Crushed Optimists

We are twin brothers who grew up in Central Washington. This blog is devoted to the life of Seattle sports fans, as well as various other topics that we will espouse for your enjoyment. We could be called another OFFICIAL SEATTLE SEAHAWKS site, but we'll take our uneducated crack at the Mariners, Sonics, and Huskies as well. A Seattle Sports Blog? Must be the land... of crushed optimism!

Monday, November 07, 2005

Seahawks 33, Cardinals 19

One of the worst experiences of my life as a Seahawks fan came last year when the Seahawks came to town to play the then 1-4 Arizona Cardinals.

I had just moved down to Phoenix and Gavin came down so that we could go to the game together. We had our jerseys (Trufant for me, D-Jack for Gavin), we had our pride, and we had the certain knowledge that we were the better team.

We left that stadium with my jersey soaked with beer from a fight between Cardinals fans near us, no pride, and an uncertain knowledge of whether we were the better team or not. Hasselbeck had thrown four picks, Shaun couldn't get going, the Cards blocked a punt, leading to a safety...... it was terrible. All the while we had to deal with this rabid group of drunk Cardinals fans next to us who, when they weren't fighting each other, would flip us off and shout "F**k Seattle" after every Hasselbeck incompletion.

Needless to say, Gavin and I went to the game this year with some trepidation, even going so far as to bring my wife to her first NFL game for good luck. We knew we were the better team, and we had both picked us to win the game..... but there is a lot of fear built into the Seahawks fan's psyche, you know?

We even got tickets in the same section, sitting a few rows behind the EXACT SAME GROUP of drunk Arizona Cardinals fans. Call us a glutton for punishment, but it was time to exorcise some demons.

The Cardinals got off to a fast start, driving down the field with ease, but having to settle for a field goal. At this point, while the Cards fans flipped off our team, I simply held up my index finger. When Trufant brilliantly baited Warner to throw the ball to Fitzgerald and then picked off the pass, I stood up and showed the surrounding stands my Trufant jersey. Fortunately the fans weren't too drunk yet, and I got a few birds and peanuts for my actions.

At halftime we were feeling pretty good. We were up 17-6, our offense was clicking, Shaun was gashing the Cards, and Warner, while moving the ball between the 20s, couldn't get it in the end zone. But we were Hawks fans. We knew it wouldn't be this easy.

However, Shaun started off the 2nd half with his 88 yard touchdown run. We had seats in the end zone, and it was a thing of beauty watching Shaun come towards us leaving Cards defenders in his wake. Brilliant job by Hackett blocking downfield, by the way. 24-6.

This is where it turned bad. Gavin stupidly turned to me and said, "It's over. No way the Cards are scoring 24 points."

As you can see by the final score, that was a true statement. But these are the Seattle Seahawks. You don't tempt fate by saying those kind of things. I quickly retorted to say, "I don't know. I think the magic number for points we need to win is 30."

Our stomachs began to feel green when Warner led the Cards down the field for a Rackers 50 yard field goal. How good is that guy? Seriously. He might be the best field goal kicker I have ever seen, and should be on a playoff team at some point just because I would love to see him in a meaningful game. The score is now 24-9. 15 point gap. 2 touchdowns with a 2-pt conversion.

C'mon guys. Time to turn it on. Well, Scobey, in his return to the desert, gives us a 52 yard kickoff return to give us incredible field position. We had a chance to put this game away. And got nothing, finally passing the ball to Engram for 3 yards just to give us some kind of positive momentum. Rouen comes in with a chance to pin the Cards back and punts the ball into the end zone, cementing my claim that he sucks like a Prisco.

8 minutes left in the 3rd quarter. There is plenty of time left in this game for Warner and the Cards. INTERCEPTION BY HERNDON!! Huge play, taking it to the Cards 17 yard line. Once again, if we can get a touchdown here, we can put this game away.

However, our offense inexplicably fails again. It seems like the Cards defense finally decided to play, and they started to swarm to the football. Pass to Hannam for 8 yards. Alexander gets stuffed and loses a yard. Incomplete to Stevens. Field goal by Brown. 27-9. We have not iced the game. The knot in my stomach does not go away.

