A GRIP ON SPORTS • Back in the day, the nuns at St. Rita’s elementary taught us a song in unity with California’s striking farm workers. We learned the lyrics in Spanish and the tune has stuck with us since the 1960s. It was running around my head late last night as the Seahawks faced a crucial goal-line stand. Read on.
• “Nosotros venceremos, nosotros venceremos …” Yep, we shall overcome. At least the Seahawks shall. Against the Patriots. In Foxboro, Mass. When everything seemed to be against them.
Of course, Pete Carroll saw it that way.
“Great team,” he told reporters afterward. “They have everything going for them – the best quarterback that’s ever played. Best coach that’s ever coached. You can’t get any better than that. We had a nice little night against all that.”
And it all came down to a fourth-down goal-line stand from the 1-yard line. How ironic. Maybe that’s why Carroll sent out 12 Seahawks after a timeout following third down. To make the final play occur from the 1 instead of the 2.
Former UW quarterback Brock Huard tweeted out he thought, in the back of his head, the penalty, which seemed so stupid at the time, might have been on purpose just to limit the Patriots’ playbook a bit. If that’s the case, football is way more complicated than I thought.
My conspiracy theory is a bit more outlandish. Carroll was hoping to do exactly what the Pats did in the Super Bowl. Win by winning the final yard. If so, it worked.
Rob Gronkowski split out wide. Kam Chancellor, playing his first game in a month, split out with him. Tom Brady took the snap. Gronk immediately sought out Chancellor and made contact. The ball was already in the air. Chancellor took the blow and held on. Gronkowski tried to get away, stumbled and the ball sailed long. Game over.
On the wall behind the endzone was a sign – visible on replay as the ball sailed away harmlessly – making fun of the Hawks’ decision not to give the ball to Marshawn Lynch at the end of the Super Bowl. Now that’s irony.
But decisions always have to be made in the heat of the moment. Some work. Some don't. If more work than not, you are a genius.
With a little more than 2 minutes left last night, the Hawks scored to go up seven. Carroll didn’t hesitate. He went for two. America gasped. The “sheet” that every coach is supposed to use says kick the extra point, make New England convert a two-pointer to tie - if it scored a touchdown.
Mr. Positive was having none of that. He was trying to win the game right there. Success on the attempt would have given Seattle a two-score lead. Game over. Failure? The lead is still seven.
The Hawks failed. Then. Not later. Nope. At the 1-yard line they sang a different tune. Another tune the nuns taught us way back when.
“No, no, no nos moverán. No, no, no nos moverán. Como un árbol firme junto al río, no, no nos moverán.”
• There’s a big early season matchup in the Kennel late tonight, one featuring differing philosophies, especially on the defensive end.
San Diego State comes to town with a tradition of having one of the stingiest defenses in the nation under veteran coach Steve Fisher (pictured). The Aztecs pressure the ball relentlessly, attempting to deny the offense its preferred paths.
Gonzaga’s defense has evolved and currently is more Pack-like in its man principles. If that sounds familiar, it should, as the Pack defense was invented by former WSU coach Dick Bennett and is still a hallmark of son Tony’s Virginia squads. The defense isn’t as pressure-filled, relying on a group mentality denying the offense drives to the rim.
Both can be extremely effective if played correctly. Both also can be exploited. The test tonight, as it every night, is to see which team plays its way better.
WSU: The win over California proved expensive for the 20th-ranked Cougars as it cost them receiver River Cracraft. The senior was sandwiched by two Cal defenders in the third quarter and, as Jacob Thorpe reports, tore a ligament in his left knee. It didn’t look that bad Saturday night as Cracraft was able to limp off, went through an examination on the sidelines, then limped without aid to the lockerroom. He did, however, stop before entering the tunnel, turn around and take a long look at Martin Stadium. Maybe he knew it would be his last in a Cougar uniform. … WSU will play a day game in Boulder on Saturday. Jacob has the story. … The volleyball and women’s basketball teams picked up wins yesterday. … Stefanie Loh has the Cracraft news as well. … The Buffaloes have no margin of error if they want to win the South. They probably can’t lose any of their final two games.
Elsewhere in Pac-12 football, the season isn’t over for Washington as far as the playoffs are concerned. … USC and UCLA will meet Saturday with bragging rights on the line – and a chance for the Bruins to ruin USC’s season. … Utah has to win out, starting with still-reeling Oregon at home Saturday, to win the South. … The Big Game is big only to Stanford and California. … Washington will try to bounce back against Arizona State. … Arizona travels to Oregon State hoping to win a Pac-12 game. … We are going to pass along one basketball game from yesterday because the result, Yale going into Hec Ed and winning by eight, seems so surprising.
Gonzaga: Jim Meehan has an advance of tonight’s game at McCarthey. It should be packed and loud, mainly because it always is. But the ESPN audience attracts the best efforts of the Kennel Club, as Michael Gulledge explains. … There is a history between the schools, though not a deep one. … We'll be back tonight with thoughts after the game. … The women defeated UC Irvine - I was there supporting my alma mater – yesterday in McCarthey. We have Colin Mulvany's photos from the game but was unable to find Jim Allen's story.
Chiefs: It should be another interesting week in the WHL.
Seahawks: There were so many stories coming out of Foxboro – we focused on the goal-line stand above – that it’s hard to choose. How about we start with Russell Wilson’s play? … Or should we have focused on rookie running back C.J. Prosise, who made a huge difference? … The Hawks proved they are one of the NFL’s best again. … The final play? Seattle practiced it. In fact it was the final play of Saturday’s practice.
• Those protest songs the nuns taught us good Catholic kids back in the tumultuous 1960s? The have stuck with me ever since. In tough times, they pop back into my head and serve as a mantra, though that word, mantra, would probably have gotten me ruler-slapped if I used it back then. It sounds a bit too Eastern-religion-like for my Irish Catholic nuns. Until later …
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