BY Art Thiel 08:36PM 01/18/2015

Thiel: Seahawks vs. Pats, the hard, weird way

While nothing went the way anyone predicted Sunday at the Clink, Russell Wilson knew he had one play that would go right. He even predicted it.

Russell Wilson hoists the NFC Championship Trophy after the game. / Drew McKenzie, Sportspress Northwest

In a game more unpredictable than a toddler nursery, Russell Wilson found a quiet moment in the bedlam of overtime Sunday afternoon and offered up a prediction. It was the only correct prediction in a game that will win by acclamation the Oscar for Most Preposterous Outcome.

But before we get to that, we want to bring you a post-game tirade that sets up the prediction. Articulate as he is passionate, WR Doug Baldwin unleashed after leaving the field following the Seahawks’ epic 28-22 triumph over Green Bay that sends the Seattles, again, to the Super Bowl, this time against the New England Patriots Feb. 1 in Glendale, AZ. The Pats crushed Indianapolis 45-7 later Sunday to win the AFC championship.

In the Clink tunnel, he encountered local and national reporters awaiting admission to the locker room. Eyes growing wide, Baldwin saw a chance to unload the chip on his shoulder, which as most Seahawks followers know, is a Pacific Coast redwood.

Are you ready for this?” Baldwin asked, as reporters stared. “Are you?”

Resetting his feet, he leaned into it.

“How many of you mother (expletive) doubted us?” he said, voice rising. “How many of you doubted us when we were 3-3? I want you to write this down. Write this down, OK? When we were 3-3, everyone counted us out. Y’all didn’t believe in us. A whole bunch of people thought we weren’t going to make it. At 6-4 — ‘Ah, that’s OK. They have a winning record, but they aren’t going to make the playoffs.’

“At 16-0 at the half, how many of you counted us out? How many of y’all doubted us? It is indicative of our season. Y’all didn’t want to believe in us. It’s OK — we don’t need you to believe. We’re going to believe in ourselves. We ain’t worried about y’all. We are worried about ourselves.

Baldwin, who had six catches for 106 yards, including a 35-yard beauty that set up the game-winner, was on a rhetorical jihad:

“When we were down 16-0 at the half, guess what we said? ‘You don’t win the game in the first half. You win the game in the second half.’ When we do, we come out and we do what we do — we play Seahawks football. We got the opportunity to do what we love. And, we’ll see y’all at the Super Bowl.”

Angry Doug pivoted, then left. Reporters chuckled, then burst into laughter, our stories half-done once the rant was transcribed.

Beyond the humor, there was much truth in Baldwin’s explosion. The Seahawks really do believe they are capable of most anything. The faith stood in stark contrast to the game’s first 56 minutes, when they seemed capable of mostly nothing, save for a fake field goal that turned into a touchdown pass from a punter to a 300-pound lineman. Fat-guy scores are never pulled from the shelf of the main aisle.

But as the Seahawks say incessantly, it’s how you finish. Which brings us back to Wilson’s prediction.

After the Seahawks scored with 2:09 left to close to 19-14, then recovered an onside kick and scored again 44 seconds later, adding a loopy, two-point conversion pass to go up 22-19, the Packers punched back with a 48-yard drive to a tying field goal to force overtime. Whew.

The Seahawks had just overcome, from 16-0, the biggest deficit in NFC Championship history. But they hadn’t won — yet. That’s when Wilson leaned over to offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell after the Seahawks won the coin toss to get the ball first in overtime.

“It’s kinda funny,” he said. “I told him on the sideline I was going to hit (Jermaine) Kearse for a touchdown, on a check (a play changed at the line of scrimmage).

“Sure enough, we did.”

Of all the unlikely elements that poured from this game like confetti, the play selection here was perhaps the most unlikely of all.

Not only did the play immediately follow a booming completion of 35 yards to Baldwin, the hot read on the decisive play was a man having a bad game in the manner of the Washington Generals, the Globetrotters’ stooges, had bad games.

Kearse, the Tacoma kid who played for the University of Washington, had been targeted by Wilson five previous times, resulting in an incompletion and all of Wilson’s career-high four interceptions. One was a bad throw by Wilson, one was a good defensive play by the Packers, but two clanged off Kearse’s hands to the defense.

“I was like, what is going on?” Kearse said. “I never really felt sorry for myself. You got to learn how to push through those type of moments. Russell kept giving me chances, and I made one.”

On a play installed just this week, Kearse and Wilson knew the receiver was one-on-one against CB Tramon Williams, an eight-year vet who had no help because the Packers chose to play the run with a cover-zero formation.

Wilson’s arc described a perfect parabola that hit Kearse in full stride at the three-yard line. He tumbled into the end zone as a record Clink crowd of 65,538 began shaking the Pioneer Square earth as if it wanted to loosen Bertha from her muddy quagmire.

