BY Art Thiel 08:59PM 09/21/2014

Thiel: Seahawks, Broncos go marvelous for all

As much as Seahawks and Broncos wanted this game, the football nation needed it — a celebration of the best, while we sort out the other parts of human behavior.

Marshawn Lynch was the heart of the end zone party with his first of two touchdowns. / Drew Sellers, Sportspress Northwest

As much as Seahawks fans craved a repeat thrashing of the Broncos, as much as Broncos fans obsessed over beating the Seahawks, the rest of football America that was unaffiliated was given what they needed Sunday afternoon — a dramatic game between two splendid teams in the sport’s most wildly visceral setting that reminded discerning fans why they go to the trouble of enjoying pro football.

As Russell Wilson put it, “If anyone doesn’t like football, if you turn that game on, it was a game for the ages.”

It was hardly perfect, but no NFL game ever is (well, maybe one, depending on your perspective). The heavyweights threw hands hard and often, and doubled each other over. They clinched, forcing extra time.

Then there was the irrational majesty of randomness that confounds every great sports event — in this case, the overtime coin toss.

“(The rules) put a premium on the coin toss,” said Peyton Manning. “(We) called tails at the beginning of the game. Went with it in overtime. It was heads, and proved to be a significant call.”

But only if the chance is exploited, as Manning had just done moments earlier — taking his team 80 yards in less than a minute with no timeouts against the game’s best defense in the worst atmosphere for an opposing offense, to score the game-tying touchdown and two-point conversion.

“That’s not easy to do,” said Manning. He practiced during the week by shoving a camel through the eye of a needle.

But then, randomness gave the turn to Wilson. And he duplicated the exploitation — going 80 yards, without the burden of time but with the knowledge that his offense made only 90 yards in the entire second half — for the game-winning touchdown.

Time will tell if the moment represented the passing of the torch between the greatest quarterback who ever was to the greatest who is, but certainly it was a sequence of events that riveted all who were hanging on the cliff with the two.

“The key to taking advantage of those moments is still playing smart football . . . to the edge — and not falling off the ledge,” Wilson said. Then he went further, explaining his lust for the crucible had him wanting Manning to tie the game.

“Even though they came back, it was almost — I don’t want to say this the wrong way — I was almost hoping it would happen,” he said. “I believed our defense would make a stop, but if it didn’t happen . . .I couldn’t wait for (the moment).”

It case there were any doubters left from the previous season, now you know how a champion quarterback thinks. That how it works with Michael Jordan, Derek Jeter — as a matter of fact, those were two Wilson himself cited in his post-game reverie. He is moving steadily toward the dreadnought class.

In the overtime drive, against a defense that was upgraded in the off-season with $110 million in salary commitments for just such an occasion, Wilson completed four of six passes for 35 yards and scrambled from the pocket for 21 more. That’s 56 of the 80.

But running meant risk to his valuable hide. Wilson has been trained to get out of bounds, or to slide, to minimize harm. This drive, not so much. At the end of his dashes, he took a couple of licks when he sought the valuable extra yard.

“That’s not one of those times, I don’t believe,” he said. “When the game’s on the line and you have Peyton Manning over there on the other side, you know you have to make some plays.”

The outcome was obviously about much more than Wilson: RB Marshawn Lynch had 88 yards rushing, the game-winning TD as well as a TD catch, WR Ricardo Lockette grabbed a spectacular TD pass, denied the Broncos an almost-sure interception and made a great special teams tackle. Jon Ryan’s spectacular punting was decisive, and until the final drive, the Seahawks defense held the Broncos offense to 252 yards and 10 points.

But lesser feats in lesser moments also told the tale of passion and edge. Early in the fourth quarter, the Seahawks were on their own seven-yard line when Wilson surprisingly dropped to the goal line to pass, whereupon he was clobbered from behind by DE DeMarcus Ware.

The 6-4, 258-pound kitchen appliance of mobile meanness also knocked loose the ball, and a prodigious goal-line pileup ensued for possession, which could have meant a touchdown for Denver, or at least a first down at the one. Seconds passed as players and referees dug through the haystack of sweaty humanity.

At the bottom were Wilson and DeWare, going at it. Here’s how Wilson saw it:

Wilson: “You’re not going to get this ball.”

Ware: “I’ll wait all night.”

Wilson: “I’ll wait all night too.”

Ware (to the ref): “No, I got it, I got it.”

Wilson: “DeMarcus, I’m not letting you have this.”

The refs awarded the ball to Wilson, but triumph was short-lived. The next play, third-and-17 from the one, resulted in a safety when Lynch was tackled in the end zone by T.J. Ward — the first of 17 unanswered points in the fourth quarter that turned the game.

Until it was turned back in overtime.

In times like these, when more important arguments about culture, behavior, morality and law induce guilt in people of conscience for savoring mere games, the recording of this Sunday afternoon might be forwarded to fair-minded skeptics to help them understand.

