Hustlin’ Russell lifts Seahawks to Metlife

Posted by Jack Tumen

NFC Championship - San Francisco 49ers v Seattle Seahawks

Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

Last Sunday’s NFC Championship Game was epic. I really wasn’t able to grasp just how awesome it was until it was over and done with, but we were all truly blessed as football fans to be able to witness that game. It ended up being the smash-mouth, neck and neck contest that we all expected it to be. I had picked the 49ers to win by 8, and honestly I’m happy that Seattle proved me wrong.

Statistically, these teams were dead even. Go check the box score, it’s pretty spectacular: offensive yards, penalty yards, time of possession, 3rd down efficiency, completion percentage, you name it – these teams ran with one another stride for stride.

I was close on my Kaepernick prediction; I said he would rush for 100 yards and pass for 200. He ended up rushing for 130, but passed for only 153 against the Legion of Boom. Not bad…

We also had a “Kevin Ware” moment when NaVorro Bowman’s knee bent into a 90 degree angle. You hate to see that happen to the one of the league’s best ‘backers.

I don’t think anyone expected Russell Wilson to have the “oh shit” moment that he had on the first play of the game. You really can’t start any worse than that. If I were a Seahawks fan, I probably would’ve reacted like this:

But credit to the league’s best D for translating Wilson’s mistake into only 3 points and simultaneously bailing out their quarterback. It was apparent, however, that that play made Russell a bit hesitant for the remainder of the evening. It showed the most when he was forced to scramble; he looked like a whirligig spinning in backwards half-circles down the field to try and keep a play alive instead of throwing it away or taking off upfield. Although his escapes are a magnificent display of athleticism, Wilson needs to have an alarm in his head that says “throw it away. NOW!” Sometimes it’s just better to toss it out of bounds and try again on the next down.

The Seattle o-line was still having issues with pass protection in this one. Russell Wilson was sacked 4 times in what has been a reoccurring theme for this offense throughout the season; Wilson’s taken 51 sacks total, including the playoffs. However, this unit continued to pave the way for the league’s toughest runner, Marshawn Lynch, as he smashed his way to the tune of 109 yards on 22 carries, including a signature “Beast Mode” 40 yard touchdown run that ended in a Skittles shower.

If the Seahawks have proved anything over the last two seasons, it’s that size doesn’t matter. Hence, the Seattle receiving corps. They were the toughest unit on the field last Sunday, playing like they were 6’5″, 220 instead of 5’10”, 190. Doug Baldwin, Golden Tate and Jermaine Kearse have all been spectacular in the absence of Sidney Rice and Percy Harvin. Baldwin had 6 catches and topped 100 yards, in part to that ridiculous 51 yard bomb that Russell Wilson somehow maneuvered. Kearse’s 35 yard TD grab on 4th and long was just silly. Their reliability and physicality have been the difference makers on an offense that hasn’t looked all that fluid at times this season.

Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

On the other side of the ball, Seattle has boasted the league’s premier defense for the last two seasons. On Sunday, they made the necessary plays in order to advance to the biggest game of their lives. They forced 3 fumbles, recovered one of them and registered two interceptions off Colin Kaepernick – both at critical points in the game. Although Kaepernick ran all over this defense like a hot knife through butter, they held San Francisco’s running backs to a combined 31 yards rushing.

And of course, how could I not mention the post game spectacle. Everyone was in an uproar after Richard Sherman’s…comments. However, this is the reality of the situation: the rivalry that the 49ers and the Seahawks have is a rarity in today’s NFL; they genuinely hate each other. Pete Carroll and Jim Harbaugh have history against one another dating back to their days at USC and Stanford. It’s a feud that resides in the fabric of the Pacific Northwest. The rest of the country really doesn’t understand it and that’s part of the reason why people were so critical of Sherman for what he said immediately after the game.

Here’s a newsflash for everyone: this is not a nice game. If you want to interview a player immediately after he made the biggest play of his career, against his biggest rival, on the biggest stage, then that’s what you’re going to get; raw emotion. The guy is the best corner in football right now. He’s earned the right to say whatever he wants in the manor that he wants. You can argue he took the spotlight away from his teammates by what he did, but at that moment in the game, the spotlight was on him and no one else.

If you don’t love to see that, then you’re either a 9ers fan, or you don’t understand what the NFL is about. This wasn’t a sport where players used to give each other hugs after the game and gather for mid-field prayer circles; these guys are gladiators. They used to be at one another’s throats, yelling threats and playing to instill fear in the man across from them.

Modern fans are victims of Roger Goodell’s NFL: a softer NFL that promotes wholesomeness and setting a good example. I’m not saying there isn’t any good in that, but the NFL has become a product of the sensitive, politically correct world that we live in. Richard Sherman is a great reminder that NFL players are human beings with real emotions, not just objects of mass entertainment that get shunned when they step out of line.

Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

All I’m saying is that these players live a unique lifestyle; one that isn’t always so kind to the mind and body. We are prone to accusations and misjudgments when we see something we don’t like. But in reality, we don’t know the half of what these players go through.

On a different note, it’s pretty funny how Richard Sherman got the Beats commercial after Kaepernick had his for weeks where he was being heckled by fans in blue and green…not suggestive of Seahawks fans or anything.

In today’s offensively-minded, quarterback-driven league, the Seattle Seahawks have given new life to the old saying, “defense wins championships.” Now, we will get to see a Super Bowl matchup that transcends the NFL as we know it; the ultimate hard-nose, no nonsense defense versus the greatest offense to ever take the field. Consider it a Groundhog Day for league; defense will prove its staying power for years to come, or the age of offense will be in full bloom.

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