The Morning After: Paul Allen’s Angel Eclipses a City Full of Them, Hawks Move to 4-1

I woke up on a Friday morning and grabbed the newspaper first thing, as I always did. Another disastrous Seahawks season was over, and I was surprised to see them show up in the sport section of The Washington Post. There were pictures of what appeared to be moving vans. My heart sunk as I read the story detailing Ken Behring’s plan to move my favorite team to Los Angeles. That was February 2, 1996. The NFL blocked his move and two months later a young billionaire purchased a 14-month option to buy the Seahawks that was ultimately contingent upon the state voting to fund a new stadium. Paul Allen poured his money, his heart, and his wisdom into getting that referendum passed despite basketball being his true sports love. He did it because he cared deeply about the region where he grew up. The bill passed by a mere 36,000 votes. That is how close we came to never having a Super Bowl, never having Beast Quake, never knowing Russell Wilson. It was fitting on a night when Allen was inducted into the Seahawks Ring of Honor, in the stadium he enabled, against a team from Los Angeles, that his team won by the slimmest of margins. This is our team. I will never forget why.

Few Seahawks fans will forget this game. It had one of the greatest catches in franchise history by Tyler Lockett. It had one of the greatest interceptions you will ever see by Tedric Thompson. It had a virtuoso performance by Russell Wilson. The Seahawks were in control and on the ropes time and again. You cannot have exhilaration without the specter of devastation. Everyone was braced for the most crushing of outcomes, and jointly shared in the ecstasy only the Seahawks can bring.

Strangers hugged and high-fived. Noises emanated from people they did not know they were capable of making. Stadium attendants jumped up and down. A young man working in the souvenir shop within the stadium could not contain himself to the counter and burst out the door to run with fans through the concourse like it was Pamplona.

This was not the whooping of the hated 49ers late in 2012 that announced the new kings of the division. It was a resurrection of relevance against one of the league’s best teams playing some of their best football. That Rams team was not the same one that got whooped by the Bucs a few days earlier.

They played wonderfully on offense and made incredible plays that will be tough to replicate. Their largely atrocious offensive line did not yield a sack. Their diminished running back scored two touchdowns. They recovered from a late interception and poor field position to drive down for what should have been a winning field goal. They did all those things, and they lost.

A Seahawks team that had shot themselves in the foot so often in the first three weeks of the season, limited head-slapping errors for the second straight game. Seattle began the game with an early turnover and appeared completely incapable of blocking the Rams defensive line. It was the defense who kept the Seahawks in the game by holding Los Angeles to two field goals.

Down 6-0, the Seahawks offense found it’s stride and went 75 yards for a touchdown, capped by the fantastic throw of Wilson and even more amazing catch of Lockett along the edge of the endzone. It was an impossible play. To be more specific, it was the least probable touchdown catch (6.3%) in the last three seasons, according to the NFL.

After the defense held for another two series, the offense scored another touchdown on a terrific play modification by Brian Schottenheimer that led to a wide open D.K. Metcalf, and then Jadeveon Clowney forced a fumble, it appeared as if the Seahawks were on the verge of making this a comfortable victory.

The offense drove to the Rams 30-yard line and faced a 4th and 1. Pete Carroll chose to go for the field goal, which infuriated fans far and wide. Going for it was probably the right call, but there were no guarantees they would make it, and even fewer guarantees they would have scored a touchdown. A 17-6 lead would have been a strong position with a kickoff likely leaving the Rams with 75 yards of field to cover and just 90 seconds to get there. Jason Myers missed the kick.

That gave the Rams good field position and they finally found a way to move the ball on offense. It still appeared the defense would get off the field with minimal damage when Jared Goff’s pass fell incomplete on 3rd and 10, but the referees called roughing the passer on Ziggy Ansah. That was enough to get the Rams into the end zone.

That whole series set the stage for a total flip of the script the rest of the way. Los Angeles would score on three of their next four possessions, including the first drive of the second half. They were the punchers. The Seahawks offense was now in counter-punch position.

A fabulous kick by Michael Dickson pinned the Rams at their 1-yard line. The defense held, and the Seahawks scored a touchdown. Had that sequence of events not happened, we are not reveling in victory this morning.

The finish, though, was unforgettable. Down 29-24, Seattle drove 70 yards to the Rams 5-yard line facing another fourth down decision with two-and-a-half minutes remaining in the game. Carroll went for it. Wilson initially looked like he was going to run it in for a score, only to see Chris Carson’s defender close ground and create space for what should have been an easy touchdown catch. Carson bobbled, and then caught the pass to give Seattle a single point lead.

The Rams had more than enough time to get the lead back. The defense forced Los Angeles into a 3rd and 10 when a tipped pass hung in the air just long enough for Thompson to dive and get his hands under the ball for what was the most amazing interception I have ever witnessed. The Tip was the most important, but this one was a feat of unparalleled coordination.

