The first play from scrimmage in the championship game was embarrassing. The ball got away from the quarterback, and it quickly turned into a few points for the other team.
Please don’t let this set the tone of the game, I thought. Please.
And it didn’t. Despite Russell Wilson’s first-play fumble and the subsequent field goal, the Seahawks beat the 49ers 23-17 to become NFC champions.
All throughout the post-season I had been hoping somebody would beat the 49ers so we didn’t have to face them. A Seahawks-49ers matchup would mean the two best teams in football had to play each other, and on any given day the better team (Seahawks) might not actually win.
The NFC championship was the real championship game this year, and we knew it at the time.
* * *
I watched almost every Seahawks game but hadn’t seen the Broncos until their AFC championship game against the Patriots. That game surprised me: it didn’t look at all like the football I was used to.
It looked like the civilized, genteel sport of football, where each beloved quarterback gets to take his turn, and everybody’s careful not to to interfere with Manning’s and Brady’s greatness. It was a quiet and mildly interesting tennis match.
The 49ers would have beaten the Broncos too.
When people say there are differences in style between the conferences, I don’t know what to think. I don’t watch enough games to know. But if the Broncos are representative of an AFC style, then I don’t see how that style can stand up to the NFC’s style of hitting and scrambling, of communication and speed, of contesting every single part of every play.
It’s not fancy. There’s little disguise. The strategy is to play better than the other team.
* * *
Before the game, analysts were predicting a close game, with one team or the other winning by a field goal. (Which sounds like a safe bet for any Super Bowl: no shit the teams ought to be pretty evenly-matched.)
After the game, some analysts predicted a Seahawks dynasty, since they’re such a young team. And they predicted that lots of teams would adopt Pete Carroll’s coaching style and the Seahawks’ defensive style.
As if one big win can change the league. I’m skeptical.
As if the 49ers — and Eagles, Saints, Panthers, and Packers — won’t be making some solid moves to knock off Seattle next year.
Remember that the Seahawks nearly lost to the then-winless Buccaneers last November. Anything can happen. Had we lost that game, the 49ers could have won the division and home-field advantage, and likely would have gone to the Super Bowl and beaten the Broncos (35-17 in this alternate world). (But we came back from 21 points down to beat the Bucs in overtime. Because we’re that good.)
* * *
The four major sports leagues are the NFL, MLB, NBA, and NHL. Seattle has a previous championship in these leagues: in 1979 the SuperSonics beat the Washington Bullets four games to one. (Otherwise we go back to 1917 when the Metropolitans beat the Canadiens to become the first U.S. team to win the Stanley Cup.)
To make matters worse, the SuperSonics moved. We don’t have an NHL team. And our baseball team is, well, it’s the Mariners. (Hipsters love them because you’ve never heard of them.)
To say that we were hungry is an understatement.
I don’t know what it means to the city. Something about confidence? Something about community? Something about joy? All that, but the details will take a while to understand.
* * *
I was so totally looking forward to the Super Bowl game. Imagine. I expected it to be close, but I expected to win. My reasoning: 1) a great defense beats a great offense, and 2) our offense is way better than their defense.
Of the individual players I was most excited to see what Percy Harvin would do. Due to injury he’d played only parts of a couple games, but when he was on the field he played beautifully. It’s not that he’s better than everyone else, it’s that he’s so much better than everyone else. So much faster.
When Harvin returned the second-half kickoff for a touchdown, I laughed.
The Broncos defense did do a good job of shutting down Marshawn Lynch. Except, that is, for when it counted, when he was on the one yard line.
And our defense? Well. They’re the most effective and thrilling team in all of sports. (Says me.)
* * *
My friend @rands:
Biggest disappointment of flying during the Super Bowl. Can’t hang out on Twitter and make fun of the Seahawk’s loss.
* * *
I am ridiculously happy — not just a win but a knock-out. Decisive. Unambiguous. Satisfying. Fun.