A GRIP ON SPORTS
The word "why" was uttered a lot around the Grippi household yesterday. There were the "whys" when the Hawks eschewed an early field goal and tried fullback Michael Robinson on a fourth-and-1 at the goal line. There was a "why" followed by a "Marshawn" when he fumbled. The "why" that came out when Russell Wilson took a sack near the end of the first half, pushing the Hawks out of field goal range. And then there were a lot of "whys" followed by "god" all afternoon after Atlanta marched down the field in about two seconds and kicked the game-winning – and Seahawk-season-ending – field goal. Read on.
• I had to go to the store in the afternoon yesterday. In the parking lot I ran into the mother of two boys I once coached. A woman who is always smiling. She asked me how I was doing. I mumbled something about not all that well. "Why," she asked. The answer was simple. "The football game." She frowned. "Wasn't that awful," she said and all I could do was shake my head yes. She understood. Everyone in Albertson's understood – except the woman in front of me in line who forgot her coupons until after the transaction was final and still got to use them. I wonder if "the-Seahawks-lost-a-playoff-game-in-the-final-seconds" defense has ever been used in a criminal trial? But I digress. I'm still trying to figure out if the circumstances surrounding yesterday's defeat were actually worse, mentally, than if the Hawks had just meekly laid down in the second half. After 18 hours of contemplation (broken up by six hours of tossing-and-turning sleep), the final answer is no. The way Seattle played in the second half is something to build upon. A nugget of hope to carry Hawk fans through until next season's camp opens in the summer. A vision of competence to get us through the Mariner season. What made up my mind? Something I read on Twitter, the bible of the modern age. It concerned Russell Wilson. Basically, the gist of the 140 characters was every team in the NFL needs a franchise quarterback. They are hard to find. The Seahawks have been looking for years. They have now found him. The rest is easy. Well, easy might not be the right term – easier may be better – but the sentiment is correct. Having a franchise quarterback is the cornerstone of success in today's NFL (see Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Ben whatever-his-name-is). The Hawks have never really had that guy. Now it sure looks as if they do. The second half showed that. The game had to be on his shoulders and he carried the burden with ease. His final stat line looked like something Brady would post: 24 of 36 for 385 yards passing, two touchdowns and one pick. Then there is the team-high 60 yards rushing on seven carries. But most importantly, a near-perfect 61-yard drive in the final 3 minutes to take a 28-27 lead with 31 seconds left. Leadership is a hard thing to quantify but it sure seems as if Wilson has what it takes to lead this team for the next decade or so. And that is the foundation of hope – the only word that trumps "why" right now.
• Washington State: Not a lot in Pullman after Christian's Caple's travel day, but he does have a morning post. The Cougars face a must-win week in basketball as they are back at home with Utah and Colorado coming in. ... The Cougar women lost to USC yesterday when a fouled was called in the waning seconds as two players were chasing a loose ball. Wait there is more. The foul was called on a play at halfcourt with less than a second left. Ya, that happens a lot. ... Who are the favorites in the Pac-12 football races next season? Here is one man's choices. ... California ended Stanford's 81-game Pac-12 Conference winning streak yesterday.
• EWU: There is a Big Sky game tonight and it's in Pocatello. It should be a rout.
• Chiefs: Believe it or not, but Seattle lost again on Sunday. That's 14 consecutive times if anyone is counting.
• Seahawks: The hope theme runs through Jerry Brewer's and Steve Kelley's columns today even after heartbreaking nature of the defeat. We put up a poll question yesterday afternoon with some of the reasons behind the defeat and most of you are putting the blame on the defense. Atlanta did run right through them much of the game Sunday – Pete Carroll blamed it mainly on a bad-tackling day – and that wasn't good. But one option I didn't put in the poll, karma or kismet or "the-Falcons-were-due," might have received some consideration as well. After all, even a snake-bit franchise can't lose them all, can they?
• How did I get out of my post-game funk yesterday? I am sorry to say I resorted to products advertised almost constantly during games. A few cold beverages in the comfort of my living room, a couple of episodes of Cheers from Netflix on the iPad and I was feeling a bit better. A bit. Until later ...