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The Seattle Seahawks Road to a Rematch

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

 

With less than 30 seconds to go in the game, everyone in the bar sat forward on their chairs and stools, their fingers tapping nervously on the counter. The Seattle Seahawks were up 10-9 when the Minnesota Vikings lined up for a 27-yard field goal. If the kick were good, Seattle would get the ball back with roughly 20 seconds left, and down 12-10. The Vikings were in a perfect position to win the NFC Wild Card match, but then it happened. 

Blair Walsh missed the field goal. 

Kickers miss field goals all the time. It happens. But from 27 yards out, it’s pretty rare. You would generally call a kick from that distance a safe bet. But for those who were watching this game closely, those who saw all of the events in the game that led up to this moment, there were several reasons to believe that the Vikings might miss this one. 

The temperature on the field was below zero. They say in weather like that, kicking a football is like kicking a rock. If that wasn’t enough, the wind was swirling around, changing direction at every moment. Now, Blair Walsh had made three field goals in the game, scoring all of the Vikings points thus far. He was having a great day, but on the last field goal he made, the laces were turned in toward the kicker, (which kickers hate) and Richard Sherman came within inches of blocking the kick.

All day long, the centers and long-snappers were having trouble snapping the ball. Handling a football in subzero temperatures is like playing with a completely different ball, or at least both teams had been making it look that way. Russell Wilson fumbled a bad snap, but was able to recover and even complete a pass to Tyler Lockett. Seahawks punter, John Ryan, had to handle a couple of bad snaps early in the game as well. 

So we knew that it was a hard day to snap the ball accurately. We knew that Richard Sherman almost got to the ball on the previous field goal, and we could assume that Blair Walsh and his holder knew this as well. We know it’s harder to kick on a windy day in extreme cold. 

With all of that knowledge, in the moments before the Vikings missed one of the most important field goals in their franchise’s history, we were on the edge of our seats. And while there were plenty of reasons to think it could be a tougher kick than your average 27-yarder, I don’t think any of us actually expected him to miss it. The bar erupted. 

People jumped from their seats screaming with glee and surprise. Strangers hugged each other hooting and hollering at the television, shocked that Seattle had gotten away with one. The Seahawks had been on the very edge of elimination and somehow, against the odds, walked away the victors. 

All said and done, a win is a win and Seattle is advancing to the Divisional round of the playoffs where they’ll face the team boasting the NFL’s best regular season record, the Carolina Panthers. The Panthers and Seahawks played earlier in the year and Carolina came back in the fourth quarter to win the game. But that was in the first half of the season, before Jimmy Graham was injured, before Russell Wilson and Doug Baldwin caught fire; before Jeremy Lane had returned to the secondary, helping the Legion of Boom get back to being the staunchest defensive group in the league. The Seahawks are a much different looking team than when they last met the Panthers. 

Ultimately, I think the Seahawks will show how happy they are to not be in below-freezing weather next weekend and their defense will handle Cam Newton and the Carolina offense. I’m still picking Seattle to make it back to the Super Bowl and it’s a pretty safe bet that if they do, it’ll be a Super Bowl rematch. 

Three of the four teams still alive in the AFC are also the only three teams the Seahawks have ever played in the Super Bowl. The Steelers, Patriots and Broncos are all playing this weekend, with the Chiefs being the only AFC team still playing that wouldn’t represent a rematch for the Seahawks. 

If the Seahawks do manage to make it back it’ll be with the word, rematch, underlined everywhere. 

So which team would you want to see? Would you rather see the Broncos, the team Seattle beat in the Super Bowl just two years ago, the Patriots who beat the Seahawks in the Super Bowl last year, or the Steelers, who won against us in 2005? 

For me, it’s Pittsburgh, whose win in 2005 was mired in controversy and bad calls by referees. I think the Seahawks are the better team. I thought they were the better team then too. I do love the smell of redemption in the morning! Of course any way your home team makes it to the Super Bowl is compelling, but a rematch adds a little extra excitement.

For the first time in history, the four road teams won in the Wild Card round of the playoffs. And while my point spreads were completely off, (I certainly didn’t predict a blowout in Texas or one-point win in Minnesota) I managed to go 4-0 with last week’s playoff predictions. Is there a chance the road teams can all win again this week? I don’t think the Chiefs will be able to pull off a win in New England, and the Packers should have their hands full going into Arizona. This week is a little tougher to pick, but here are my predictions for the conference championship round. 

Pittsburgh 24 Denver 20

New England 31 Kansas City 17

Arizona 28 Green Bay 20

Seattle 34 Carolina 24

GoLocalPDX partner Oregon Sports News: Since 2011, Oregon Sports News has provided entertaining, hard-hitting local sports news & commentary every weekday. To read more from this author, check out Oregon Sports News by clicking here.

 

Related Slideshow: 12 of the Greatest Sports Movies of All Time

Hank Stern ranks his top twelve favorite sports films. 

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#12 Rollerball

Some of the non-athletic scenes in this dystopian classic show their age, but Rollerball is a strangely prescient film that anticipated both the corporatization of sport and fans’ limitless taste for violence. Bonus points for the ominous intro music.

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#11 A League of Their Own

A comedy that looks back to the antithesis of corporate sport – a women’s baseball league during World War II with many memorable lines to choose from (e.g.,”There’s no crying in baseball.”)

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#10 Remember The Titans

Yes, filmmakers took liberties with some of the facts dealing with the integration of a high school football team in Virginia. But there’s a reason football teams often screen this film on the eve of big games. It’s a damn inspirational tale.

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#9 The Natural

This film has grown on me over time. Originally, it seemed slow and schmaltzy. Now, it seems well-paced and charming. Then and now, the re-created scenes of pre-World War II ballparks arrive like perfectly preserved postcards from the past.  

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#8 The Longest Yard

Not the remake with Adam Sandler and Chris Rock. But the hilarious original with Burt Reynolds and Eddie Albert as a wonderfully villainous warden who pits the guards against the inmates in a grudge football game that includes former Green Bay linebacker Ray Nitschke and other ex-football players like Sonny Sixkiller and Joe Kapp, both stalwart Pac-8 quarterbacks long, long ago.  

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#7 Slap Shot

The Hanson brothers. Enough said.

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#6 Rocky

Often imitated, but never replicated. The definitive underdog boxing story featuring Sylvester Stallone before he became a self-caricature in multiple sequels. Impossible to hear the theme song without being motivated to get off the couch.

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#5 Seabiscuit

A fantastic book as well as a great movie. Like “The Natural,” Seabiscuit captures its Depression-era setting for modern-day viewers taken back to an era when horse racing actually meant something in America. 

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#4 Requiem for a Heavywei

A too often-forgotten film these days but a wonderful boxing drama that shows the sport’s underside with memorable  performances by Mickey Rooney, Jackie Gleason and Anthony Quinn.

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#3 Hoosiers

Want to know something about small-town America in the 1950s and about Indiana basketball? This hoops movie does all of that with a healthy dose of redemption throughout. 

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#2 Bull Durham

There’s a pretty good case to be made this movie played a huge part in the rebirth and re-marketing of minor league baseball. As written by former minor leaguer Ron Shelton, there are many great scenes to choose from but this one is a favorite. 

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#1 Raging Bull

A rags-to-riches-to-rags story of boxer Jake LaMotta meets the actor born to play him, Robert De Niro. Not a false moment in this black-and-white powerhouse.

 
 

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