Good teams win games like the one the Seahawks won on Monday. Regardless of the opponent, the venue, the spread, the conditions, or any other hurdle one could dream up, good teams – championship-contending teams – prove victorious in adverse contests.
It’s important to remember that fact, because over the course of three hours on Monday evening, fans of Seattle’s football team conveyed the entire gamut of negative emotions as their ballclub battled – and ultimately triumphed over – the St. Louis Rams. From tweets of “Fire Bevell!” to verbal lambasts of every player on the field – Sidney sucks, Russell sucks, Marshawn sucks, Sweezy sucks (okay, he kind of did, but still) – to declaring the season cooked, toast, stick a fork in it, done, the 12th Man went full overreaction Monday in the midst of a game that, once again, good teams win.
In the coming days, there will undoubtedly be an onslaught of analysis regarding all the things the Seahawks did wrong in their nail-biting victory. Much of that analysis will be apt, some of it will be crap, and most of it will be conjured up to get ratings, subscriptions, or page views. So rather than burden you with even more negativity than one most certainly needs in their life, I’m here to put at least a semi-positive spin on the perceived shitfest we all paid witness to in Week 8. Because looking on the bright side is the only thing that can keep you from going to the Dark Side. And what’s on the Dark Side? The evil Empire. You don’t want to be part of the evil Empire.
1. It’s not all Darrell Bevell’s fault (and this offense will get better).
Bad news, everyone. Offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell isn’t going anywhere. Unless he takes a head coaching job this offseason, he’ll be your OC from now until we really, really suck. And I don’t see us sucking anytime soon.
Fact is, Bevell’s not bad at his job. He just isn’t. How many of you remember Jeremy Bates? (On a side note, how many of you were even on the bandwagon when Jeremy Bates was the Seahawks’ offensive coordinator?) If you want the prototype for a bad coordinator, look no further than Bates, who in addition to being kind of a weirdo, was also pretty darn awful at running the offense.
Bates had a penchant for calling fade routes – not of the very en vogue “back shoulder” variety, either – constantly. On your own five-yard line? Fade route. On your opponent’s five-yard line? Fade route. Facing a fourth-and-long at midfield with the half winding down? Fade route. Fade routes, fade routes, fade routes. This guy lived and breathed by one play call that DID NOT WORK. Which is probably why he was fired after one clunker of a season, replaced by the now-embattled Bevell.
Bevell isn’t without his faults. For one thing, he could probably stand to give Marshawn Lynch the ball a bit more in the red zone, and when Russell Wilson finds himself under intense pressure, calling more screens or swing passes might be in order. But beyond that, he’s done a decent job with this offense. Decent is good. Decent is not bad. Decent is what single women with tick-tick-ticking biological clocks look for in a man, the kind of decent that gets an average-looking guy a knockout of a lady friend. We’ll take decent.
But trust me, I get it. I get what people see – or at least think they see – when watching Bevell’s offense executed between the lines. It looks very conservative. Runs for short gains, passes for minimal yardage, more three-and-outs than desired. Mostly, though, these are products of a less-than-stable offensive line, a line burdened by inconsistency and wracked by injuries so far this season. On Monday, for example, Wilson was faced with very little time to allow plays to develop, constantly under siege from a talented defensive front that did not let up on their pressure of the quarterback. When he did have time, though, Wilson was able to connect with Golden Tate on an 80-yard touchdown pass, the longest scoring toss of his brief career thus far, and the play was absolutely marvelous.
The good news? When linemen come back healthy as the season wears on, this offense will click just as it did in the latter half of 2012. Adding Percy Harvin into the mix will only help, as well. The offense will get better. And when it does, we won’t be saying anything about Darrell Bevell’s job security.
2. This defense is as good as it gets.
You know about the Legion of Boom and you’ve witnessed just how good the front four and linebacking corps can be. But in the microcosm of the team’s Week 8 victory, the numbers only add to the growing legend of this team’s near-mythical defense.
The Seahawks ran just 40 offensive plays and possessed the ball for only 21:51 on Monday. That left the Rams with a 38:09 time of possession and gifted them the opportunity to run 71 plays of their own, nearly doubling up on Seattle in both categories, en route to a…loss. A loss.
Most teams that run nearly twice as many offensive plays as their opponents and maintain the ball for almost twice as long end up winning. Asking a defense to spend almost 40 minutes on the field and hold their opponent to under 10 points is just about blasphemous. And yet the Seahawks defense did it. Amazingly, improbably, they did it.
Sure, you can point to a backup quarterback and some less than stellar skill-position players as catalysts if you want to. But come on. No matter how you paint it, what the defense did on Monday is not easy and only further magnifies just how stout this unit has become.
Do not take these guys for granted. Under pressure, highlighted by a goal-line stand to end the game, the Seahawks’ D came through big time.
3. It’s better to be lucky than good.
Rams kicker Greg Zuerlein entered Monday night’s tilt a perfect 11-for-11 on field goal attempts in 2013. The sure-legged Missouri Western State product, who kicked a Rams franchise-long 60-yard field goal against the Seahawks a year ago, converted his first three tries in the inaugural 2013 matchup between the divisional foes, sending a 33-yarder, a 28-yarder, and a 27-yarder through the uprights.
With just under nine minutes left to play in the contest, Zuerlein ran onto the field to attempt a 50-yard try that would have cut the Seahawks lead to a mere two points. The ball was snapped from the 32-yard-line, corralled and placed by punter-cum-holder Johnny Hekker, and promptly booted wide right by the Rams kicker. It was Zuerlein’s first miss of the year. It would prove to be the most untimely miss he may incur all season.
Had Zuerlein continued his streak of perfection, Seattle would have led by a slim 14-12 margin. Assuming the Seahawks offense punted just three minutes later, as they in fact did, St. Louis would regain possession needing only to convert a fifth Zuerlein field goal in order to claim victory.
Instead, because the second-year kicker misfired, the Rams got the ball back down five, in need of a touchdown rather than a field goal to win. And as they marched the ball downfield all the way to the Seahawks 1-yard line – the 1-freakin’-yard line!!! – it surely dawned on Zuerlein, his teammates, his coaches, and maybe even a fan or two that that one miss, the only miss, could not have proved more unfortunate.
It’s better to be lucky than good, friends. The Seahawks are pretty damn good. On Monday night, they were also very, very lucky. That is a championship formula to the utmost degree.