BY Art Thiel 04:41PM 12/07/2013

Thiel: Terminator-style Seahawks do not stop

Just in time for the 49ers rematch, the Seahawks are developing a certain remorselessness that we’ve seen somewhere before.

During the 49ers game at the Clink, Richard Sherman asked the crowd how he was doing. / Drew Sellers, Sportspress Northwest

The Seahawks have been so metronomic in their relative steadiness and efficiency that, at the three-quarter mark of the regular season, not even the recurring drugs controversy can knock them off dead center.  It’s almost scary. You know, like character Kyle Reese explaining the “Terminator” to bewildered heroine Sarah Connor:

“Listen, and understand. That Terminator is out there. It can’t be bargained with. It can’t be reasoned with. It doesn’t feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop, ever, until you are dead.”

A little dramatic, but you understand the point.

At this time of year, the media pack that regularly covers the Seahawks is beginning to run out of angles, having written the equivalent of “Seahawks win again” way more times than any have experienced.

But surely, the second meeting of the season with the rival San Francisco 49ers at 1 p.m. Sunday would inspire this week some florid hyperbole, or a little trash talk, or, hell, funny faces. Something.

No. Nothing.

Not even pity for the scribes desperate to give ravenous readers morsels of confrontational Seahawks’ oral ferocity. Here’s what voluble CB Richard Sherman had to say Thursday about the alleged “bigness” of the rematch:

“Nothing changes for us. It doesn’t get more intense. There’s no such thing as a big game. Our field is the same size. The month has changed, but guys are going out there and executing.

“We’re focused on San Francisco this week and doing everything that we can to prepare for them, making sure that we’re totally prepared when we get out there in Candlestick and go out there and execute. Next week, we’ll worry about what happens the next week.”

I half-expected Sherman to offer up another line from the movie in his Ah-nold Terminator voice: “Your clothes . . . give them to me, now.”

While Sherman’s remarks would seem the standard robotic rhetoric chosen from Pete Carroll’s Closet of Cliches, looking over the season discloses a sincere adoption of the words that is remarkable in its relentlessness: The top three NFC challengers to the Seahawks at the moment, Carolina, San Francisco and New Orleans, have all been defeated by Seattle while scoring a cumulative 17 points.

That’s sufficient dominance to at least make the casting call for the next Terminator sequel.

Granted, the games against the Panthers and 49ers were in the season’s first two weeks, and both teams seem to be playing better now than then. But the 34-7 beatdown Monday over the 9-2 Saints suggests the Seahawks, too, have crossed a threshold. The Saints were one of the NFL’s premier offenses, and they spent the next several days in a dark room, whimpering.

Asked why the defense has been so effective against the best, even Sherman shrugged, seemingly accepting that the machine does not think as much as respond.

“I guess I couldn’t answer that,” he said. “We just play our game. We just go out there and play to the best of our abilities and let the chips fall where they may. Man up and see what happens. A lot of our guys are playing at a high level.”

The Seahawks have advanced to the point where the opponent attaches a specialness to the matchup that Seattle does not. While that can mean punches will land — for example, the winless Tampa Bucs were up 21-0 in a game they lost 27-24 — rarely is that emotion sustainable for the length of an NFL game.

The point is worth considering in view of the conventional wisdom going into Sunday’s game. A win is more critical to the 49ers than the Seahawks, it is said, for the obvious reason that at 8-4, the Niners are three games back of division-leading Seattle (11-1) and just one ahead of third-place Arizona (7-5). A loss puts San Francisco in a fight merely to make the playoffs.

So beating Seattle is nearly mandatory. But it works against the 49ers to think that way, simply because it creates fear of error, which is not a way to play any sport. That is not to say the Seahawks are unbeatable, but reduces the opponents’ chances because besides overcoming the Seahawks, they have to overcome fear of being “the guy” who makes the  mistake that costs the game.

In a teleconference call this week, Niners defensive coordinator Vic Fangio explained the same thing in another way, suggesting that quarterback Russell Wilson’s indomitability provides the difference as the game wears on.

“They’ve got really good players,” Fangio said. “The quarterback’s in the conversation of one of the top quarterbacks in the league right now. He’s very dynamic. He can make the plays with his arm. He makes the plays with his feet. And then they’ve got the option running game that he’s directly involved in.

“So, when you have a great quarterback like they do, you’re never out of a game. And, when you have a great quarterback with the defense they have, they can score, defense can go out and hold them, get it back, score again. They’ve got a really good, balanced team.”

Fangio undoubtedly has some schemes he thinks can work. And yes, the “Terminator” does lose. But that’s in the movies. Since halftime of the Tampa game, the Seahawks have given up 41 points to 3½ opponents. Can’t be bargained with.  Seahawks 31, 49ers 17

 


YourThoughts

  • Gary S

    “scribes desperate to give ravenous readers morsels of confrontational Seahawks’ oral ferocity.” Damn Art, where do you come up with this stuff. I love reading your prose. You’re one of a kind.

  • oldcrimson

    I’ve never seen anything like this team. I realize that the fan base is taking some heat for our delirium, but for Pete’s sake (ha, ha – like that?), how can you not be high on this team (oh, Jeez, there’s another!)?
    Seriously, my own excitement comes not just for the fact that they’re 11-1 and dominating every good team on their schedule. It’s not even that they seem to be Terminator-ing their way to a February victory. It’s that they’re doing so in a way that suggests sustainability. They’re seriously lucky in their salary situation and they’ll have to solve that riddle soon enough, but I feel like these guys are buying what Carroll is selling. While no one really gives (or is obligated to give) hometown discounts, I do think that there is value to consistency, winning and, yes, fun that seems to be an important part of the Hawks culture right now. And that leads me to believe (hope?) that they can keep this going for a long while.

    • art thiel

      Sustainability is a greater challenge than winning once. The Seahawks can be this deep only once. After success, some players leave and others get paid more, shrinking the pool under the cap. The biggest advantage the Seahawks have is Wilson and his rapport with coaches. That’s what Belichick and Brady have going.

  • PokeyPuffy

    A great read as usual Art. The Schwarzenegger metaphor is one that never occurred to me and frankly seems a bit off, given what a merry band Pete and his bunch are. To me its more like the nerds finally buffing up and getting revenge on the studs in high school. Picture Wilson with thick glasses vs the studly Kap with all his manly tats. And does anyone remember earlier in the year when Sherman called Harbaugh a “misogynist”? How many football players even know what that means??

    • art thiel

      It’s true that from a fan’s perspective these guys are an engaging, generally bright bunch, led by positive Pete. But when it’s game time, there is an intensity and focus in this group that is clinical and relentless. Almost . . . robotic.

      So I stretched a little for something different.

  • Kyle Reese

    Sherman (Cyberdyne Systems Model 101) checking out gear from the Seahawks equipment Manager: “New uniform, Nike Alpha Pro cleats, phased plasma rifle in the 40-watt range…”

    • art thiel

      Kyle, you know this, but a word of warning to Super Bowl opponents: The Seahawks will introduce a liquid metal version in New York.

  • NV_Seahawker

    I loved your article, Art! The point you made so well that I think 98% of other sportswriters are missing is that SF’s “must win” situation can just as easily translate into them (SF) playing a tight/nervous game.

  • bugzapper

    85 yards in penalties will pretty much terminate a winning streak. Even when they win, they make the same idiotic errors. Today they ran out of luck.
    I’m sick of it. Time for Carroll to start teaching the Hawks some damned discipline.