Yes, there is always plenty of chatter about our perennial Super Bowl hopefuls. But I also find that there is always some angle to Seahawks coverage that just doesn’t seem to get enough airplay. This column is dedicated to that “elephant in the locker room.”
Is it possible for me to tell you how satisfying it is to watch the Seahawks beat Pittsburgh?
No, not really. So I won’t try. But I will tell you that a thought crossed my mind after Big Ben failed to return to the field of play in the second half of the game. That thought?
This really is starting to feel like 2013 again.
I opened up the season with a bold prediction that the 2019 campaign was going to look an awful lot like 2012, that year when Seattle became the bad boy on the block, and started intimidating the heck out of opposing teams… before the games even started. I didn’t want to say “like 2013,” because that was the Super Bowl year, and the Legion of Boom was fully fledged; but I’m not not the only one who is now using the “like 2013” phrase. It’s occurring to other journalists, too. For good reason, beyond the simple fact that the last time Seattle started 2-0 was 2013.
Here’s what I’m seeing. I described it with the following words toward the end of the 2014 season, when it was a certifiable fact and not just a feeling.
“It started on a brisk December evening almost exactly two years ago.
“A couple of days before Christmas in 2012, the Seahawks hosted San Francisco in a nationally televised game. Playoff berths were on the line for both teams. With the Seahawks already leading 14-0, the Niners were driving… and this happened:
“Kam Chancellor was flagged for a personal foul on the play, and Vernon Davis left the game with a concussion. The league declined to fine Chancellor for the hit since, as you can see in slow-motion replays, Chancellor led with his shoulder. Davis just happened to be on the receiving end of devastating technique in a violent game.
“Vernon Davis has all but disappeared in subsequent matchups with the Seahawks.
“You may have also noticed since that day that, generally speaking, all-pro tight ends regularly disappear when playing the Hawks.
“You may have also noticed since then that (Philip Rivers aside) all-world QBs look more like Joe Blow than Joe Namath against the Seahawks. At least until garbage time in the fourth quarter, when ‘prevent defense’ allows QBs to accumulate meaningless yardage with throws underneath the coverage.
“Something changed that wonderful December evening.
“Yes, the Seahawks won a lot of games against very good teams during Russell Wilson’s rookie season in 2012. But a lot of those wins looked like the miracle come-from-behinds against Green Bay, New England, and Chicago. They weren’t forged from purely punishing encounters. Losing teams walked away thinking, ‘We should have won that game. We handled the Seahawks, and somehow they won anyway.’
“That changed in 2013.
“In 2013, the Legion of Boom grew up, matured into the brutal style of Kam Chancellor, and when opposing teams limped away–win or lose–they were done. Simply done. Mentally, and physically. Now teams crawl away thinking, ‘We just got our ass handed to us. Glad we don’t have to do that next week!’ Think of that Super Bowl.
“Think also, for instance, of Seattle’s early-season encounter with Houston last year. The Texans were hyped as a Super Bowl hopeful after their surprising and dominating season in 2012. They opened their season at 3-1… and then the Seahawks came to town.
“Three lasting visions still resonate from that game: blood streaming down megastar J.J. Watt’s face from a nose bloodied by an encounter with, yes, Russell Wilson; Richard Sherman moving so fast he left a shoe behind on the way to the endzone with a pick-six; Houston QB Matt Schaub pounding his fist on the turf in frustration.
“The Texans did not win another game all season.
“Matt Schaub was effectively done for the year after having thrown pick-sixes in four consecutive games.
“It was a pattern that would repeat itself throughout the 2013 season as the Hawks went 13-3. 16 times the Seahawks outmuscled their opponents en route to a Super Bowl victory–and in the first fifteen encounters, an interesting thing happened. Not only did they win the vast majority of those matchups, they left opposing teams in shambles afterward.
“In 2013, 10 out 15 teams who played the Seahawks also lost the following week.
“Think about that.
“Not only do you have to face the Seahawks and a very probable loss, you also have to face the fact that you’re likely looking at two losses, not just one. And if you play in the NFC West, the odds are that means four potential losses each season.
“Facing the Seahawks is just brutal.”
Now… are the 2019 Seahawks that good yet? Do we have Legion of Boom 2.0 on our hands? No. But the Thump is back. The intimidation factor is in play. Teams are leaving encounters with Seattle bruised, bloodied, demoralized, and losing.
Granted, Roethlisberger already came into the came hurting; but Seattle got to him, too. With the front seven doing its thing, and the writing on the wall, Big Ben didn’t try for heroics. He sat.
And then… later in the day, Drew Brees injured his thumb so he wouldn’t have to face Seattle tomorrow. Yes, that’s right. Opposing players are already trying to figure out how to avoid the Thump.
Okay, I’m joking about Brees. But I really do think the sheriff is back in town, fans. Get ready to enjoy this ride.