A GRIP ON SPORTS
Query. If last night's beatdown of the Saints turns out to be a preview of what the Super Bowl will be like, would you enjoy it? Or do you want that game to be more of a contest for the Seahawks? Read on.
• Yep, it seems like a foregone conclusion the Hawks will be playing in the Super Bowl. The three teams seen as the biggest roadblocks in the NFC, the 49ers, the Panthers and last night's roadkill, the Saints, have all already played Seattle. And the Hawks are 3-0, with two of the wins coming in CenturyLink. That's important. Because last night's win basically assured the NFC playoffs will go through Seattle. Sure, the Hawks could go 1-3 in their final four games and either Carolina or New Orleans could post a 4-0 record – they play each other twice, so that might be tough – and catch Seattle, but I doubt it. Not if the Seahawks keep playing like they did last night. What really amazed me the most from last night was what the Hawks couldn't do. They couldn't run the ball as they usually do, with the Saints loading the box to stop Marshawn Lynch. There was no way there was going to be another Beastquake. But it didn't matter. Take away Seattle's offensive strength and that just forces Russell Wilson to step forward. He did. Yes, he did. Wilson ran the ball efficiently. He threw the ball effectively. He called the right plays, he tossed the ball away when needed and he made zero mistakes. His Grade A performance led the offense to more than enough points. Then again, a field goal would have done it. That's how dominant the defense was against the NFL's second-most proficient offense. Get this: Early in the third quarter, the Saints had possessed the ball six times (not counting the possession to end the first half). In four of them they went three-and-out. In one of them they marched the length of the field and scored. In one the Hawks picked Drew Brees' fumble out of the air and Michael Bennett took it back for a touchdown. Think of it. The Seattle defense scored as many points when the Saints had the ball as New Orleans did. Then think of this. The Saints had 103 of their 188 total yards in garbage time. Yep, that was a butt-kicking of the first magnitude. And you didn't need a seismograph to measure it.
• WSU: The Monday of championship week is usually pretty quiet around the Pac-12. That's why the conference uses that day to announce its all-conference selections. (Deone Bucannon was the lone WSU representative on the first team; Jacob Thorpe has that information in a story and a blog post.) But the stars were dimmed a bit yesterday by some other news. USC picked a football coach. And the Trojans stole Washington's coach, what we thought would happen the day Pat Haden fired Lane Kiffin. Steve Sarkisian is going back to Los Angeles, trading his purple for cardinal and gold. But that's not all. That domino tipped over and now has another teetering. Will Jim Mora Jr. decide the time is finally right and take the Washington job? Remember, when he said it was his dream job a few years ago, it cost him the Atlanta Falcons coaching position. Since then he's said he was only joking oh so many years ago, but do you believe him? I don't. There is something about your alma mater. It gets into your blood. If UW offers Mora the job this time, I think he'll take it. Mora's also said the time wasn't right when asked about other chances at the Washington position. Since then I'm sure he's learned the time is rarely right. Heck, it probably isn't the right time to leave UCLA now. But if he doesn't, he may never get this opportunity again. … Former WSU running back (and running back coach) Steve Broussard was fired yesterday at UCLA. No reason was given. … Jacob sat down with WSU athletic director Bill Moos yesterday – he was making the rounds when not out feeding his cattle – and posted this Q&A about the bowl picture. By the way, others are worried about being left out of the bowl picture as well. … Jacob also has today's links in this morning's post.
• Gonzaga: The women continued to clamp down on the defensive end, blowing out Fairfield, 82-42. … Jim Meehan returned to the blog yesterday morning with his day-after post on Coppin State. … The Zags' loss in Maui cost them eight spots in the AP poll. … BYU hosts Texas State tonight.
• EWU: South Dakota State has made big strides in FCS football recently, but a win Saturday at Eastern would be their biggest leap. Jim Allen has more on the Eagles' opponent in the playoffs' second round. … Jim also has links on the blog this morning.
• Idaho: A couple of Vandals earned honors this week. Josh Wright tells us who in this blog post.
• Preps: It's time to preview the upcoming boys basketball season and Greg Lee does just that. He has this story on the GSL favorites, the Central Valley Bears, and league glances for the GSL, GNL, Northeast A and Northeast 2B.
• Seahawks: Where to start? With the Hawks' Super Bowl prospects? With their dominance of the Saints, who morphed back into the Aints of old? Or with the stellar play of Russell Wilson, who is now becoming the darling of the national media? But does it really matter? When the game was over, it was pretty obvious who the better team was – and which team was dominant in the NFC. The 34-7 score says it all. … The players had a lot to talk about after the game and they did, some into the ESPN cameras as they left the field. … Pete Carroll had a lot to say afterward as well. And it was, surprise, positive. … Percy Harvin is still trying to get healthy. … Uh oh. Next Sunday the Hawks play at San Francisco. The 49ers have something to prove.
• Mariners: You were waiting for that big off-season move, weren't you? It's done. Willie Bloomquist will be back in an M's uniform. Now we can relax. The West is won.
• Sounders: Portland's Caleb Porter was named MLS coach of the year. He deserved it.
• That's it for this morning. I hope you didn't stay out too late celebrating the Hawks win. It is a workday after all. But it could be worse. You could live in the Eastern time zone. Until later …