One by one they have all fallen. Seattle cannot win on the road. They cannot stop the run. They cannot win 10AM games. They cannot rush the passer consistently. Elite quarterbacks can beat them. Tight ends can beat them. They struggle in close games. They cannot win the big game. The 49ers are too tough and talented for them. Peyton Manning is unstoppable. Aaron Rodgers is unstoppable. Tom Brady is unstoppable. Drew Brees is unstoppable. Super Bowl winners cannot win in the playoffs the next year. Free agency will gut this team. What was once accepted as fact, is now known to be myth. Pete Carroll is the Pythagoras of football. The world is not flat, even if everyone wants to believe it is. One myth, though, remains unconquered. It very well may be slayed tomorrow.
Seattle cannot win a game through the air
The debate around Russell Wilson is seemingly endless. Some insist he is a game-manager. Others see him as a player defined more by his legs than his arms. Then there is a growing group that see him as one of the best young quarterbacks in football who deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as the elites.
His receivers are roundly dismissed as under-talented and underwhelming. Doug Baldwin is a fine slot receiver, but not a game-breaker. Jermaine Kearse would be the fourth receiver on most other rosters. Never mind that Golden Tate was in the same boat last year and proved just how much the scheme defines the receiver. Ignore their dominance in the NFC Championship and Super Bowl last season. They are undrafted and disrespected.
What would Wilson look like if his defense was not lights out and his running game was slowed down? The question is often posed by pundits around the nation as more of statement than a true hypothetical. Until this team wins a game that relies on the passing game, they will always be doubted and demeaned.
People that were paying attention last weekend saw the Seahawks do exactly what they were supposedly incapable of doing. The Panthers held Seattle to around 20 yards rushing in the first half, and only 100 yards for the game. The Seahawks defense surrendered more yards than they have in two months. All Wilson and his receivers did was play a nearly perfect game.
In fact, they were perfect on third down passes, going 8-8 for almost 200 yards and three touchdowns. There were rhythm throws, beautiful touch passes, seam routes, and lasers between tight coverage. This was not the first time the passing game shined in the postseason.
Wilson threw for 385 yards in his second playoff game against the Falcons in 2012. Lost in the defensive dominance of Super Bowl XLVIII was a lethally efficient passing attack that included a 123.1 rating for Wilson, and impressive touchdowns from both Baldwin and Kearse.
This last game, though, got some people’s attention. Seattle probably does not win that game if Wilson and his receivers play an average game. It was a standout performance. The only thing that was really missing was an opposing quarterback who commanded respect. It is not enough just to play well. Dispelling this myth will require outdueling a player who already has it.
Enter Aaron Rodgers
Nobody doubts the ability of Rodgers to win a game with his arm. Nobody questions Jordy Nelson or Randall Cobb. There is a real chance that their offense returns to CenturyLink Field has has more success than they have had in their past two trips. Their talent level is high enough to score in the mid-to-upper 20s if they play to their full potential.
Many would consider that doomsday if it were to occur. Seattle cannot win a shootout with a high-octane offense run by the league MVP. But what if it can?
It is Wilson who enters the game with the highest passer rating in postseason history (min 150 attempts). It was the Seahawks passing offense that carried the team past a tough defensive team in the playoffs one year after winning the Super Bowl. Rodgers and his crew were unable to do that against the New York Giants in the 2011 season.
Baldwin is one of only six players to register over 100 yards receiving and 100 yards in kickoff returns in the same playoff game. He is surely looking for a repeat performance of last year’s NFC Championship.
No Seahawks fans wants to see Rodgers and the Packers offense to get untracked. A runaway victory would be just fine. But if they do, do not bet against the Seahawks crossing one more myth off the list and leave opponents feeling all that more hopeless.