A Reaction to Yesterday’s Punch to the Gut

Written by HawkBlogger.com contributor Matthew Heuett

Losses hurt.  The bigger the game, the bigger the sting, and there’s no game bigger than the Super Bowl.  Losses are supposed to hurt, though, because that’s what makes winning feel so damned good.  That’s how binary relationships work – they have no definition without their opposite; hot can’t exist without cold, ecstasy without despair, juicy backyard barbecue burgers without wheatgrass smoothies.  And until you’ve experienced the one in its totality, you can’t fully appreciate the other.

But while all of that might make sense to us a few weeks from now, right now the pain is too close for intellectual balms to be of any use – emotion has an annoying way of trumping reason.  The final play by Seattle’s offense is a prime example of that.  As Carroll explained in his postgame press conference, New England had its goal line defense in the game, and Seattle had 11 personnel, i.e. one running back, one tight end, and three wide receivers.  From a pure strategy standpoint that’s a mismatch that favors a pass, and nine times out of ten a Russell Wilson throw on the one yard line against a bunch of big, slow defensive linemen either results in a touchdown or sets up Lynch on the one inch line with two downs to go.  If only Wilson had thrown a hair more to the right, if only Lockette had been a half-step faster, if, if, if.  Not that any of that changes or invalidates our gut reactions to the play (i.e. WHY THE HELL DIDN’T THEY HAND IT TO BEAST MODE, IF YOU’RE GOING TO THROW IT WHY THE HELL WOULD YOU NOT HAVE BALDWIN OR MATTHEWS RUNNING THAT ROUTE INSTEAD,  OR HEY HOW ABOUT THROWING IT TO LYNCH IN THE FLAT TO GIVE HIM THE BALL IN SPACE YOU SONS OF BITCHES THAT PLAY HAS WORKED ALL YEAR LONG, etc. –  I have a lot more where those came from.).

Credit where it’s due, Malcolm Butler made a hell of a play on the ball in a clutch situation, one on par with Jermaine Kearse’s improbable catch a few plays before, and we shouldn’t belittle his accomplishment just because our team lost.  A few days after Seattle’s last second win on a hail mary versus Green Bay in 2012, I was asked to talk about that play on a New Jersey sports radio show.  Afterwards, I saw on their schedule that a Packers blogger had appeared just before me, and out of curiosity I decided to check out his blog.  I immediately wished I hadn’t.  The front page screamed the words “THE SEATTLE SCREW JOB” in ridiculously big, bold letters, and underneath that were about half a dozen articles on the subject that were just as strident.  Ever since, that headline has been my gold standard for impotent, immature, unthinking rage, and every time I start to feel like lashing out at something those words flash in my head.  Losing a Super Bowl sucks so goddamn hard, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to use it as an excuse to throw a screaming hissy fit for all the internet to see.  I’m better than that.  We’re twelves, god damn it, not jackass battery-chucking Philly fans – we’re all better than that.

New England played a hell of a game, but so did Seattle.  The 2014 Seahawks are not the 1940 Redskins, the 1985 Patriots, or the 2013 Broncos; this was no crushing blowout defeat, and they can take pride in leaving everything they had out on that field in Arizona.  The Hawks fought a heavyweight bout against a great team spearheaded by one of the preeminent coach-quarterback duos in the history of the league, and they came within millimeters of taking home their second Lombardi trophy in two years.

But while both teams were evenly matched in this game, the futures in store for both are vastly different.  Brady turns 38 in August, and the Patriots have no Aaron Rodgers waiting in the wings to take over the reins when he’s done.  Their win yesterday has the feel of a final victory lap squeezed in through a swiftly closing championship window.  Wilson, on the other hand, is just 26, and the young core of the best defense in the NFL is locked up for the long term.  This is a squad with many more Super Bowl runs in them, perhaps even enough to one day grind Brady’s newly set postseason records to dust.

I wish like hell that we could look forward to watching the Seahawks try for the NFL’s first ever back-to-back-to-back Super Bowl win.  Instead, they get to try their level best to become just the third team in NFL history to win a Super Bowl the year after losing it.  The first to do it was the Cowboys in 1971 after losing to the Colts in Super Bowl V, and the second was the team they beat, the Dolphins.  I hear tell that Miami had a pretty great run in 1972, one they celebrated by winning the Super Bowl again in ‘73.  Here’s to the Seahawks meeting and exceeding their mark.

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Matthew Heuett