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Sports >  Seattle Mariners

Grip on Sports: Seahawks have given us the highest of highs and some terrible lows. What will happen this week?

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (3) runs the ball into the end zone as Atlanta Falcons outside linebacker Sean Weatherspoon (56) looks on during the second half of an NFC divisional playoff NFL football game Sunday, Jan. 13, 2013, in Atlanta.  (Associated Press)
Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (3) runs the ball into the end zone as Atlanta Falcons outside linebacker Sean Weatherspoon (56) looks on during the second half of an NFC divisional playoff NFL football game Sunday, Jan. 13, 2013, in Atlanta. (Associated Press)

A GRIP ON SPORTS • There is a certain rhythm to the NFL season. Week by week, the better teams rise to the top until the playoff participants are decided. Then the weak begin to be culled from the herd. Last weekend, four pretenders were jettisoned. Four more will be thrown out this week. Finally, there will be one. The champion. The survivor. Read on.

••••••••••

• The Seahawks have been that team just once. We all remember it. Back in 2013, or ’14 or sometime. It seems like forever ago. The next year’s last-minute loss ensured that. Instead of celebrating two consecutive championships – with the second one over Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and the Patriots to boot – Hawks’ fan were thrown in a pit of despair.

And last season’s NFC divisional round loss to Carolina didn’t help, especially the ugly first half.

So here we are, back again. In a sense, we are back at were it began. If, of course, you believe the team’s success began with Russell Wilson’s arrival.

It was Wilson’s rookie season, 2012, when the Hawks seemed to hit their stride. Pete Carroll and John Schneider were building something special before then, especially on defense, but knew the obvious: To win in the National Football League, you must have an elite quarterback. In Wilson, the third-round draft choice, they stumbled upon the key piece.

So the 2012 team rolled into Atlanta for the divisional round game. And came up two points short.

Wilson was on point, throwing for 385 yards and running for another 60 more.

But the defense wasn’t perfect. Good, yes. Maybe even great. But not perfect. The Falcons went the length of the field in about 20 seconds, kicked a game-winning field goal and won, 30-28.

Seattle trailed 27-7 entering the fourth quarter. Wilson led them on three touchdown drives. The defense got stops. But not the final one.

It was crushing. And yet it laid the foundation for the next season. The Hawks made sure they weren’t crushed again and did the crushing in the Super Bowl, to the tune of 43-8.

A playoff low followed by the ultimate high.

But the NFL being what it is, the next year ended on the ultimate low.

And the last two seasons? Never too high or too low, really. Just sort of mediocre. Unless …

Unless the Hawks find a way to win Saturday. To do something that up-and-coming 2012 team couldn’t. Win in Atlanta.

This team isn’t up-and-coming. Marshawn Lynch is gone. The defensive stars are aging. Wilson is a beat-up veteran. The offensive line is showing the years of being the team’s debit card.

The question is simple. Is the account empty or do the Hawks have enough left to charge toward one last championship run?

•••

Gonzaga: The Bulldogs have a history of developing outstanding big men, most of whom spend their freshmen year learning from upperclassmen. Jim Meehan has a story today on Zach Collins, who is following the same path albeit with more success than many of his predecessors. … Jim also has his three in the key feature with Collins.

WSU: The Cougars’ success on the women’s basketball front this season has been keyed by the play of a freshman guard. Jim Allen’s notebook introduces us to Chanelle Molina (pictured). … Washington will have to survive a tough stretch without big Malik Dime. … Oregon State has been dealing with a tough stretch without Tres Tinkle but may get him back soon. … Arizona has been doing more than survive despite its injuries, which is a tribute to the players and coach Sean Miller. … Utah is looking for a big weekend, which begins Thursday when it hosts USC. … California is hoping to make a mark this weekend as well. … Bryce Alford is making his mark in the UCLA record books. … In football, the season is offer but everyone is already looking toward the fall. What can the Huskies learn from Clemson’s run? … Colorado has some holes to fill. … Oregon has one it didn’t think it would have. … There is no way Chip Kelly should take the California job.

Chiefs: With the trade deadline looming, Spokane made a deal.

Preps: As per usual on a Tuesday night this time of year, there were multiple high school basketball games on tap. We can offer roundups from the GSL in boys and girls action – along with Jesse Tinsley’s photo report from Central Valley’s overtime win over Ferris. And there are roundups from girls and boys action around the area. … After a half-season, Lewis and Clark basketball coach Chad Kimberley resigned. Greg Lee has the story.

Seahawks: Atlanta and its high-powered offense offers a challenge for the Hawk defense. It’s a challenge Michael Bennett would rather not have. … One big difference last week was Seattle used fullback Marcel Reese a lot. And he delivered. … There is a chance running back C.J. Prosise will play Saturday, but that won’t be decided until later. … Dave Boling believes Bobby Wagner should win the NFL defensive player of the year award. … Steven Hauschka and his missed extra points: It happens.

Mariners: So, will the M’s add another starter or use an in-house candidate to fill out their rotation? … Larry Stone hopes Jerry Dipoto isn’t done making moves.

•••

• Football is all about the buildup during the week, isn’t it? Seven days of a drum beating about the game, the pace picking up as it gets closer. The game is played and then comes the inevitable letdown – or euphoria. It’s a rhythm right out of “Whiplash.” Until later …

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