September 24th, 2012. A date which will live in professional football infamy.
The Monday night affair between the Packers and Seahawks brought to an end both Week 3 and the reign of replacement officials in the NFL. That game also marked something very significant for the participants involved, one in particular.
You see, that was the day Seattle began to believe in themselves.
|Photo by: Dean Rutz|
But the Seahawks? They were just the beneficiaries of some shoddy officiating. Their 2-1 record at the time was nothing more than a mirage, and they would soon look like the same team that had finished the two previous years with a 7-9 record.
Or so we thought.
What we all failed to take into account was the big boost of confidence the win that evening injected into Pete Carroll's squad. Luck be damned, the Seahawks took the momentum from that win and ran with it, all the way to Sunday night's game against the 49ers, a team that entered the contest riding the high of having knocked off Tom Brady and the Patriots in Foxborough just 6 days prior.
Apparently, Seattle wasn't impressed.
And really, why should they have been? They too had beaten New England this season, and they had outscored their previous two opponents 108 to 17.
San Francisco had won the previous meeting between the teams by a final of 13-6, but that was with Alex Smith at the helm. Jim Harbaugh had since named second-year man Colin Kaepernick the starting quarterback, and his superior athleticism was supposed to cause opposing defenses more problems.
Again, Seattle wasn't impressed.
The Seahawks were in control from the get-go, jumping out to a 21-0 lead in route to a 42-13 blowout win.
All things considered, it wasn't even that close.
Seattle dominated every phase of the game. Offense. Defense. Special teams. Russell Wilson threw 4 touchdown passes. Marshawn Lynch rushed for over 100 yards. The defense caused turnovers. The special teams put points on the board. The 49ers looked like a shell of the team they had been only 6 short days before, and that's when it hit me.
These Seahawks are for real.
Not only is Seattle playing their best football of the season at the right time, but they're clicking on all cylinders. Their young quarterback, who by the way, is now right in the middle of the Rookie of the Year conversation, isn't turning the ball over, and he's making plays with both his arm and his legs. Their Pro Bowl back is a beast, and he's capable of breaking off a long run at any time. And their defense? Well it might be the most impressive thing of all. They're swarming. They're hard-hitting (ask Vernon Davis). They force mistakes. They even score points. Everything you expect a top-tier NFL defense to do -- they do.
The thing is, it all goes back to that Week 3 game against the Packers.
That September night, the Seahawks had hope instilled in them. A sense of specialness. The thought of "this could be our year" embedded in their brains. The seed was planted, and the idea continued to grow into the reality it has become. Seattle knew then they had a purpose, it just took the rest of us a little while longer to realize it, too.
And if the rest of the National Football League doesn't get up to speed, a certain team from the Pacific Northwest may very well hoist the Lombardi Trophy come February 3rd.