RENTON, Wash. – Lawyer Milloy knew what was coming this week. All the Seahawks did.
So before the question was even all the way out of the interviewer’s mouth, the veteran safety had already launched into an answer he was ready to give to any and all critics of his team and the NFC West, which today will produce a division champion with a 7-9 record if Seattle wins, or a slightly more respectable 8-8 record should St. Louis prove victorious.
“This game is exciting, man,” Milloy said. “(Shoot), what else you want? End of the year, last game of the season, playing for a championship, that’s it. No matter how you write it up, that’s what it is.
“That’s why you play the game as a player. This game is it. … We can’t worry about (records), we’re in a championship game, period, point blank.”
Well, Lawyer, since you asked, what the rest of country wants is a playoff team with a winning record, which is why, depending on people’s outlook, today’s game to crown an NFC West champion constitutes either tragedy or comedy. Those with a sense of humor are spending the week making fun of the NFC West, which may be the worst division in the league’s history, while those less inclined to find humor in the absurd are screaming about what an injustice all of this is.
How, they demand to know, can a 7-9 team get a spot in the playoffs, let alone get to host a game?
But no matter how strange this situation is, no one in the Seahawks’ locker room is any less excited about their chance to win the division just because of the tiny little detail that they have only won six games this season.
“Why?” receiver Mike Williams said. “(Shoot), as bad as the records are in this division, that’s obvious, none of that will matter after this week whether it’s for us or St. Louis, because all the records will go back to zero-zero, and it won’t matter how many games a team won in the regular season. … Everyone’s opinion about the NFC West, that’s their opinion, and good for them. We’ll just try to take care of business.”
But while the Seahawks and Rams head into tonight’s game with heads held high, well aware of what’s at stake, much of the rest of the country is opting to point and laugh.
Because this is the only game this weekend with such clear-cut playoff implications, it was flexed into the Sunday night spot, meaning a huge audience, a large portion of which will be mocking the game more than enjoying it. Over the course of the week, a number of national writers, faces we haven’t seen since Pete Carroll was a big story in training camp, stopped by the team’s headquarters and, well, let’s just say they weren’t here about Charlie Whitehurst.
But no matter how many times they are asked whether they are deserving of a playoff spot, the Seahawks maintain that, no matter their record, they will be thrilled if they can pull out a victory tonight.
“We’re not worried about what the outsiders say,” running back Justin Forsett said. “We’re trying to get there, and once we get there anything is possible.”
The fact is that either Seattle or St. Louis will make the playoffs, which is quite an accomplishment given where the teams have been in recent years. Seattle won nine games over the previous two seasons, while the Rams were much worse, winning just six times over the previous three years. On Oct. 3, when the Rams trounced the Seahawks to force a three-way tie for first place in the division at 2-2, it was half-jokingly suggested that this season-ending game between St. Louis and Seattle could decide the division. Despite both teams’ struggles along the way – the Rams have been outscored this season by 29 points, while the Seahawks have been outscored by a whopping 107 points, a point differential better than only four last-place teams – tonight’s game indeed will determine the NFC West champion.
And no matter what anyone thinks of that scenario, it sits just fine with the Seahawks.
“You go through all season, you go through training camp trying to get to the playoffs, and no matter what the record is, if you’re in the playoffs, you’re in the playoffs,” center Chris Spencer said. “So all that’s being mentioned about it. … The rules are the rules, so for us, we’re happy to have the opportunity to be able to fight to get into it.”