As someone who has been incredibly hard on Thompson, it was wonderful to see him make a play of such significance. The whole defense erupted in celebration rooted not just in what the play meant to the game, but what they all knew it meant to this young man.

They ran the full length of the field and were high-fiving fans in both endzones while everyone waited for the replay officials to confirm what we already knew. The celebrations were premature, but they were based in unbounded joy that is difficult to criticize.

The offense was unable to end the game, and the Rams had no trouble moving into what should have been a sure thing game-winning field goal. A delay of game penalty cost the Rams five yards that very well might have been the difference. Even so, Greg Zuerlein does not miss very often.

In fact, he had attempted six field goals between 40 and 50 yards over his career against the Seahawks. He had made all of them. Not this one. Not this night.

There is so much to reflect on in this game. It may take another full article to seep in the splendor of it all. One thing that stands out to me is the contrast between the persona of this team and the LOB era crew.

That group was defined by the ferocious underdog mentality of low round draft picks and the physical dominance of their defense and running back. They were brash, intimidating, alpha males.

This team far more reflects the persona of their MVP-level quarterback. They are not the biggest. They are unassuming, but willful. There is an innocence and authentic happiness that lights their path instead of dark and deep-rooted desire to prove the world wrong.

It is far too early to say how good this team is. Most of their victories have been incredibly close and against poor competition. Yet, they are 4-1, matching the best start in franchise history.

No team seems completely out of their class. No opponent seems like an easy win. This very well be a year defined by razor thin margins. It may age all of us at hyper speed, but there is not a player better suited to lead through a season like that than Wilson. Nobody is more certain of outcome or more calm in crisis.

While fans bicker about whether he should be used more or used differently, he is just going out there and playing the best football of his career and stacking up victories.

This team has the potential to improve. Jarran Reed returns after the next game. Clowney and Ansah should continue to find their way in this scheme. Jamarco Jones might be an upgrade on the line, as might Phil Haynes coming off PUP following the Browns game. Carroll will continue to tinker with his defense to optimize the talent he has.

They are not yet legitimate contenders for the Super Bowl. There are too many inconsistencies and weak spots that must be sorted out. They are now in full contention for the division title and at least one home playoff game. This was a titanic victory that puts the Rams in a difficult position. They are not going away and the 49ers likely will be there throughout.

Their championship roads lead through Seattle, though, and the Rams were just reminded how formidable this team and this stadium can be. Allen gifted this region a franchise to be proud of. This was a game he would have loved. Something tells me Carroll and Wilson have more thrills in store for us the rest of the way.

Founder, Editor & Lead Writer
  1. This is some of your finest work, Brian. Thank you for this moving reflection.
    I agree that the character of this team has shifted a bit. Interviews from most players are fairly dull, straightforward, to the point–a little like Russell’s, actually. It feels like a hockey team, incidentally, where interviews are so team-centered that almost all stars’ voices feel interchangeable. Different, but still good. And the joy that this team displays with the big plays is still a sight to behold.

    1. It sounds like the Patriots’ “way”. The QB is very similar. Not quite sure about the coach. Great win.

  2. Better to be a good team with luck, then a great team without luck.

    Before the 2 minute warnings, Pete Carroll has few, if any equals as a coach. After the 2 minute warning, not so much.

    Give me a headset, Pete. Stick me at the top of the Clink in some anonymous booth. Put me in your ear before it’s time to run back to the dressing room. I’ll work for a mere $100,000 a game.

    Go Hawks. Beat da browns black and blue.

  3. Great game, maybe best Thursday night game EVER, two really good teams trading haymakers until the VERY last play. Especially for an early October matchup.

    I am not a fan of RW’s off-schudule antics, but he has much better pocket presence now and is keeping his eyes down field on plays. That run left-throw off the wrong foot-back to his right into the corner TD should be the intro for all Thursday night games going forward. He looked fit and agile, seeing the game fast again, like maybe his fitness was in question or he has been carrying an injury for a long time.

    I just hope they don’t wear out Carson because he is playing really violent football right now, and that might not be sustainable over 17 weeks and the playoffs.

    Our defense seemed to round into better form, bending but not breaking, and making big plays to force TOs. Dickson’s punts are encouraging as was the special teams coverage, which has looked like a HS unit at times.

    Cleveland at their place is going to be a real test. Super athletic on both sides of the ball and Chubb might be really good.

    1. “Antics”, you’re are out of your mind. Those “antics” got Seattle all the wins and the championship. Some folks just don’t get it. That is his style. Btw, those “antics” are being copied all over football by younger players. He is re-defining football by giving small QBs an opportunity to compete and play at the highest level. “Our defense seemed to round into better form”, what games are you watching? If the best kicker didn’t miss the field goal, you probably will be here b******** about the porous defense.

