Seahawks 34- Raiders 40, in overtime.
Throughout the years of being a Seahawks fan, I’ve experienced a gamut of emotions: excitement, disappointment, anxiety, joy and despair to name a few. The one thing I’ve never felt deeply is anger or, more specifically, anger at the team. But last night, as I watched Josh Jacobs blast down the field on an 86-yard touchdown run to win the game in overtime, anger is what bubbled up inside.
While there is plenty to be upset about in this game, the performance of the defense–especially the inability to stop the run– was the most egregious. I’d truly believed that the regression we saw against the Buccaneers in Week Ten was a mere anomaly and chalked it up to international travel, disrupted routines and the pressure of the situation. But when the problem continued back home in the comfort of Lumen Field and the 12’s, I was aghast. For the masochists, here’s a refresher: The Raiders racked up 576 total yards, 293 were receiving and 283 were rushing. Of that 283, Josh Jacobs rushed for 229. And oh yeah, Jacobs also had 74 of the receiving yards.
In post-game remarks, Pete Carroll said that leading up to the game, they’d been focused on dealing with Davante Adams. A reporter asked if this was at the expense of defending the run, and Pete said, “That’s what I’m saying, yeah.” My brain is twisting around in loops and tangles trying to understand that. It’s like a cook at a restaurant saying he burned your burger because he was trying to get the salad right. Isn’t it the job of the coaching staff to look at the entire picture and to prepare the team for all possible scenarios, thus giving them the best possible chance for success? I’m beginning to think all that intense gum chawing is starting to rattle Pete’s brain a bit. Do coaches ever go into concussion protocol?
The inconsistency of this team is also maddening. These are men who are getting paid millions of dollars to do their jobs. I keep thinking of those of us who make much less money and wondering if there is any scenario where we could get away with such on-the-job inconsistency. Picture a dentist, for example. On Tuesday, he fills cavities with ease and perfection. But on Thursday, he slips up with the drill and clumsily perforates his patient’s gums, creating a gush of blood and misery. How long would be keep his job?
Ultimately, I don’t know if I’m angry at the team or angry at myself. Like everyone else, my expectations were low at the outset. I was settling in for a mediocre season and preparing for more losses than wins. Season opener aside, the team met these low expectations for the first five weeks. While Geno continued to play better than expected, the defense was a liability that impacted both sides of the ball. But then, the magic pivot happened. Seemingly out of nowhere came a roaring defense that was equal parts skill and nastiness. They were not only serviceable but formidable. With the presence of the new and greatly improved defense, the offense was able to blow wide open as well. Kenneth Walker III unleashed, and King Geno began his astonishing ascent. Suddenly, we found ourselves in the middle of a different trip. And I wholeheartedly bought my ticket, jumped on board and took a window seat for the ride. The Hawks gave us an invitation to believe, and I readily accepted. Hope replaced trepidation. Possibility loomed larger than resignation. I started to make an emotional investment in this team. I started to care. And now, like so many others, I’m crashing back to earth again. Was that glorious four-week run merely a mirage? Was I delusional or perhaps greedy for more than was realistic? I would have supported this team either way. But I feel like I fell for something that really wasn’t there. And that’s on me.
I’m not a football analyst. I’m just a humble Seahawks fan and a student of football. For the past several years, I’ve been on a mission to elevate my understanding of the game and all its complexities. I’m grateful for the many teachers out there- be they sports writers, podcasters, former players or fellow fans with wisdom to share. Some of these people also started to believe in something bigger for the team this year. And as we pivot back to reality, their perspectives are both comforting and enlightening. In response to yesterday’s loss, Jacson Bevens (Field Gulls) said, “Most NFL seasons contain a series of mini-seasons within it, layers of trends masquerading as identities.” Layers of trends masquerading as identities. Perspective.
Although I could spend hours bemoaning all the negatives of this game, it would be remiss of me to bypass the positives:
- Geno made some questionable decisions, such as throwing into coverage a few times, but played a good game overall. He completed 73% of his passes and threw for two touchdowns. Passer rating 106.5.
- Quandre Diggs got two interceptions, one of which resulted in a touchdown two plays later.
- Kenneth Walker III moved the pile for six crazy yards for this second touchdown of the day. While his teammates certainly aided the effort, the power of his legs in that moment was freakish. I’m sure he leg presses close to 1K.
- Travis Homer had a great game. He scored a touchdown, breaking multiple tackles to do so. He also scrambled for 27 yards on a 2nd and 23 to get a critical first down.
- It is highly probable that the drunken Raiders fan, who yelled incoherently and taunted us in the women’s room after the game, threw up in the Lyft on the ride back to her hotel and woke up with a massive hangover this morning.
So here we are. It would have been easier to have kept on with a mundane and predictable season, as opposed to taking that momentary high just to tumble back to earth again. What seemed so certain a few weeks ago–legitimacy and a real shot at the playoffs–now feels questionable. The joy has drained out of me just a bit. My optimism has dulled. I don’t know what will happen with this team. But I do know myself. I’ll keep watching. I’ll keep going to games. I’ll continue to lean in. I’ll keep doing this thing.
And I won’t stay angry.