I watched the 2015 NFC Championship game at my house with a bunch of friends. Sometimes I was on the couch, sometimes an easy chair. Sometimes, the floor, because I figured the game was going to put me there anyway. Early on, I was in the kitchen, doing hosting things, listening to the repeated yells of "FUMBLE!", but by the fourth quarter I was standing, pacing, rationing Skittles [I should have bought more], hugging people.
I was anxious and fidgety and on edge. The Seattle Seahawks were not, and eventually, after a string of improbable plays, we were all having a blast.
This box score doesn't make any sense. It will never make any sense.
Look at the drive chart. The Seahawks had drives that lasted:
- 48 seconds. Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson throws an interception on the third play.
- 19 seconds. Wilson throws an interception on the first play.
- 9 seconds. Wilson throws an interception on the first play.
- 0 seconds. Doug Baldwin fumbles a kickoff return, and the box score calls that a drive, which is pretty disrespectful to the very concept of a drive. I suppose it doesn't stand out as that much worse than those other three.
The Green Bay Packers had three first-half drives that started inside the Seattle 35, and two that started at their own 44.
The Seahawks were supposed to lose that game, right? On the box score page, there is a stack of four demoralizing 'G' logos in the scoring summary. Green Bay led 16-0 at half. We refused to watch highlights. The party was destined to turn ugly, the nachos ought to have turned sour, the banter should have died down or turned spiteful and mean. Someone should have said "ballgame".
Instead, people said things like:
They just need to get going here.
The defense is playing an incredible game.
Just keep giving the ball to Marshawn.
Stock phrases of modern Seahawks fandom. Comforting platitudes. I have great friends.
Don't get me wrong - we were anxious and nervous and openly discussed the probability of losing - a 90% plus chance for most of the 4th quarter, as it turns out. We tightened up, but I think all of us recognized that the Seahawks weren't, even though they were hurting and staggered and losing a lot of individual battles. But they didn't panic.
2015 is a good time to watch live football. You get to luxuriate in the good moments in HD replays. Camera crews do a good job providing shots of the competitors in between the bursts of competition. I remember this moment as much as any of the insane plays the Seahawks executed: running back/talisman Marshawn Lynch does a little head-nodding dance on the sideline. Down 12. In the NFC Championship game. Considering he was on the sideline, I think the Packers had the ball and a two-possession lead -- with under 7 minutes to go.
Marshawn Lynch knows a lot of things we don't.
You can't win a football game by merely keeping your composure. You can lose a game by tensing up. I called Packers head coach Mike McCarthy a "coward" in the 1st quarter of the game for not going for touchdowns on Seattle's 1-yard-line twice. That was rude. I'm sure McCarthy isn't a coward. He just hasn't given up fear.
McCarthy is like us, the fans in the living room who can't believe what we're seeing, who exclaim to each other that this is nuts, this is so much more than we expected, we were just talking about how at least we got the fake field goal touchdown and that would be good enough.
Pete Carroll and Russell Wilson and Earl Thomas and this Seahawks team are not like us. They are the opposite of us. The Seahawks led the game for one minute and eleven seconds in regulation. They ran the ball five more times than they threw it.
They don't get shook. They don't get scared. They don't play scared.
We always believe in the guy next to us, no matter what the situation is, no matter what he’s going through. [...] That’s what this team is made of. It’s believing in each other and trusting each other.
That’s what we are: finishers. Every single person on this team is a finisher, or they wouldn’t be on this team. We all know that and respect each other because of that.
I've written a fair amount about how the Seahawks have the best workplace in the NFL. It's an environment that appears to cultivate something close to absolute confidence.
Maybe the Seahawks weren't supposed to lose that game.
After the game, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers said the Packers "were the better team". Debatable. [The Seahawks defense basically turned Rodgers, the presumptive league MVP, into Arizona Cardinals third-stringer Ryan Lindley.]
We know who the most fearless team was.