    2. Good points, though Carson showed good durability last year so if they work within that framework he should be okay. The Rams on the other hand might be in deep doo doo. They clearly have been trying to “manage” Gurly’s usage likely for the arthritic knee. The importance of a divisional game caused them to expand his usage last night. Now that they’re in a deeper hole they may push him even harder in the Niners game. If his arthritis is anything like what I’ve experienced they may end up using up his health before the last quarter of the season when it counts the most.

    3. Good comment about Carson Kurt Z. I agree. I was thinking today that in general, running backs are underpaid in comparison to quarterbacks. Yes, quarterbacks have a strategic importance that running backs don’t, and they touch the ball every offensive play. However, running backs deserve more hazard pay, especially in light of all the rules protecting quarterbacks these days. Why is it that a Brady and a Brees and other old quarterbacks exist, guys who are pushing or exceeding 40 and still playing? Why do we not see running backs last nearly that long?
      Carson displays such determination and passion, and you can tell he must spend hours in the weight room. I too worry about the wear and tear not only of having to plow through 3 and 4 tacklers on every carry, but also having people ripping and tearing away at the ball to jar it loose. You can tell too that he is out to try to “make up” for some of his fumbles. He wants to prove to his teammates and the fans that they can depend upon him. I just hope he doesn’t tear himself apart in the process.

  4. On paper the Rams have better talent, at least by the usual measures. The Seahawks have a couple guys highly rated by the outside world and then a bunch of “pedestrians” comparatively. The Rams have a “Genius” hc who’s an offensive scheming master, supported by one of the acknowledged best dc’s in the league. Their st coach is ranked in the top 3 league wide. And they excel by having game scheming that enables the players they have. The Seahawks have an OLD (5 years younger than me, so not my characterization) master hc, with coordinators and assistants not overly respected at home or around the league (though I think Schotty might be maturing before our eyes). To beat the Rams you either have to scheme to blow up their formulaic structures (ie last super bowl), or do what the Seahawks did last night. Play with heart and over achieve. I went into more detail on Staton’s blog but just to summarize players who are too small, too slow, too young, too limited in ability (each of those characterizations imposed from without) step up and make things happen when least expected. The schemes, for the most part, don’t give them advantage, it’s their will to win. This is a young squad overall, and as such, are impressionable. A game like last night might yield remarkable results going forward if they can maintain the optimism and extra effort. They’ve got a tough schedule of opponents ahead………………………we’ll see if this game remains memorable for being a turning point to success.

    1. The better team didn’t win last night, but who cares. A win is a win and that is all it matters. It is the NFL, anything can happen due to its short season. It is not like other sports when talent will, more than likely, will win out at the end. It could be one of those magical seasons. Just sit back, enjoy, and see how far they can go. Finally, people are paying attention to RW.

  5. Very well stated about this team’s persona, it’s quiet but resilient. Last night’s win changes the narrative from a 9 or 10 win team to a 10 to 11 win team.

    It was also one of the better called games by Schotty and Norton. Keeping the Rams out of the endzone in the 1Q was a huge win and attacking the Rams secondary proved fruitful.

    Amazing how a backup like Simmons last year and Jones last night can enter a game and solidify the O Line.

    I think the return of Reed and a further healthy Poona will enable more 1 on 1 for Clowney and Ansah, resulting in better pressure. And the depth of Green, Woods, Jefferson, and Jackson will keep the D line solid.

    The pieces are coming together and this team has a QB they believe in. I like it.

  6. Brian, you write this: “there is not a player better suited to lead through a season like that than Wilson. Nobody is more certain of outcome or more calm in crisis.”
    I fully agree. I remember watching this guy in college at Wisconsin. I was immediately struck by his maturity and calmness in crisis. He simply seemed more emotionally stable than all his college classmates. He has an incredible belief in himself which is not arrogance. He just is a positive guy and when the chips are down, and the time is running short, he seems to display to those around him, “This is awesome! We’re just getting started. Watch, it will turn out ok.”

  7. One more thing about the Rams. They indeed are an excellent football club. They are the reigning NFC champs. Goff, Gurley and Cupp are a well-oiled offensive machine. They seemed to be able to just march down the field at will in the second half. However, the Rams defense? They have given up a total of 85 points in the last two games. Does anybody know how many total yards they have given up in those two games? Fox TV can show shots of Aaron Donald all they want, but I am not sure anybody should be impressed with this defense over all. Giving up a touchdown when the other team has to go for it on 4th and goal at the 5? Look at how open Carson was. And another Seahawk was standing right next to him, wide open too. Where was the Rams’ defense?

  8. The spirit of Paul Allen leaned down as the ball headed towards the goal posts and gently blew it off course.

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