The morning after the big hyped-up NFL game at Qwest Field yesterday between “division-leading” Kansas City Chiefs and the semi-hapless Seattle Seahawks, Costco reported a surge in Prozac sales by the case.
Seahawk fans were snapping up available supplies, not for Christmas presents, but to ease their own withered egos and bitter agony, despondent over the humiliating loss to their former division rivals.
Meanwhile, newspaper columnists and pundits breaking down the game had little to say other than the team just isn’t all that good.
Most fans and team officials alike are scratching their heads this morning, pondering how a professional football team can look so bad a week after looking pretty good.
Befuddlement and fan squealing could be heard on talk radio stations across the state with suicide teams put on special alert.
Of Seattle’s five victories, three have come from within the division. Two others were against decent teams, second place AFC West (6-5) San Diego and first place NFC North (8-3) Chicago.
Recent losses have suggested this team is a bit schizophrenic, if not a bit moody. Some days they play like Super Bowl contenders, while other days they play like the Middlethorpe Floundering Eagles of eight-man junior high football.
Of their most recent losses, one was against the second place NFC East (7-4) NY Giants 41-7, who the next week lost to last place Dallas 33-20. Second place NFC South (8-3) New Orleans beat the Seahawks 36-18, and then came yesterday’s loss to AFC West division-leading (7-4) Kansas City. And who can forget the putrid loss early in the season to the now last place NFC West (3-8) Denver Broncos 31-14?
Yesterday after the game, even normally skippy coach Pete Carroll was fed up, saying how disappointed he was with the team in general. There had been too many dropped passes and failed third downs.
“We’ll not come into this home stadium and play that terrible again,” he said, although those words sound very similar to those uttered after the NY Giants debacle.
Yet the fact that the Seattle is leading the division after 11 games, crappy or not, is a near miracle considering that Carroll’s management team has overseen 260 roster moves in 10 months with almost a dozen new starters.
But rather than wail woefully at the injustice of it all, perhaps it might be more productive to examine the five biggest plays of the game. What made the Seahawks lose, and how could things have changed if just a handful of plays had gone differently?
Yes, it was 42-24 by the time it was over, and yes, Seattle had a mere 20 yards rushing compared to Kansas City’s 270. But as with most games, statistics are a reflection of the momentum. If the momentum changes, so do the statistics.
Here now are the top five things that had they gone differently for Seahawks yesterday, we Seattle fans may have been dancing on rooftops rather than about to stick our heads under running lawnmowers.
Trailing 7-0 with 5:08 left in the first quarter, Seattle’s Craig Terrill blocked a Kansas City 43-yard field goal attempt.
Actually, the kick was a low drive, and it looked like the Chiefs' Ryan Succop may have hit the top of the ball. Terrill just happened to have his hand up.
Just sayin'. But it was a big play and kept the Seahawks in the game instead of trailing 10-0.
Trailing 7-0 with 9:45 left in the first quarter, on a 4th-and-1, Matt Hasselbeck missed wide receiver Golden Tate by a mile, which had he made the throw would have given the Seahawks a first down somewhere near the Kansas City 25-yard line.
It was huge because it was a momentum-changer. Kansas City got the ball back at the Seattle 38 instead of the Seahawks tying the game, or at least having the ball within field goal range to take a shot at it!
Sorry to be so blatantly obvious, but if I forgot this one I'd be facing mobs with torches at my doorstep.
Still trailing 7-0 almost five game minutes later, Seattle’s Kennard Cox blocked the Chiefs' Dustin Colquitt’s punt right into the hands of Seahawk stud Earl Thomas, who returned it for a tying touchdown.
That resulted in a 7-7 tie with 39 seconds left in the first quarter.
With the Seahawks trailing 14-7 with 4:16 left in the first half, Hasselbeck passed to a wide open space with nobody in it. Actually, the pass was to a fallen down Brandon Stokley, who looked like he got tripped while cutting across the middle.
If it had been pass interference, Seattle would have had the ball in the red zone and likely would have come away with at least a field goal.
Instead, Kansas City immediately answered with a six-play drive and finished with a pass to a wide open Dwayne Bowe for a touchdown and a 21-7 lead with just over a minute left in the half.
With the adored Seahawks trailing 21-17 in the third quarter, Seattle opened the half with running plays to Marshawn Lynch up the middle plus a screen pass, all of which were very effective.
Consequently Hasselbeck had more time to throw, and the passing game began to click. Seattle moved the ball to midfield after a Kansas City three-and-out.
On a 2nd-and-6 from the Seattle 42-yard line with 6:19 left, Hasselbeck hit Deon Butler in the numbers with a ball that he mysteriously dropped.
Gnashing of teeth and cries of outrage could be heard from fans across King County.
Had Butler caught the ball, Seattle would have had the momentum and quite possibly may have scored to take the lead.
Instead it left Seattle with a 3rd-and-6 in which Hasselbeck nearly got sacked on a hurried attempt to Golden Tate, followed by a punt.
Kansas City answered with an 11-play drive that consumed the last six minutes of the third quarter to take a 28-17 lead.
Seattle looked and played deflated after this, never threatened again when it mattered, going three-and-out to give the ball back to the Chiefs. The Chiefs again answered with a three-play drive in just over a minute to take a 35-17 lead.
The point being that although the Seahawks got drilled in this game, a measly five plays could have made a huge difference. Had they the ball with a chance to score trailing by four points, we might all be buying party drinks today instead of setting appointments with our therapists.
Hence the scores the Seahawks have put up this year appear to be huge swings with a team playing terrific one week but terrible the next. But the fact is that football games usually come down to just a handful of plays that are difference-makers.