Monday, December 5, 2005
Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Not for real.
Beating up on inferior teams and the beneficiary of a cheap schedule.
Saaaaaame old Seahawks.
Seattle had heard these bons mots all season, despite their 9-2 start, #1 position in the NFC and division title by default. As much as the players say it doesn’t matter, respect IS important. Especially when you have exorcised all the demons holding you back in previous years, one by one. Some manner of recognition for this study in the importance of winning by character and determination was earned, but was not forthcoming.
There are those who will minimize Seattle’s 42-0 victory over the Eagles on Monday Night, in front of the whole nation. No T.O., no McNabb, no Lito Sheppard, no Tra Thomas – this decimated Eagles team came into this game a wounded animal. The Seahawks showed no mercy, knowing full well that wounded animals are often the most dangerous kind.
John Madden spoke for every peeved pundit when he said, “I don’t know if I’m seeing a great Seattle team, or a really bad Philadelphia team.” A bit of both, truth be told.
There are those who will find 10-2 lacking when looking for evidence of Seattle’s rightful place among the NFL’s elite. They will look at the statistics and dismiss this victory, commanding as it was, as the further function of a bully pecking away at weak opponents.
Don’t you believe it. Let the fools wail away, cavalierly dismissing the second-best record in the NFL. Know that these are the misguided rants of the uninformed.
Enjoy this moment, this eight-game winning streak, this magic season.
For as every Seahawks fan knows, magic seasons don’t come around often enough.
Play Of The Day: With 3:38 remaining in the first quarter, Philly quarterback Mike McMahon threw a little curl route to Greg Lewis from the Seattle 38. Andre Dyson jumped the route, picked off the pass, and was off to the races with a 72-yard interception return for a touchdown. The pick put the Seahawks up, 14-0. Things were about to get a LOT worse for the defending NFC Champs.
Handouts To The Standouts: Let’s put the cards on the table right now – if Lofa Tatupu doesn’t win the 2005 Defensive Rookie of the Year Award, the selection process should be investigated. I know that Odell Thurman is making noise in Cincy, Shawne Merriman is tearing it up in San Diego, and DeMarcus Ware is looking good in Big D. But you can’t tell me that any rookie is making a greater defensive impact on his team than the Seahawks’ middle linebacker. In this game alone, he returned an interception 38 yards for a touchdown, batted away the pass which caused Boulware’s pick (another near-TD), and led all defensive players on both teams with eight tackles and one assist. He leads his team in tackles for the season (90 through twelve games), plays the pass well, is a shutdown tackler from sideline to sideline, saves many of his best stops for third down, and reads quarterbacks like a veteran.
Yep…he was a reach in the second round, wasn’t he?
Andre Dyson, for his two picks and two TDs (the first on a 72-yard INT in the first quarter and the second on a 25-yard fumble recovery in the third quarter)…Shaun Alexander, for persisting through a Philadelphia defense primed to stop him and scoring two more TDs…Matt Hasselbeck, for leading a great, defining drive to start the game…Michael Boulware and Marquand Manuel, for adding to the defensive pressure with timely plays…D.J. Hackett, for providing that essential deep threat in Darrell Jackson’s absence…and the Seahawks as a team, for heading east and proving beyond any remaining doubt that this team can win anywhere, anytime.
Things That Made Me Go, “Blech!”: Erm…no complaints here. I’ll let the national media take care of the snarky stuff.
Offense: Seattle’s offense came out hot, with the type of clock-killing opening drive seen by Bill Parcells in his dreams – 16 plays for 65 yards, and 8:10 taken off the clock. Philadelphia was obviously keying on Shaun Alexander (again, duh…), and the NFL’s leading rusher gained 12 yards on 8 carries on this drive – 49 yards on 19 total carries, but two more TDs. Matt Hasselbeck was coldly efficient here, going 6 of 7 for 46 yards and the 11-yard TD to Bobby Engram in the middle of the end zone.
The Seahawks’ top-ranked offense took a back seat tonight – with the defense scoring at a record rate and the outcome decided by the end of the first half, the final thirty minutes were for marking time and insuring that nobody got hurt. Eventually, Seneca Wallace took over behind center (Chris Spencer in for Robbie Tobeck down the stretch), Mo Morris and Leonard Weaver made up the backfield and Sean Locklear saw time at left tackle. With only 194 total yards (they’d been averaging 386 total yards per game), the rankings might just take a hit.
As if the Seahawks care.
Defense: After the game, Shaun Alexander remarked that the aforementioned lack of respect had “teed off” Seattle’s defense, and they wanted to prove their worth.
Uhhh…point taken, guys.
The Seahawks’ D clamped down on the Eagles from the start, and never really let up. Again, one can lament the loss of McNabb and T.O., but an equally strong case could be made that a full Philly unit would not have beaten this defense. Tatupu and Leroy Hill are defining their positions in the linebacking corps, Dyson was jumping routes with a catburglar’s cunning until his ankle injury on the fumble recovery TD in the third quarter, Marquand Manuel impressed again with big hits and outstanding safety blitzes…this was team defense at its finest. 28 points from six total turnovers told the tale of a young, opportunistic defense getting stronger every day.
Summary: Trust me, Seattle…you WILL still hear those rumblings. You WILL still be told that your team is not among the chosen. You WILL be told that the Bears, Panthers, Bucs and Giants are the real conference contenders.
Pay them no mind.
You just saw an Eagles team allow two interception returns for touchdowns for the first time in 30 years. You just saw the largest margin of victory in a shutout in the history of Monday Night Football. You saw the worst home loss suffered by an Eagles team since 1962. You saw the Seahawks put their collective foot on the throat of an opponent…and unlike past seasons, the pressure never stopped.
Don’t believe what you hear. Don’t give the naysayers a second thought. When your eyes scan the Seattle skyline from a perfect Qwest Field seat in January, such things won’t matter. All that will matter is the cool, clear breath of near-perfection – and the 67,000 souls who live by that breath with you.
Doug Farrar is the Editor-in-Chief of Seahawks.NET. Feel free to e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.