This is what happens, Larry. You see what happens? This is what happens when a) the best team in the NFL b) plays its best game of the year and c) gets a few breaks along the way. They rout a very good, 9-2 team by nearly 30 points.
Let’s examine these conditions a bit more closely.
[This scene : Big Lebowski :: Seahawks : NFL]
a) I don’t think there’s any question that right now the Seahawks are the best team in the NFL. They have the best record; they have the largest point differential; they’re number one in DVOA; no team has more “big wins”*; and their quarterback is the most exciting player since QB Eagles. At this point home field advantage throughout the playoffs is looking like a foregone conclusion (two wins in their last four games will do it), and the main question fans are starting to wonder is whether the Seahawks are going to be the ’98 Vikings or the ’98 Broncos. (It won’t surprise you I’m pulling for the latter.)
b) As to this game specifically, the execution was as good as I’ve seen from the ‘Hawks in the Pete Carroll Era. Nearly flawless. They had one bad drive on each side of the ball. That’s it. On offense, Russell Wilson and the receivers might as well have been playing Tecmo Super Bowl. Rob Ryan should take it personally, what they did to his rejiggered Saints pass D. After Wilson’s 56-yard completion to Doug Baldwin in the face of an all-out blitz, I half-expected him to walk past Ryan and do the Dikembe Mutombo finger wag (although perhaps the Richard Sherman cuckoo pantomime would’ve been more in spirit). And it wasn’t even his best pass. That would be the back-shoulder hitch to Jermaine Kearse on 3rd and 9 from his own 13; that play was virtually undefendable. Toss in the pinpoint slants to Golden Tate and the sideline lob to Ricardo Lockette, and it was an MVP-type performance by Wilson. And just as I predicted, he’s starting to get mentioned as a candidate.** Ray Lewis, in particular, broached the subject in that post game thing where he, Steve Young, Trent Dilfer, and Stuart Scott chat and stand around on the field looking cold and awkward.
On defense, the ‘Hawks held a Drew Brees-led offense to under 188 total yards. Their previous low on the year was 347. That speaks for itself.
c) Then, to top everything off, the random gods of football physics smiled on the Seahawks last night. Not in a major way, but with enough love to make the game a blowout instead of just a solid victory. When Marshawn Lynch fumbled on the ‘Hawks first series, Max Unger was in position to fall on it. When Drew Brees fumbled shortly thereafter, the ball popped up perfectly to Michael Bennett who had a clear path to the end zone. Then there was the deflected touchdown pass to Derrick Coleman. Then there were several nearly caught passes by the Saints and one near-interception — balls that barely hit the ground, or went off the receiver’s finger tips, or were blindly tapped away at the last moment by a defender — that under slightly different cosmic circumstances could’ve gone New Orleans’ way and changed the trajectory of the game. I mean, with the way the ‘Hawks played, they still win, but it’s a lot closer than 34-7. It’s like a head-to-head poker game. If both players draw with equal luck, the better player will prevail in the end. If both players are evenly matched, then one who gets better cards will win. But if a player is better and is dealt better cards, well … You see what happens.
*A win over a top-10 DVOA team. The ‘Hawks have three — Carolina, New Orleans, and San Francisco. The only team with as many is the Colts — San Francisco, Seattle (boo), and Denver.
**From the link: “I’m calling it now. In the next few weeks, you’re going to start to hear some Russell Wilson-MVP buzz among NFL talking heads.” I’d feel a lot more pride in this call if anybody actually read this blog.