Led by gentlemen warriors, two great sides filled with spectacular athletes and clever strategists strained mightily at each other to discover the barest of differences. It doesn’t often happen, but when it does, it is a thrill and privilege to witness those at the acme of human endeavor.

The best place for light is upon the darkness in human behavior. Often, the best source of light is sports. Sometimes, it’s fun for its own self, in spite of itself.



  • Casey Corr

    Great column, Art.

    • art thiel

      I am honored by the sage of Central Washington.

  • John Morris

    Art, I have been reading your articles for over twenty years, the work above was one of your best.

    • art thiel

      Thanks, John. Please tell your friends!

  • Tim

    Brilliant. I felt that even if the Hawks lost and were 1-2, there would have been no reason to panic with a loss like this. This was one hell of a game. I’ve got a weird feeling that these two teams are going to meet again this year.

    • art thiel

      A rematch would surprise few, and disappoint none.

  • PokeyPuffy


    Not sure that these are the best two teams right now, but they certainly have a history that adds to the flavor. This homer feels the game was given by the hawks, lots of opportunities to put this away. When you have the lead and get a pick with 2 minutes to go, that should end the game, for example.

    This is shaping up to be a weird season, the D does not look as dominant as last year, and the o looks about the same (which is to say erratic).

    • art thiel

      Small sample size. Enough is new to require time to jell.

      You’re right about history. Adds so much to anticipation of games.

  • Will

    Art, bravo, you get an A+ for the last few sentences of this excellence piece.

    • Its onlySports(DavidWakefield)

      I will tell you who doesnt get an A+ in all of this post revelry? Today Danny Oneil wrote an article chastising Mark Kiszla of the Denver Post for blaming the Bronco loss on the coin toss…no A+ for that preposterous insinuation. We have Denver who NEVER led in that game and it took an improbable safety and rare missed field goal ….then a 2 point conversion just to force the TIE. I would surmise if Denver had won the coin toss and marched down the field for a TD that guy would be chirping like a canary about destiny and that Seattle is this years pretender blah blah blah. We are fortunate not to be 1~2 at the bye but what a performance the team put on in OT to make sure we aren’t lamenting what could have been this morning. We all will take 2~1 and some personal growth for our Favorite team. Go Hawks!

      • art thiel

        Actually Manning made the point about the coin flip. I suspect that if the situation were reversed and Seattle was denied a chance at the ball, lamentations would have laid thick here.

  • ll9956

    I’ll add my name to those who praise this excellent article, Art.

  • jafabian

    Ricardo Lockette did a little bit of everything today. I wonder if they’ve thought about having him return kicks? We have rather pedestrian field position on the return game today. Leon Washington anyone?

    • art thiel

      Lockette was considered, but he’s so good on coverage. Pete went on today about how much Lockette has improved. He’s more than an athlete now. He’s a player.

    • Its onlySports(DavidWakefield)

      Doug Baldwin plays special teams too and was quoted in preseason as saying while they may use him sporadically as a return man he is more valuable as a fleet down field tackler.Equally as valuable? Lockette as well. I am up for using him occasionally JAF …. to see if he could occasionally break one for us although perhaps Pete doesnt want to mess up a good thing and Ricardos speed as a gunner is indeed a good thing….What an exciting team to watch with all of the versitality many of this teams players offer us to behold each and every sunday.Just the 3rd week of the season and we have gotten much entertainment already.Doug said on the radio today its been pretty intense and that the Bye week is more of a blessing than they would have thought after the Sauna Bowl in San Diego playing Football in Hades this season. These guy deserve a little mini break.

  • whoKarez

    Every time we have a third and long we run with the beast. Think we’re getting predictable? I guess about as predictable as ppl arse kissing the author of the article and having nothing meaningful to say. just kidding.

    • Kary

      I thought it pretty predictable that Lynch was given the ball on the last play, and seemingly it didn’t matter. 6+ yards when everyone in the stadium, except seemingly 11 people, knew who was getting the ball.

      • art thiel

        The variety in Seattle’s offense is richer than you think. The Broncos had to play straight up. Couldn’t chance eight in the box or Wilson would have changed the call at the line

    • art thiel

      I’m guessing Harvin and Baldwin might have some evidence on what happens on third down.

  • cowfarmerJoe

    We should add that a missed field goal by Hauschka created the added drama.

    • art thiel

      So did Carroll’s failure to challenge the denial of Lynch’s first-possession TD run. Many such things qualify.

  • Greg

    Can I get an Amen for brother Art!… Great game, great reading!

    • art thiel

      Thanks. Sometimes a great game inspires.

  • Diamond Mask

    Wonderful reading Art. “he practiced by shoving a camel through the eye of a needle.” Priceless. It was painful to watch however. I kept thinking there was NO WAY our defense would allow this to happen. Boy was I wrong. Kudos to Manning who kept the histrionics to a minimum yesterday and is it possible for us to love Wilson more?

