The Shit In The Middle (Round 2).

I told Emily to wake me up in the morning if everyone decided to go to breakfast on Sunday. She did and we did, this little café just down the road apiece. VERY cheap food, adequately prepared. I took my leave of everyone at noon because I had to catch a train into Manhattan and watch football.

Look, I'm not gonna say we blew it, I'm not gonna say we should've won. We played hard. Our coaching staff is so brilliant, they managed to take a team as banged up and depleted as we've become and create a scheme that allows us to hang in there among the best. They know how to target the other team's weakness and how to get the utmost effort out of our guys. On a level playing field - if we had the same amount of health at the positions that the Bears did - we would've won that game, even if it was still played in Chicago.

That's the kind of game you're just glad to see your team in - and by in, I mean staying close on the scoreboard. I never for one minute felt comfortable about our chances over there, even when we had that lead in the 3rd quarter. It seemed like, if they wanted to, Chicago could've moved the ball at will on us every time, but their play-calling and execution wasn't there. RARELY did we force them into doing something they didn't want to do - with the exception of the fumble Peterson induced, among a few other well-placed blitzes - they just fucked up mostly on their own. And, even when our offense managed to get some first downs against their superior defense, I always felt like it was just a matter of time before they put the hammer down. Every time I saw us get 9 yards on 2nd & 10 was like a dagger to my spine; we lost this game because we never could convert any of those 3rd & 1s.

That's what it boils down to. Sure, D-Jack had some bobbles/drops. Sure, Hasselbeck threw that TERRIBLE interception - granted, they didn't score off of it, but they had the field position battle won, leading up to their later 4th quarter field goal to tie it. Sure, Grossman had that long-bomb we've been waiting on for the last two weeks since our cornerbacks went down. Sure, there was a penalty or two worth questioning down the stretch. None of that mattered; with two minutes left in the 4th quarter and overtime to come, not to mention the rest of the game before that, it seemed like every time we had a 3rd down with 1 yard to go or less, we'd be running head-first into a breached dam, with nothing but Bears defenders spilling through our porous blocking. Every time they needed the big stand from their D-Line, whether it be to stuff a run or sack our quarterback on Third Down, it seemed like they got it. Every time we needed to force a punt on Third & Long, they'd complete a 30-yard pass to some flunky receiver, ball whizzing right through our defenders' hands.

I don't believe in moral victories. I don't believe in being Proud of a season that falls below preseason expectations. We were supposed to coast to a division title, nab another first round bye, and steamroll our way to a second consecutive Super Bowl appearance, this time climbing over the hurdle to victory. Granted, injuries and suspect offseason deals screwed us in the end, but I take no solace in the fact that we "Competed." I'm not one of these pussy Seattle fans who casually blows off the loss with a tepid, "Oh, but it was a good season anyway. I don't care if we didn't win, because I'm a cockass. The Seahawks are still champions in my heart." Blow me! The Seahawks are champions of nothing!

And you know what REALLY pisses me off? I saw it all fucking week; the Seahawks in interviews kept coming off with a Just Happy To Be Here attitude. Every fucking day, all they'd talk about is how they overcame all these injuries and pulled out a miraculous victory against Dallas. This notion of, "Well, we're not supposed to be here, so the pressure's all on Chicago because this is like a free-pass and we can just go out there and have fun." Bullshit! Football isn't fun for anyone! It's the sole source of stress in my life and every fucking Sunday I'm as tightly wound as MacGyver is calm and cool. I don't want you to be happy to be ANYWHERE! I want swagger! I want you to induce fear in your opponents! This isn't Make A Wish Day for Retards, this is the National Football League, you're the NFC West Division Champions, so why don't you start acting like you FUCKING belong on the God-Damned field instead of bringing cups of Gatorade to the likes of Ben Roethlisberger?

***

Like I said before, it's hard to describe the mindset of the Sports Fan. Why we harbor such attachments to sports teams when we hold no personal ties to anyone on them. Why we associate said teams with words like "We" - "We sure did lose a heartbreaking close game Sunday afternoon" - even though we're not necessarily a member of said team. Never more do I question the rationale behind being a fan of sports than when my team gets knocked out of the playoffs.

Being a sports fan like I am, it takes more than simply watching the games when they're on television. Hours upon hours are spent reading articles from multiple news outlets, gathering information, thinking about our prospects for the present/upcoming season, questioning the decisions of the coaches/general managers in their personnel moves, listening to sports radio to get alternate opinions. It's a full time fucking job! I think of all that I do on behalf of this team from mid-July through mid-January (with extensive concentrated dedication come draft time thrown in as well) in informing myself about their every known orifice, just so I can watch their final game end in a loss. Then, to start all over again.

What's the point? Do you know what the odds are of your team making it to the Super Bowl? Generally, pretty shitty. You can go DECADES without seeing your team even SNIFF success ever again; and yet here we are, riding the rollercoaster of disaster year in and year out. Best case scenario, let's say your team is considered a Dynasty Team. Do you know what constitutes a dynasty? Three Super Bowl victories within a 6 year period. THAT'S IT! Because teams aren't expected to be elite for very long because there's a very fine window of opportunity for success. Players get old, players get too good for the payroll, freak injuries plague your season, teams around you get better and younger and hungrier because you've taken their glory year in and year out, newly signed/drafted replacements don't pan out like the leaders you've had before ... the list goes on and on. As Seahawks fans, we could be looking at the last two or three years of us being good before we're the Arizona Cardinals once again. Shaun Alexander won't be as durable as time goes on because that's what running backs do - they wear down. Matt Hasselbeck's already showing signs of shaky decision-making, it's only a matter of time before he's a poor-man's Washed Up Brett Favre (not even as good as a Washed Up Brett Favre, he'll be the poor-man's version). If we run into some lean drafts (already we've given up our first-rounder to acquire Deion Branch for this year's draft) and sign some guys who don't fit that well in the system, it'll only be a matter of time before we're dreadful once again.

Having said all that, I'm powerless to give this shit up. It's an interest of mine, a passion of mine, and it's one of the few things I'm particularly knowledgable at. I'll take this loss with the same grain of salt that I take every other Seahawks playoff loss. Then, next summer, I'll ramp up my interest once again for a season full of hope. Because next year, we'll do something we couldn't do this year:

We're going to win the whole fucking thing.