Fear No Man, No Team

Defensive backs take part of their traditional pregame huddle before taking the field for warmups.
Tom Brady and the Patriots roll into town this Sunday. There was a time, not that long ago, where I would have thrown in the towel before the wheels of the Patriot team jet touched down at Sea-Tac. Brady’s hair, alone, clearly outclassed the Seahawks. Heck, his marriage to Gisele Bundchen may be a greater accomplishment than anything the Seattle football franchise has managed in 35-plus years of existence. Brady surely feels that way. He has won triple the Super Bowls Seattle has even appeared in. National media is doing nothing to challenge the expectation that New England has a nearly certain win in front of them. Twelve of fourteen ESPN “experts” pick the Patriots to win. Christian Fauria was heard on NFL Network predicting a three touchdown, or greater, win by New England. This is the number one offense in all of football, led by the ideal snarly football coach, with weapons all over the field. Worse yet, the Seahawks have the big bad 49ers a few days later, than the Lions. What is this poor little team from Seattle to do? I can tell you one thing they won’t be doing. This group will not fear what comes. They will not “hope” they can win. This Seahawks team fears no quarterback, no team, no challenge. Neither should you.

The old Seahawks would face a handful of games every year where they were simply overmatched. They could not compete. Fans remember the feeling of these games. Think of how you felt prior to the match-up with the Steelers in Week 2 last season. We all knew what was coming. The same thing happened when the Giants rolled into town in 2010 after the Seahawks had lost half their defense to injury in a road game against the Raiders. There is a sense of gritting your teeth, and just holding on until the pain subsided. Even when the team has been good, there were these games where fans had little reason to believe the Seahawks could hang.

The Ravens game last year was a good example. Baltimore was too tough for a young Seattle team. The Seahawks may try hard. It would be cute, but in the end, irrelevant. Something strange happened in that game. It was the Seahawks who were delivering the big hits. It was the Seahawks who were running the ball with purpose and determination. And, with four minutes left to go, it was the Seahawks that drove the ball down the field and ran the clock down to zero for what was an inspiring victory. The trends are starting to show that this Seahawks team can stand up to any team.

Seattle has yet to trail in any game in 2012, at the end of any quarter, by more than a touchdown. Last season, they lost three games by a touchdown or more. That number was down from nine in 2010 and 2009. I have made the point before that Pete Carroll has done an amazing job of always having his team ready to play come game time. Evidence supporting that is the team has only had one game in each of his first two seasons where they trailed by more than a touchdown after the first quarter, and have zero such games this year. Jim Mora’s team trailed by more than seven points after the first quarter a staggering five times in 2009, and Holmgren’s final Seahawks team had it happen three times in 2008.

What’s most impressive is the team has a chance to win heading into the fourth quarter of almost every game they have played in the past season. There has only been one game in the past nineteen when the Seahawks have trailed by more than a touchdown heading into the fourth quarter. They had eight such games in 2010 and 2009, and seven in 2008. This Seahawks team does not care who you are. It does not care who you are married to, how many Super Bowls you have won, or how often the NFL Network kisses your feet. When you face them, they will punch you in the mouth, and you will have to earn everything you get.

The score is the ultimate indicator, but take a look below the covers, and you will find more evidence. Twenty-six teams in the league average more than 300 yards of offense per game. It’s not a hard number to reach in today’s NFL. Seattle has faced the Packers, Cowboys and Panthers so far this season. Each team finished among the Top 11 offenses in 2011 in yards per game. Yet, no team that has faced Seattle in 2012 has reached the 300 yard mark.

There were eleven games where the defense yielded at least 300 yards the last two years, down from fourteen the previous two seasons. Said another way, the 2012 defense has already matched the total number of sub-300 yard games that both the 2011 and 2010 teams registered (5), and have blown past the 2009 and 2008 marks (2) with eleven games left to play.

It is a quarterback-driven league. Brady should cut through the little old Seahawks like a hot knife through butter, right? Think again. This team has been designed to make life miserable for quarterbacks.  Ask the five teams the Seahawks have faced so far.

No quarterback has managed a passer rating over 90.0 (min 10 attempts) or thrown two touchdowns in a game. Not Tony Romo. Not Aaron Rodgers. Not Sam Bradford. Not Cam Newton. Compare that to 2008 and 2009 when the Seahawks allowed a pitiful ten players to eclipse the 90.0 passer rating mark. This secondary is where quarterbacks and receivers come to die.

Seattle fans have become accustomed to taking on the role of of David, where every big name team that comes to face the Seahawks is Goliath. We are the bully on the block now. Tom Brady and the vaunted Patriots think they are coming to Seattle for a track meet. They think they will be able to silence the 12th man  with a fast-break offense. What they fail to realize is that this will be a steel cage match. Go ahead and try to run. Track meets don’t last very long when you keep running into a metal wall. Seahawks fans should eagerly anticipate this challenge. They have a team that fears no man, and no franchise. They are teaching the rest of the NFL what fear is.