SEATTLE – It’s now called State Farm Stadium (something even less memorable apparently wasn’t available) rather than University of Phoenix Stadium (OK, so it has a history of unfortunate names).
And maybe it makes sense that the Arizona Cardinals’ field in Glendale has had a makeover in name since the Seahawks were last there, as the Seahawks themselves have had a significant facelift since their visit there last November.
That was one of two times the Seahawks entered what was then called University of Phoenix Stadium and left forever transformed in ways they could hardly have imagined at the time.
The first is a certain pass you may be tired of hearing about.
Regardless of what you think of how that play changed the culture of the team going forward – does Kam Chancellor hold out if the Seahawks win that game? Do they still make the Jimmy Graham-Max Unger trade? – one could argue each of those were bigger factors in what happened next than any quarterback-defense tension, not winning a second Super Bowl altered the legacy of the Legion of Boom era forever.
As only became apparent through the weeks and months that followed, it was an era that ended almost as abruptly on that same field last Nov. 9, when the Seattle careers of both Richard Sherman and Chancellor came to a stunning close.
Sherman’s was apparent at the time as he limped off in the third quarter with a torn Achilles tendon, which given his age and contract situation immediately led to speculation that it was possible he’d played his last Seattle snap.
Nobody had a clue about Chancellor.
He left at the 2-minute warning, having suffered a neck injury a couple of plays prior, though few noticed it at the time, the immediate thought being that the Seahawks were just letting Delano Hill get a few snaps with the game seemingly comfortably in hand (the Seahawks won 22-16 and were ahead 22-10 when Chancellor left – he had made what was a game-high 10 tackles when he departed.)
The first mention of his situation came when coach Pete Carroll was asked a general question about injuries afterward.
“Kam had a stinger late in the game, and we need to see what that’s all about to take care of him and make sure he’s OK,” Carroll said that night.
But the next day, the attention centered on Sherman’s future and the controversy over whether Russell Wilson had been properly checked out for a concussion – yep, that was an event-filled game – and it wasn’t until the following week that it became apparent that maybe the Chancellor situation was a big deal.
The history in that stadium there is weird and unpleasant enough that Seahawks asked about it this week either seemed to intentionally avoid the topic or, well, just intentionally tried to avoid the topic – it’s hard to imagine all this won’t go through their minds at least a little come Sunday.
“No, didn’t think about that at all,” said receiver Doug Baldwin when asked if he’s thought about all that has happened on that field as the Seahawks prepare for a return (it was Baldwin’s touchdown that put Seattle ahead 24-14 late in the third quarter in the Super Bowl and seemed to make a second straight Lombardi Trophy and NFL immortality a given). “Not in correlation to the stadium, no.”
Said Bobby Wagner, whose interception led to Baldwin’s touchdown: “I didn’t think about none of that until you brought it up. … I haven’t thought about none of that.”
In the same answer, Wagner added, “I think maybe something better is going to happen when we play.”
That was a reference to Sunday’s game against Arizona.
If it seems like it’s taken us a while to get to that game, it’s because this sadly feels like a matchup of teams whose futures are in the past with the Rams ruling the NFC roost after Seattle and Arizona spent most of the middle part of the 2010s battling for control of the division.
Arizona has scored 20 points entering this game – about the same number as the Rams score before the first quarter of any of their games has ended.
Former Arizona coach Bruce Arians was an easy target for Seattle fans, but that would not have happened under his watch.
Arizona’s futility makes this a game the Seahawks simply have to win. The Seahawks were a three-point favorite as of Saturday morning and it’s hard to see them being that big of a favorite in any road game going forward, and maybe even any home game given the nature of the rest of the opponents coming to CenturyLink Field, other than maybe the suddenly Jimmy Garoppolo -less 49ers.
While the Seahawks have some bad memories at whatever-they-call-it field in Glendale, they also are 4-0-1 there in the regular season since 2012, not having lost to the Cardinals there since Russell Wilson’s first NFL game in 2012.
If that seems like yesterday, it’s also almost hard to fathom all that has happened since then.
A loss would mark an even further end of the road – it’s difficult to see the Seahawks recovering from a 1-3 start to make anything of this season.
A nice, mundane, instantly forgettable victory would be the most memorable thing that could happen.
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