Once upon a time there was a Seahawks team that led the Panthers 20-7 in the third quarter, at home, and still lost 27-23 after giving up two touchdowns inside four minutes to play. Yes that was Carolina’s 15-1 super bowl squad that went on to flatten Seattle in the divisional round, but it was also a Seahawks defense still in the arc of its peak, fully replete with Kam Chancellor, Earl Thomas, Richard Sherman, Cliff Avril and Tasteful Profanity mascot Mike Bennett. And it’s not like the Panthers had notably better offensive talent at the time. Greg Olsen still had three good legs, sure, but they lacked, for example, the running back who supplied half of Carolina’s nearly 500 offensive yards yesterday.
So I bring up this painful collapse from the past only to remind you that despite being harrowed by Cam Newton and Christian McCaffrey repeatedly Sunday, this 2018 Seattle defense “kept pounding” and stood tall when the pounding counted loudest.
The Seahawks never sacked Newton (sorry Griffin) but they stumped him on fourth down at the five yard line on the first drive (Bobby Wagner’s game by the way what the fuck). Then on the subsequent 3rd and 2 from the four, Nasty Naz Jones dropped Ed’s son deep in his breath, behind the line of scrimmage (where life is defined), driving Ron Rivera into a FG state of mind. Together with Bradley McDougald’s end zone interception to start the third quarter, these plays conserved a margin that became intensely crucial as Seattle this time outscored the Panthers 13-7 in the fourth quarter, including forcing the 52-yard field goal attempt that went wide on Carolina’s final possession.
Yes, Chris Carson looked like the best player in pro football on certain plays, and yes Russell Wilson turned into some kind of sniper out of Italo Calvino on others. But Pete Carroll loves defense even more than he loves his assistant offensive line and receivers coaches. And when Pete starts aggressively scratching his chest like Seinfeld after a body shave; when he says after the game “We’re already in the playoffs as far as I’m concerned” and talking about Doug Baldwin’s courage with as much adrenalin in his veins as if his blood has been replaced by bees on cocaine; when he conducts the locker room in a round of Mo Bamba and otherwise does the things that caused one Packers fan to say he was “raised in a barn”, he’s doing that shit because of defense (Mo Bamba is the turnover song after all).
And because this defense did what it did (on the road!) when it needed.
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