A GRIP ON SPORTS
Usually the typical Northwest sports fan has a Chicken Little quality to him or her. You know, when something bad happens, the sky is falling. Heck, even when something good happens, they usually expect the other shoe to hit them on the head. But following yesterday's loss in San Francisco, it doesn’t feel that way with Seahawk fans. The defeat didn't seem to set off a tidal wave of worry. Read on.
• Is that a good thing or just denial? You decide. For me, it seems pretty darn level-headed. Yes, San Francisco won. No denying that. But, as I wrote yesterday, I expected it. The 49ers were backed into Yosemite Valley, Half Dome against their posterior. They had to win. They were playing at home, where weird things happen to road teams in the NFL. (They did. I kept track. I wrote down nine calls or non-calls that probably would not or would have been called in Seattle. That's more than enough to account for a two-point margin.) The 49ers had an extra day to prepare. And yet, with all that was on the line for San Francisco – and how little this game really mattered to the Hawks – the 49ers had to rally, got one big play (and one smart lay down by Frank Gore) and barely got the win. On this day, the team that played better, won. But the better team didn't. The Niners are solid. They play hard. They are physical. But the Seahawks are the better team. And, after Sunday's game in New Jersey – isn't it nice the Hawks get to play a mid-December game at the Super Bowl site? How thoughtful of the NFL – the 49ers and anyone else with NFC title dreams will have to deal with playing in Seattle in front of the 12th man. That's a daunting task. And one I don't believe either the 49ers or the Saints or the Panthers or the Eagles are up to.
• One down note coming from Sunday was K.J. Wright's broken foot. The outside linebacker is a key cog in the Hawks defense – is there a chance Gore's game-deciding run would have been snuffed earlier if Wright were on the field? Sure – and will be missed over the next few weeks. The key for Seattle is Wright returns in time for a possible playoff game with New Orleans. He is their main weapon in the battle to contain tight end Jimmy Graham.
• WSU: I must admit. I thought about leading today with Washington State's bowl bid. After all, it has been 10 years since it's happened. But even the Cougars' accomplishment – one we guaranteed after they got to six wins – has to take a backseat to the Super Bowl-bound Seahawks. Sorry. Anyhow, I have my notes in front of me from the first game of the season (I save everything; some day I will be on that hoarders show), a 31-24 loss to Auburn. Yes, the same Auburn team that is playing in the BCS Championship game. I see the Cougars' penultimate drive, when they started at their 30 and got all the way down to the Auburn 8. A wheel route in the right side of the end zone was intercepted, killing an 11-play, 62-yard, 4-minute, 21-second drive. But the defense got the ball back, forcing a Tre Mason fumble that Deone Bucannon recovered. This time, despite a 13-yard run on a fourth-and-5, the Cougars stalled and turned it over on downs. That was how close they were to defeating quite possibly the best team in the country at their place. Of course, if WSU had won, I'm guessing Auburn would have finished 6-6 and no one would think the win was a big deal. ... OK, back to reality. The Cougars are headed to the New Mexico Bowl, which will be held in less than two weeks. When in Albuquerque, don't miss the Breaking Bad tour. Free meth! Just kidding, but the tour is a real tourist attraction. Heck, you can visit Walter's grave. The Cougars, however, are just worried about football and Colorado State. Jacob Thorpe has all the information in this story and a couple of blog posts from yesterday. He also has a post this morning with links. ... ESPN.com's Pac-12 blog has a summary of the New Mexico Bowl along with all the conference's bowl games. ... The Denver Post covers Colorado State's side of things.
• Gonzaga: The women are on a Big Ten road trip and they started it with a 59-58 victory over Ohio State on Shaniqua Nilles' game-winning jumper at the buzzer. ... Jim Meehan was back on the blog yesterday with his day-after post on the New Mexico State win.
• EWU: St. Mary's proved to be too much for the Eagles last night in Moraga, winning 93-65, Eastern largest margin of defeat this season. ... There was a wrinkle thrown into the FCS playoffs this weekend, when top-ranked North Dakota State coach Craig Bohl accepted the Wyoming job. Bohl will coach NDSU through the playoffs but that has to affect his team in some way, doesn't it?
• Chiefs: Portland ended its road trip with a loss in Calgary.
• Seahawks: There is a lot to pass along, from what coach Pete Carroll, Russell Wilson and the rest of the Hawks had to say to thoughts about the game from a San Francisco perspective. Surprisingly, some folks in the Bay Area see yesterday's 19-16 win as a blip on the Hawks radar as we do. ... The Seattle defense, stout all game, had one breakdown – or was it just a great offensive play? – and it cost them. ... The 49ers kicker came through multiple times. ... Really, it was just a great game, a bruising game that was decided by a couple plays. Exactly what you want in the NFL.
• Mariners: From the high of the Robinson Cano news to the low of the revelation of the front-office dysfunction, all within 48 hours. Such is the life of a Mariner fan. ... The winter meetings are at DisneyWorld and our friend Ryan Divish will be there. I hope he has time to take a tour of Epcot.
• By the way, I didn't get a Christmas tree yesterday. On the way home following a morning movie – OK, I let Kim pick and we watched "Catching Fire" or whatever it is called – I drove past our favorite lot. I offered to stop but Kim basically said no way. She wanted to get home for the Hawks game. Did I marry well, or what? Until later ...