The Seattle Seahawks Road to a Rematch
Wednesday, January 13, 2016
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
Related Slideshow: 12 of the Greatest Sports Movies of All Time
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