September 5, 2014 in Sports

Hawks complete euphoric checklist

By The Spokesman-Review

SEATTLE – World championship banner? Check.

Newly minted Hall of Famer? Check.

Holdover delirium? Check.

Worthless workforce today? Checked out.

Cheeseheads? Checkmated.

If only Richard Sherman had verbally vomited all over some sideline model at game’s end and given the nation something to tut-tut about for the next week, the night of all nights at CenturyLink Field would have been complete.

Seven months after their XXXL-sized victory in Super Bowl XLVIII and a parade that’s still has downtown gridlocked, the Seattle Seahawks came out for one more bow Thursday night and turned it into a preamble for further domination.

No one’s counting Lombardi trophies until they’re forged, but the 36-16 bludgeoning of the Green Bay Packers – likely the second-best team in the National Football Conference this season – isn’t going to do anything to quiet talk of a repeat, or a threepeat.

Or a spreepeat.

Sure, it’s probably safer to put your money on the NFL field against the Seahawks – history says so. But are you going to believe the odds or the visceral evidence?

“We didn’t have much belief in the whole Super Bowl hangover thing,” said Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson. “We’re just trying to play and enjoy the game for what it is.”

And what it is right now – or seems to be – is almost too easy.

Naturally, that’s just what the 12th Man had in mind.

A regular-season record 68,424 squeezed into the Clink for the singular experience of seeing that banner unfurled, but also to relive the party only a select few got to enjoy in person last February. And that doesn’t include those without tickets who just blitzed downtown for a brush with giddiness.

Shortly before kickoff, the last, best parking slots off First Avenue were going for $140. “Thunderstruck” and other anthems blasted out of sound systems cranked up to – what else? – 12. Fans streamed to the stadium in their finest replica jerseys – not just the 12s, but Lynch 24s and Wilson 3s and vintage Hasselbecks and even a not-so-vintage Bosworth. Only the lame showed up in T-shirts.

And when a rental car ferrying Packers fans toward the parking garage tried to turn onto Edgar Martinez Drive, a sea of pedestrians quickly stopped it dead and taunted, “We’ve got you surrounded.”

A few hours later, their team did the same to the Packers.

A supposedly retooled Green Bay defense surrendered just short of 400 yards, and about any real estate Marshawn Lynch decided that he wanted. Rookie of the year running back Eddie Lacy wound up looking like the newbie driver in a demolition derby. Aaron Rodgers, part of the NFL’s current Mount Rushmore of quarterbacks, tried to beat the league’s best defense without ever using the third of the field Sherman patrolled.

That’s either a Hall-of-Fame show of respect or a shameful lack of nerve.

Technically, it was only a 10-point game at the time, but the end came early for the Packers – and they knew it by electing to go for it on fourth-and-5 in Seattle territory midway through the third quarter. Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy thought he got squeezed by the clock – he wanted a reset – but instead Rodgers got squeezed by Cliff Avril, and that was that.

The next time he got the ball, Rodgers was strip-sacked for a safety by Michael Bennett, and a few 12s started checking out February flights to Phoenix.

“I wanted to get to Aaron Rodgers so bad,” said Bennett. “He’s one of those guys who talks so much you just want to get him.”

More than bask in the glow of his team’s greatness, Bennett was one of the few Seahawks who seemed to prefer dissecting the Packers in the postmortem as they had on the field. A sampling, starting with his take on backup tackle Derek Sherrod:

• “I knew he was in trouble when I saw him out there.”

• “I saw supposedly some of the best players in the league not want to tackle Marshawn Lynch … whiff on tackles that should have been 2-yard gains.”

• “Lacy? He had 12 carries for 40 yards (actually 34). I could do that.”

The Hawks were far from perfect – a fumbled punt, a shoulda-been pick of a Wilson pass and a 44-yard pass interference penalty helped keep things close for a half. But if anything they have a greater margin of error – as long as they keep Percy Harvin whole. After a 2013 cameo, his multi-dimensional running-catching-returning was a revelation.

Worth the price of admission. If not a $140 parking space.

“You saw how dynamic a player he is,” said tight end Zach Miller. “He’s so fast and he can run you over, too. Not many guys like him in this league.”

Not many teams like this one, if any. Check it out.

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