Seattle Seahawks Lowering the Boom on the 2012 Season
"What did you expect?"
As Dan Carpenter's field goal split the uprights on Sunday, my wife's words burned through my ears.
Oddly enough this is Dolphins v Hawks">exactly what I expected when reviewing the Seahawks' schedule a few weeks ago. Still I had hoped for better on Sunday following the team's bye week after two straight home wins.
It was the kind of Sunday that will likely haunt the 'Hawks for a very long time as things went from bad to worse over the course of what turned out to be a very long day.
It wasn't so much the fact the Seahawks lost on a field goal as time expired. It was how they managed to find themselves in such a position to begin with.
With the exception of a few bright moments on Sunday, watching the Seahawks play was painful, redundant and vexing. Yet for a time during the second half, it seemed like they might just escape Miami with the win.
Of course it wasn't meant to be.
Seattle Times writer Steve Kelley perhaps captured the feeling about Sunday best, "There almost was an inevitability about this game. No way the Seahawks could lose. They were going to beat the pants off the spread. You could have bet the mortgage on this win."
Months from now, when the season is reduced to be nothing more than a few mental snapshots, the image of Earl Thomas being flagged for roughing Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill will be one of the more painful to endure as it erased what would have been Bobby Wagner's potential game-saving interception.
Initially I thought perhaps my judgement was clouded, but even Sports Illustrated's Don Banks felt compelled to make note of the questionable call along with several other commentators later on:
The pivotal roughing-the-quarterback call against Seahawks safety Earl Thomas -- which negated an end zone interception by Seattle rookie linebacker Bobby Wagner in the fourth quarter -- was beyond ticky-tacky. I know any contact with a quarterback above the shoulders draws a hankie these days, but Thomas was airborne before Miami's Ryan Tannehill released the ball, and didn't land anything but a glancing blow on the quarterback on his way down (making no helmet-to-helmet contact of any kind).
Still, it seemed like the day was saved as Leon Washington took the ensuing kickoff 98-yards to give the 'Hawks a 21-14 lead. Yet while Washington's return initially seemed like the best thing that could have happened, it turned out to be the worst thing that could have happened to the 'Hawks at that point.
Yes, the 'Hawks regained the lead, but at the same time the offense didn't get a chance to reestablish control of the game and neither did the defense as it wilted in the south Florida sun.
By the time it was over, rookie Ryan Tannehill carved up the 'Hawks like Thanksgiving leftovers by allowing the 'Fins to score 17 points in the game's final eight-plus minutes.
It was painful to watch, but even worse was the dread of knowing it was about to unfold as just about everyone on defense looked lost in the final quarter. The whole time I kept wondering where and when the secondary would step up to make a play to shift the momentum.
Nothing. Nothing, but a quick easy march up field for the Dolphins to set up Carpenter's kick—24-21 Dolphins.
A game that the 'Hawks should have and needed to win, but lost.
Then to make matters even worse, ESPN's Adam Schefter broke the news that, "starting cornerbacks Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner are facing four-game suspensions for violating the NFL's performance-enhancing drug policy, according to league sources."
Did we simply blow out a tire along the road or is this the beginning of something far more troubling?
Hard to say, but it's hard to trust what's going on at the moment.
Rooting for a team is in many ways like a relationship. There are highs and lows, but trust is usually a key component in order for things to work. Today it's hard to not feel a bit foolish with how things have unraveled in the past 24 hours given that so many important questions remain unanswered.
Why can't this team win on the road?
Can the 'Hawks rebound and still make the playoffs?
Do the 'Hawks have a serious drug problem?
How Pete Carroll responds to this will be his first serious test during his tenure in Seattle.
Funny how a few weeks ago we all hemmed and hawed over the quarterback situation, complained about the team's wide receivers and wondered whether or not the defense was truly elite.
Are the 'Hawks in Trouble?
Now suddenly two key players at the same position potentially face suspension for four of the season's final five games as the team clings to its playoff hopes.
Perhaps the most cruel joke in all of this is how quarterback Russell Wilson looks like he's finally figured things out, while everyone and everything else around him has fallen apart for the moment.
Why this team can't win on the road is beyond explanation at this point, but anything short of a win in Chicago next Sunday will likely require a miracle finish by the 'Hawks to make the postseason.
Yet what troubles me more is the situation with Sherman and Browner and by extension rookie safety Winston Guy. Last week Guy briefly made news with his suspension for testing positive for a banned substance, but that was easy to downplay given his minimal role with the team. Now suddenly two starters who work alongside Guy in the team's secondary have run afoul of the commissioner's office with their own issues.
For now both are innocent until proven guilty, but it seems that the two have a lot of explaining to do. Until their names are cleared and they are back on the field, the 'Hawks' immediate future looks to be in peril for a season that initially had such high hopes.
As much as I'd like to know what will happen next, I believe we will have to simply keep faith in the situation and wait for what could be a very long week ahead of us. It also brings us back to where we started, by asking: "What did you expect?"
In short, I expected better than this and I'm sure that you did too.
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