September 15, 2013 in Sports

Blanchette: Victory worth raising one eyebrow

John Blanchette Correspondent
 
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Spokesman-Review corresponding sports columnist John Blanchette.
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SEATTLE – Until they get strains of marijuana named for them as the brothers Manning have – thanks to a Denver dispensary that offers a discount to customers wearing Peyton’s No. 18 on game day – Russell Wilson and Colin Kaepernick will occupy the JV marquee for NFL quarterbacks.

Heck, they were virtual afterthoughts in the coastal episode of “Breaking Bad” on Sunday night.

Still, it looks as if Kaepnernick must shave the eyebrow. A bet – even one made tongue-in-cheek in a video-game commercial – is a bet. Wilson won theirs.

And for starting pitchers in the NFL, as opposed to Major League Baseball, the win is not a discredited statistic.

How Wilson’s Seattle Seahawks and Kaepernick’s San Francisco 49ers managed to fall  into the Game of the Century just two weeks into the 2013 season is a triumph of hype over calendrical physics. But at least it’s over and the entire Northwest can heave a sigh of relief, for any number of reasons:

Seattle’s prideful 12th Man can nurse its larynx at work today, secure with the knowledge that the Guinness records folks – in the least necessary sideshow in NFL history – have affirmed CenturyLink as the loudest stadium in the world.

But then, they could have done that at a Sounders game.

Only kidding.

“What an amazing night for the 12th Man,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. “I’ve been coaching for a long time, and back at UOP (where he played college ball) it didn’t sound like that.”

No one was hit by lightning, unless you count the many fans who swelled the beer lines during the 60-minute delay that took both teams off the field. The Seahawks may indeed ask to include a first-half cocktail hour in all future home games.

Whoever had kidnapped Wilson during the first half returned him, for no apparent ransom and after what seems to have been a pep talk.

And now, on to the Super Bowl, right?

That would be quite the coup for the Seahawks, getting there with a 2-0 record.

But at least what eventually turned into a 29-3 romp over the 49ers was a firm statement of who’s who in the NFC West because … wait, what? The Seahawks blew them out even worse last November? And it was the Niners who wound up in the Super Bowl?

Well, OK. No grand meanings then. Just some satisfying neener-neeners for the home team, and more fodder for Niners coach Jim Harbaugh’s smug outrage at almost everything.

If anything of note was gleaned from four hours and 15 minutes of Mother Nature-interrupted football, it’s that young-gun quarterbacks have an adversity curve.

Wilson managed to play through his. Kaepernick, not so much.

He had four of the Niners’ five turnovers, NFL glory he didn’t envision as a youth playing Madden at Camp Winnipesaukee. Or even last year, when he threw just three interceptions in the regular season.

Not that the pratfall was all his doing. After getting no push early, the Seahawks rush harried him relentlessly. One of his favorite targets, Anquan Boldin, couldn’t get off the line of scrimmage without a TSA patdown from Richard Sherman, and wound up with one meaningless 7-yard catch.

“I asked Coach for the challenge,” Sherman said. “A lot of things were said this week. He had a great game last week – 200 yards – and there was a lot of talk.”

Indeed, for all the hiccups and stalls the Seahawks offense endured, Carroll noted, “The defense was so on that it didn’t matter.”

That included Wilson misfiring on eight of his first nine passes, and chugging into intermission with a quarterback rating of 7.5 – respectable on the Richter scale, but not for an NFL chucker.

“Obviously, you want to be 9 for 9,” Wilson said, “but playing one pitch at a time gives you a chance.

“One thing we did, once that lightning strike hit and we were in the locker room for an hour, we revamped. I even took a shower, restarted my mind and thought, ‘It’s a new game.’”

But the game-turning play came shortly after the real halftime. Wilson improvised with Doug Baldwin when the pocket collapsed on third-and-8 and came up with a 51-yard completion that would eventually result in the game’s first touchdown.

Yes, it wouldn’t have happened if San Francisco linebacker Ahmad Brooks doesn’t face-mask Wilson on a red-zone sack, but that was just another measure of the visitors’ meltdown: 121 yards in penalties.

Just one of the many things the 49ers will stew on between now and the rematch in three months. Mostly they’ll stew on 71-16 the combined score of the last two meetings.

“How much of that is fabricated, and how much is real?” Sherman said. “That’s real.”

Real enough. But in September, not necessarily relevant to the big doin’s that come after December.


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