SEATTLE, WA - OCTOBER 2: Runningback Marshawn Lynch #24 of the Seattle Seahawks somersaults in the end zone after scoring a touchdown against the Atlanta Falcons during play at CenturyLink Field on October 2, 2011 in Seattle, Washington. The Falcons won the game 30-28. (Photo by Stephen Brashear /Getty Images)
Isn't being a fan supposed to be fun? Well, it was this week.
Watching your team lose is never a good feeling, but watching your team get blown out and embarrassed is markedly worse. This Seahawks team, in the past 12-13 months or so, has had it's fair share of embarrassing and depressing blowout losses. It's tough to come up with things to write about after those losses. When the Seahawks were methodically manhandled in Pittsburgh Week 2, I shuddered at the thought of re-watching the game and I admittedly barely even got through it once.
That's not at all the feeling I had after this game.
Yeah, the Seahawks came away with a loss but the way they lost made it fun as a fan. An exciting comeback, big plays down the field, defensive stops, tense 3rd downs, a potentially historic 61-yard field goal for the win. This is what football is about and honestly when I've been watching the last few Seahawks games I remember thinking to myself at least once each game:
"Man, anybody watching this game that's not a Seahawks or _______ fan must just be dying of boredom."
Even as a Seahawks fan, watching them beat the Cardinals at home last week you had to guess that pretty much no one outside of Seattle and Phoenix gave two craps about watching that game. 13-10, low scoring, sloppy, not much in the fantasy football department, aka the only reason to watch Seattle play Arizona if you've got that East-Coast bias.
This week was different. I was on the edge of my seat for most of the fourth quarter. Literally. I had to sit up and watch more closely as the game came down to the final minutes. There were big plays by both teams. Big third down conversions, big hits. Big front flips into the endzone.
One example: Fourth Quarter. The Seahawks were driving into Falcons' territory down nine, only to have the ball picked off after Zach Miller got lit up from behind going into the endzone. The Falcons took the ball back and went three and out on a gutsy Seahawks' defensive stand. The ensuing punt was returned to the Atlanta 11 yard line by Neon Leon Washington the human sparkplug. The next play, Marshawn Lynch off left tackle for 11 yards and a TD.
These swings of momentum and roller coaster rides of emotion are what makes watching this sport compelling and I can't remember having so many mood swings watching a Seahawks game for a long time, probably since January 8th.
It helps that the Seahawks improved in many facets of the game. The protection was there. The run game caught on in the 2nd half a bit. The big play element was huge. Tarvaris Jackson completed passes of 52, 30, and 26 yards. If you count only the completions he had to receivers and tight ends (ie, not to his running backs), they averaged 16.3 yards per catch. That is really, really awesome when you're talking about the excitement factor.
Seahawks fans have become accustomed to seeing West Coast Offenses predicated on dink and dump, horizontal passing to take the place of the run game. For instance, the Hawks averaged 6.5 yards per completion last season and so far this year had averaged 9.4, 8.0, and 9.5 yards per catch against the 49ers, Steelers, and Cardinals, respectively. Well, those kind of numbers are probably not going anywhere but this game proved that the vertical passing attack still has a pulse in Seattle. This, I like.
Regardless of the loss, if you're Joe Shmoe living in New York or California and don't give a crap about the Hawks or Falcons, I still think this would be an exciting game to watch. You can't say that about a lot of Seahawks games lately so I'm proud to point it out today.
My usual mood and temperament whilst watching Seahawks games varies between sullen, stressed, intrigued, bored, encouraged, then eventually crestfallen over the course of a game. Those moods were present, sure, but you can add the emotion related to having pure, unadulterated and unbridled fun in there for the first time this season. I sat there smiling, even after the final kick went short and left.