It is a frigid winter morning. There is not a cloud to be seen as the rising sun slowly paints the sky shades of orange and red. You can see the Puget Sound glistening. The marine air fills your lungs before a slow exhale creates a trail of steam that rises and disappears. You look down and see cars and people scurrying around the Seattle Center. It messes with your equilibrium a bit, so you take a step back from the edge. The rhythmic flapping of the 12 flag behind you is soothing. One more breath. One more look around your surroundings, and then two steps forward and a jump.
The world is a blur. You are falling fast. The ground is getting closer. Your life could come to an end in an instant. Instead, your arms extend and the wind catches the wings attached to your suit, causing a sharp turn skyward. The horizon glows brighter as the sun continues its march toward ascension. You feel everything in that moment. Your heart pounding in your chest, the air flowing across your face, the adrenaline pulsing through your veins, helps etch an indelible memory in your brain.
We stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the Seahawks on Saturday on the edge. There are others with us who are peering over the same edge. They fear the next step. They see the risk and the potential for peril and pain. Not you. Not the Seahawks. Every risk some see looks like a thrill to you. Where they imagine failure, you imagine success.
Those people are going to tell you about the Falcons and their historically great offense. They will focus on the absence of Earl Thomas. Seattle’s recent history of slow starts in road playoff games will dominate the conversation. Each item they list is an attempt to lower your expectations (and theirs) and shield themselves from potential pain. They do not see what you see. The greater the challenge, the sweeter the reward.
Instead of fretting about what Matt Ryan and Julio Jones might do to a Thomas-less secondary, you imagine what it would mean if the Seahawks are able to slow them. Where others cast doubt about the chances for the Seahawks offense to outscore the Falcons, you imagine the signal it would send should they sustain the momentum they captured last week.
Championships are not won in the Super Bowl. They are won by walking a path filled with opponents whose varying strengths test your worth. This team is Daniel-san facing down Cobra Kai in the tournament. People think it was the crane kick that won the trophy, but it was the hundreds of hours of training coupled with the confidence gained from moving past previous foes that made that moment possible. The Seahawks crave tests like the one in front of them this weekend. This is an opportunity to beat a dynamic, healthy, favored opponent on their turf.
We stand with them on the precipice of something special. A win would infect the Northwest with football fever and send shockwaves reverberating through the NFL. Everyone knows that a Seahawks team playing well enough to beat these Falcons in Atlanta is a team that can beat anyone, anywhere. The path does not get harder from here for Seattle. It gets harder for those who must face them.
Look forward to this game. Look forward to a healthier Russell Wilson finding the mark with his passes and terrorizing the Falcons with his strengthening legs. Look forward to Jimmy Graham going over, around, and through the Falcons defense as he did in the first game. Look forward to Thomas Rawls introducing himself to their sternums. Look forward to Doug Baldwin exasperating the city of Atlanta by catching the ball with every part of his body at the most crucial junctures. Look forward to Cliff Avril, Michael Bennett, Frank Clark, and Bobby Wagner taking turns slamming Ryan into the turf. Look forward to Richard Sherman making Ryan pay for trying him one too many times. Look forward.