    BTW, I think Phil Simms went a little overboard appeasing whiny Bronco fans. He showered them with verbal love the whole game.

    • art thiel

      Was it painful? Excruciating, perhaps, but that’s part of why we love sports. Our first and best reality TV. No way was that outcome forcastable.

  • Its onlySports(DavidWakefield)

    This game had 3 games of drama rolled into one and Art captured this masterfully. Who would have thunk that a guy Pete calls Haush Money would miss a Field goal or that our terrific defense would give up a 2 point conversion for the tie which I’m guessing the statistics are against any offense that tries that in desperation. It was the perfect storm to get it into overtime and then excellent play from our QB who should have more praise for also being “money” when the chance to shine is on the line. It was a big shout out to the NFL pundits that Seattle could win this type of Superbowl too. You want a QB to have ice in his veins and we have one. What a game and kudos for this article Art.

    • art thiel

      Storylines and drama aplenty. Ranks up there with the NFC championship. I didn’t think I’d be saying that so soon.

  • RunningRoy

    After that finish, what’s next: a new McDonald’s commercial with Peyton and Russell playing a football version of H-O-R-S-E?
    Off the goalpost, graze the 12th Man flag, nick the coin toss in the air.
    Nothing but net.

    • art thiel

      I remember that. I think it starts with a toss atop the Crows Nest . . .

      • Its onlySports(DavidWakefield)

        That would be entertaining indeed…Crows Nest. And After “Horse” We Play “Hawks” next , Manning!

  • skip demuth

    Art, what’s the dreadnought class?

    • art thiel

  • shupe

    Awesome article. My favorite read in quite a while. Well done.

  • Raymond Meyers

    Very nice, Art. This game had the drama the Super Bowl lacked. And this article is my favorite read in quite a while.

    • art thiel

      How about Seahawks-Broncos, best-of-seven?

      • Raymond Meyers

        I like it. The way things are going we could probably track that over the regular schedule.

  • Barbara Seiders

    Enjoyed this article, thanks! It was definitely a classic game.

    • art thiel

      My pleasure.

  • Mike Barnes

    Great game, one for the books. “Even though they came back, it was almost — I don’t want to say this the wrong way — I was almost hoping it would happen,”
    Curious bit of bravado, that. What if they’d lost? Might have kept it to himself.
    But that’s what makes the Seahawks and Marines aiike victors. It’s the badass spirit of Chesty Puller, “We’re surrounded. Good. That simplifies the situation.”

    • art thiel

      We were all surprised he said it, but upon reflection, it is so Russell. Your Puller quotes captures his mindset.

  • jim bodeen

    This is what you’ve been given to do. To write like this about sports. The other doesn’t interest me. Others can do that.

    • art thiel

      I’m attempting to keep at it. Thanks for reading.

  • 1coolguy

    Wow, what a game. We almost handed it to Denver in a variety of ways that happen over the course of a season, not 1 game:
    - Hauschka missing a FG? No way, not from 46 in good weather!
    - The Beast tackled for a safety? Not in our LIFETIME!
    - A smart guy like Sherman NOT pushing Thomas out of the end zone on the 2 point conversion when Thomas was elevated?
    - LOB not adjusting to the route Denver ran multiple times in the final 80 yard drive? Right out of the Chargers play book.
    If ANY one of the above does not happen Hawks win in regulation. It was like all the stars aligning – just doesn’t happen.

    Also it was apparent Manning did some lifting in the off-season, as his passes were MUCH more crisp and timely than in the SB. The 2 long passes on the 80 yard drive didn’t flutter at all and were not ducks.

    • art thiel

      The game was close for many reasons, even more than you cited. That’s what made it wonderful. The Broncos made a huge investment partly for this game, and just missed pulling it off. As I mentioned above — best of seven.

  • Raymond Meyers

    This article says something that needs to be said. For those who may have missed it:

    Every once in a while you get to watch two excellent teams led by real leaders play a game like this one. They played hard, hit hard, and put everything they had into every play. But after the whistle blew, they helped each other up for the next attack. They put everything they have into winning. But at the end of the game they give each other not just basic human respect, but the respect a great man gives another great man – as a team.

    This game defined football as it’s supposed to be. A test of will, of strength, of strategy, and of skill. And throughout the game, you could see the respect each team had for the other. That was how the game should be played. Gentlemen. Beating each others’ butts.

    • art thiel

      Enjoyed your take, Ray. Glad you appreciated a moment to celebrate a sport.

  • T.O. (the good one)

    Yes, that is great writing. Absolutely marvelous.

  • Raymond Meyers

    I just did a little math and a little research, and I’m almost out of beer. Joe Montana’s win percentage, which I’m not sure whether or not it includes the post season, is listed at 0.713. According to the site I looked on, that’s the best win percentage ever.

    Including the post season, Russell Wilson’s win percentage is .743. I didn’t major in calculus, but I seem to remember from ninth grade algebra that .743 is bigger than .713. A little food for thought about our young “game manager.”