The Elephant in the Locker Room: Expect the Unexpected When Seattle Meets Dallas
By Greg Wright
In Seattle, Russell Wilson’s home field debut in 2012, the Hawks’ special teams and defense came up with big play after big play in the first half to stifle Tony Romo and company. We weren’t used to expecting this sort of performance from the Seahawks, but it heralded the beginning of Pete Carroll’s Championship era. In spite of being favored and stocked with stars and blue-chip draft picks, Dallas limped home after a 27-7 thumping on national TV.
Last year when Dallas returned to Seattle, the defending Super Bowl Champion Hawks were 3-1, putting together wins against Green Bay, Denver, and Washington despite looking awful at times doing it. Nonetheless, everybody was expecting Seattle to win at home. After all, only Arizona had defeated Russell Wilson on his home turf to that point.
As in 2012, special teams and defense staked the Hawks to an early 10-0 lead… and then the game turned into a slugfest. DeMarco Murray ran for 115 yards while Marshawn Lynch was largely silenced. The defense not only lost the lead, but gave up a mind-boggling first down on 3rd and 20 in the closing moments of the game, leading directly to Dallas’ winning touchdown. Seattle’s offense stumbled through their final two possessions, with Wilson throwing a first-down interception with 48 seconds remaining.
Percy Harvin finished the matchup on the bench, refusing to take the field in the fourth quarter.
Everyone, from season ticket holders to the vendors to the owners, left that game completely baffled by the outcome. Something looked decidedly broken, and something needed fixing. This was not the way the story was supposed to be written for a team with Championship-repeat aspirations.
Things just don’t seem to work out as planned when these two teams get together.
After all, let’s not forget that crazy playoff win in Seattle in 2006, when Jordan Babineaux tripped up Romo on his way toward the endzone after a mishandled snap on a potentially game-winning field goal chip shot.
Prognosticators are figuring this to be tight game with the Hawks coming out on top by 7 to 10 points. And why not? Dallas is playing without Tony Romo; they traded Murray before the start of the season, and former starting back Joseph Randle is dealing with all kinds of strange personal issues; Greg Hardy is a distraction; and Dez Bryant won’t be 100%. Meanwhile, Seattle has almost all of its 22 starters completely healthy. So the home field advantage isn’t expected to quite do the trick for the Cowboys, who the pundits figure will… do what, exactly, to contest the outcome? Run the ball with authority? Pass effectively? Shut down Seattle’s running game?
My gut tells me this won’t be close at all.
Whatever the script might be for this week’s matchup, throw it out the window. Three or four players on one of these teams, probably those you least expect, will turn this affair into some kind of blowout. And yes, it could be Dallas that makes it happen. It really could. It might be former Seahawk Christine Michael, who could get a significant number of carries for Dallas.
But I’m guessing this one lands in Seattle’s favor.
Greg Hardy will likely wreak havoc on Seattle’s passing attack, but look for the ground game to be very strong. Seattle’s defense will play another complete game, and special teams will finally cut something loose.
Seattle 35, Dallas 10.
After two Super Bowl appearances in a row, everyone’s paying attention… yet even with all the scrutiny, it seems that there’s always some key issue that’s getting glossed over. It’s the elephant in the locker room, if you will, and gosh darn if I’ll let that ride. Join us on Saturday mornings for a little closer look at our NFC West Champions.