It was the play heard around the world.
With less than a minute remaining in Super Bowl 49, the Seattle Seahawks had the ball on the one-yard line with three plays and, crucially, just one time-out to punch it into the end zone.
Yet instead of running the ball with their superstar running back, Marshawn Lynch, they chose to throw the ball, and well... I don’t have to remind you how that ended.
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“The worst play call in NFL history”, is what a Sports Illustrated article called it over the summer. While that may be overstating things a bit, there is no doubt that it was a game for the ages, and a crushing defeat to the Seahawks and the fans.
So here we stand at the mid-point in the season, and to the casual observer, the two teams that played in that now infamous game; the New England Patriots and the Seattle Seahawks, seem to be on diverging courses of destiny.
The Patriots look unstoppable behind the ageless wonder that is Tom Brady, who seems hell bent on proving people wrong about being charged, and later cleared, in the “deflate-gate” scandal. They sit at 8-0 and haven’t appeared to be tested yet this season.
Meanwhile, the Seahawks look as vulnerable as any team in the league, having barely won against the hapless Detroit Lions on Monday Night Football’s October the fifth matchup, and generally not looking like the defensive juggernaut they once were.
Getting healthy for last push
Yet, if you take a closer look at what is happening in the league, there are signs that there are some changes on the horizon. Anyone who follows the NFL closely already knows that football is a rough sport, and injuries play as much a factor as any when you consider which teams find success at the end of the season.
Earlier this week, the Patriots lost a key member of their roster when the emerging running back, Dion Lewis, was ruled out for the rest of the year with an ACL injury. Brady still has many options on offense, but there is no doubt it hurts their offense even if only a little.
On the other hand, the Seahawks are relatively healthy. Not only are there no significant injuries on the Seahawks roster, but they are getting even healthier; with speedy sophomore Paul Richardson and the lesser known Legion of Boom member, Jeremy Lane, returning to action in the next few games.
“It’s exciting to get back to football,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll told Seahawks.com on Monday. “It’s a good break for everyone, we benefitted from the rest. We’ll come back pretty darn healthy here going into this week, which is a great sign for the midpoint of the season."
Regaining their confidence
In addition to health, the Seahawks defense looks to be back in form, which is a scary thought to the rest of the league. They have not given up a touchdown in their past two games, and while one can criticize the opponents (Dallas and San Francisco), there is no denying that the Seahawks seem to have regained their swagger that carried them last season.
While many people marvel at how fantastic the Denver Broncos defense has been this season, they overlook the fact that the Seahawks have only given up one more point on defense than the Broncos.
Lastly, besides the health, and the return of the defense, one only has to look at the remaining games left on the Seahawks schedule. There are only two teams they must play who currently hold winning records, and they will play five out of the next eight games at the infamous home field advantage that is CenturyLink Field.
Similarly to last year, the Seahawks are poised to make a strong run to the finish line in the second half of the season, starting this Sunday night at home against Arizona in a nationally televised game. If they can prove that they beat a worthy division rival, we just might see the rematch everybody wants in Super Bowl 50.
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