Blanchette: A second half well worth seeing
SEATTLE – Take heart, KAYU viewer.
Sure, you got “Heidi-ed” out of seeing that ballsy fourth-down touchdown pass. While you cussed at the black TV screen and strafed the station’s switchboard, your Seattle Seahawks heroes strip-sacked the quarterback. So steamed were you about the lost broadcast signal during The Most Important Thing That Ever Happened in This World that when the picture returned, your head was probably cocked back at 90 degrees to allow for another proper medicinal pull on that bottle of Jack and you missed the interception. The first interception, that is.
But you saw The Interception, right?
The one that set off the delirium among 68,000-odd Seahawks fans at CenturyLink field – you drank in that one.
You saw Richard Sherman leap and tip the ball with his left hand into the welcoming mitts of Malcolm Smith. You saw Sherm lose it and unleash a full-facial taunt on Michael Crabtree, a choke gesture at Colin Kaepernick and a bull-goose rant into the microphone that had Fox’s Erin Andrews quaking in her knee-high boots.
Maybe you even saw the stuff that won’t last in Viral World for the next forever.
Jermaine Kearse and Golden Tate circling the Clink with the giant “12” flag. Breno Giacomini doing 318 pounds worth of jig to the delight of the 12th Man regulars ringing the south end zone. Michael Robinson walking slowly toward the tunnel, tears – the good kind – streaming down his cheeks.
Or maybe you were in your own little joy bubble by then, as enraptured by the Seahawks’ return to the Super Bowl on the strength of their 23-17 NFC championship game victory over the San Francisco 49ers as if you’d made the winning play yourself.
“They just freaking deserve it,” coach Pete Carroll said of his beloved “12s” – not excluding the ones raising a ruckus in front of the TV. “They’re the best.”
We’ll assume the feeling is mutual.
Whatever you recall from the party in 2006 when the Seahawks punched their ticket to the franchise’s first Super Bowl, you’ll know that one was about undoing history. The years of Gelbaughs and McGwires at quarterback, the Boz being Bo Jackson’s footwipe, Ken Behring backing up the moving vans at team headquarters. That was 30 years of frustration, and the fact that the Seahawks had that NFC championship game won in the first quarter allowed for a proper exorcism.
This one was about the moment – a sensational game, defeating a fierce and accomplished rival, seizing the day, pulling on that champion’s shirt.
“It’s comfortable,” receiver Doug Baldwin acknowledged. “I think it’s 100 percent cotton.”
OK, point taken. No sense being overwrought.
But there is a sense that the 12s of the Northwest have taken a shine to these Seahawks – their mien and manner – in a way wholly separate from their allegiance to the 2005 team, and that it was all encapsulated in that magical second half.
Marshawn Lynch’s 40-yard touchdown rumble – “Beast Quake III” (are there going to be as many of these as “Rocky” movies?). The bold defensive strokes – the interceptions, Cliff Avril’s strip of Kaepernick, Chancellor blowing up Vernon Davis. And, especially, the fourth-down dagger.
Oh, right. You didn’t see it.
Well, it came just two plays into the fourth quarter, Seattle fourth-and-7 at the San Francisco 35-yard line. The momentum had been stalled by an intentional grounding call against quarterback Russell Wilson, who wasn’t having much of a day – starting with his fumble on Seattle’s first snap of the day. Carroll sent Steven Hauschka out to kick a 53-yard field goal and then thought better of it, with Wilson begging him to go for it.
“Hey, listen,” Wilson told his receivers in the huddle. “We’re going to go double count right there, hopefully they go offsides. If they go offsides, take a shot down the field because it’s a free play.”
The Niners jumped. Kearse bolted for the end zone and Wilson put it just out of reach of defender Carlos Rogers.
“I wasn’t surprised at all,” Robinson said. “That’s Pete. For real. Are you surprised to shoot basketballs before meetings? I’m not surprised about a fourth-down call. As a head coach, you have to trust in your players. He put his trust in us and guys went out and performed.”
That the Seahawks blew three subsequent chances to put the Niners away only added to the angsty fun – well, angst in the stands and at home, maybe.
“Something was just different on the sidelines,” Robinson said. “You just kind of knew it was going to go our way. At the end of the day, you just felt a calm, a peace.”
Right. With the stadium shaking. And the switchboard back in Spokane lighting up.
“Don’t call,” was the message on KAYU’s air when the picture went poof, “we know there is a problem.”
Surely the Niners must have known it, too.