The Cardinals get the ball and proceed to have their best drive of the game. Fitzgerald shines, catching the ball twice for 38 yards. The Cards convert a few third downs, including a hard 1 yard run that was almost stuffed by Joe Tafoya and Darby. They get back to the red zone, and have a 1st and goal at the 6. Incomplete to Fitzgerald with a nice play by Boulware. Incomplete to Johnson on a pass that should have been caught. Third down. Could we stop them again? No, as Johnson comes free across the end zone. Touchdown. 27-16. Stomach clenching, drunk fans getting louder.

The fourth quarter starts with our offense getting stuffed once again. Now Gavin and I are having flashbacks to gut-wrenching losses of the past where the Hawks don't have the mental fortitude to put games away. We're just not getting the plays we need!

Arizona gets the ball back. First play from scrimmage, the Cards tight end is WIDE OPEN in the middle of the field and rushes the ball back for a seeming touchdown. I can't believe it. Gavin has a blank stare on his face. Our fears are averted with the welcome sight of yellow flags on the field. The Cards settle for a field goal, cutting the lead to eight points. I'm actually relieved, because I thought the game might be over right there.

There's a penalty on the ensuing kickoff, and the Seahawks start the drive on their own 7 yard line at the end zone where we sit. By this time we all are scared out of our minds. Can the Hawks pull it out? Well, the first play is a 9 yard completion to Mack Strong that was an inch away from being picked off and returned for a touchdown. Massive sigh from me. We work our way to a 3rd and 8 from the Cards 21 yard line. Incomplete pass to Stevens, but we get a pass interference call.

Here's my take on that call. It sure didn't look like PI. But it DEFINITELY was defensive holding, which also would have resulted in a 1st down. Cards fans definitely didn't like it, and two fans who were judo-chopping each other (seriously) even stopped and took the time to flip off the refs.

My stomach is feeling a tad better. On the very next play Bertrand Berry is injured and the defense crumbles. Morris rushes for 28 yards and Shaun scampers into the end zone from 14 yards out.

Game. Set. Match.

The rest of the game was like a dream. Cards fans leave. A few fights break out. Warner throws another pick. And we watch our Seattle Seahawks rise to 6-2 on the season.

Another monkey off the back. Another game that previous versions of this team might have lost.

A look at some game stats:
The Seahawks ran 54 plays to the Cards 72
Hawks were 3-9 on 3rd down, Cards were 8-16 on 3rd down
The Cards also had more 1st downs, more yards, and more time of possession

But the Hawks won by 14? Why?

1. Shaun Alexander - He couldn't be stopped. 173 yards rushing including that 88 yard touchdown scamper that initially blew the game wide open.

2. Bryce Fisher - We knew that Kurt Warner is immobile, but it takes some pressure to take advantage of that. Fisher forced Warner into making some of those turnovers, and applied pretty much consistent pressure all game long, finishing with 2 sacks and a forced fumble.

3. Marcus Trufant - That first interception was huge, letting us take a lead we would never relinquish.

4. Marquand Manuel - Team high 12 tackles for the replacement for Ken Hamlin, he was all over the field.

5. Our offensive line - Only allowed one sack, and opened those holes for Shaun. These guys are the heart and soul of our team.

We didn't need Hasselbeck to play well, and he didn't. It really looks like Arizona is just one of those teams that get into Matt's head, kind of like Tom Brady against Miami. Our wide receivers couldn't separate against a sub-par secondary, finally causing me to pine for D-Jack to come back. Our special teams sucked. Again. So, yes, there are problems. But at the end of the game we won.

Next week is home against the Rams, returning to the memories of one of the worst losses in NFL history. A win basically clinches the NFC West by opening up a 4 game lead (since we would have the tiebreak over the Rams) with 7 games to go. A win also would be as big for us as it would be if Indy beats the Pats tonight from a simple MENTAL perspective.

6-2. Tied for the best record in the NFC at the halfway point. People finally starting to take a little notice.

Life is good.

posted by colin_hesse @ 12:24 PM  1 comments


At 10:54 AM, Blogger nach said...

Felt like I was there... if only it weren't for the winds coming off the frickin' steppe...

I hear the Hawks/Cowboys game is on its way to me. I might get to see it before Thanksgiving!


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