Prediction fulfilled — and history repeated. A year ago on the same field in the NFC Championship against San Francisco, it was Kearse who caught a 35-yard pass on fourth-and-seven that proved to be the game-winner.

The prelude to the astonishing finish was one of the worst halves of Pete Carroll’s five-year coaching tenure in Seattle. Given the stakes, it was the worst.

“We just made mistake after mistake after mistake, and looked terrible,” Carroll said. “They jumped on us and tore us up . . . such a challenging day. It was hard.”

Fortunately for the Seahawks, they had a defense that again applied the second-half hammer, allowing three points after intermission. Given the great field position that the Packers, the NFL’s No. 1 offense, were given by three of Wilson’s interceptions, as well as Baldwin’s fumble on a kickoff return, the Seahawks defense may have played its best game of the season.

Finally, Wilson paid back the defense on the game’s final two plays to crush the Packers, who are familiar with the feeling. Two years ago in the regular season’s third game, Golden Tate stole a game from the Packers on the celebrated “Fail Mary” pass that provided a 14-12 decision.

“This one’s going to hurt for awhile,” said Aaron Rodgers, the Packers QB who was valiant but perturbed. “The close proximity . . .that feeling, the clock hits zero . . . gave it away.”

Then there’s the Seahawks fans of little faith who left the stadium early when Seattle was down 19-7. Hundreds of fans outside the Clink clamored to get back before game’s end, but were denied re-entry.

Doug Baldwin would like to have a word with them.


  • just passing thru

    Wow! Just wow!!

  • dinglenuts

    If Russell Wilson is your quarterback, don’t leave early, no matter how bleak it looks. Just don’t.

    In the words of Bill Waterson’s Calvin, “That’s a tip, kids. Write it down.”

  • Dave Mauro

    All through the first three quarters I kept thinking “who are these guys wearing our Seahawks uniforms?” It was more like a big violent costume party than a football game featuring last year’s champs. And then, somewhere in the fourth quarter, Russell Wilson set his feet and threw a pass. I don’t even remember if it was completed, but his form was confident and I could tell something had changed. I don’t think the Packers ever got past the stunned phase when the momentum turned. I imagine them sitting in the team jet now asking “what the F&#% just happened?!”

    • Its onlySports(DavidWakefield)

      Alien abduction and replacement of an entire team until 330pm PST….those replacement Aliens need to learn how to play American Football.
      They are probably sitting around their chalkboard at this very moment asking the Question” Whats a Patriot , anyway?”

      • art thiel

        In space, no one can hear you scream.

    • art thiel

      Packers fans are not alone. Seahawks fans and all neutral fans are asking the same question.

    • Kristafarian

      ” …his form was confident and I could tell something had changed.”

      Like Brad Pitt in whatsitcalled?

      • Dave Mauro

        Really not sure what you are trying to say here…

  • Vandy

    That was the worst, and the best game that I’ve seen, and I think because of that, it’s the best game I’ve ever seen. I’ve watched so much football over the years, and heartbreaking Seahawks football, to know just how impossible that comeback was. Two and a half minutes to go, with the slimmest of hopes hinging on the even slimmer chance of successfully pulling off an onside kick. And, they did it. When every break, and every play seemed to be breaking Green Bay’s way, but the Hawks just kept playing hard–even when it was seemingly to be just one of those days. Unbelievable. Teams don’t have five turnovers, and win. It just doesn’t happen–let alone in championship games. Rocky lasting fifteen and losing a split-decision against Apollo Creed was more plausible than this victory. As agnostic as I am, Russell Wilson, and this cohort of warriors/Seahawks, is turning me into a believer in divine intercession. Seriously–the two-point conversion to Luke Willson was literally Russell flinging the ball up for grabs, but with the grace of God, and the lanky Canadian pulled down the most important catch of his burgeoning career. The prodigal pair of receivers–Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse–finding redemption and atoning for their earlier turnovers in the game during overtime, in quick succession, marching us to the Super Bowl, in the most dramatic game I’ve ever beheld. Unbelievable. I’ve never screamed with such unbridled joy, awe, shock, emotion, and love, as did throughout those last twenty minutes of football. Nothing left to say, but Amen, Thank God, and Go HAWKS!

    • Dave Mauro

      Yes, but if it was God’s intervention we should ask why he hates the Packers so much. Truly he smited them in a biblical way.

      • Vandy

        I don’t know, Dave. Maybe God gets all Old Testament on teams who think they’ve won the game with five minutes left, and start celebrating too soon…say, punishment of excessive hubris? Tragic pride?

        Clearly, I’m being facetious, but I’m a believer in this team, in Pete and John, in Paul Allen, in Russell Wilson, the LOB, our pedestrian receivers, the Twelves, Chris Matthews (much preferable to that Hardball guy), the bicyclist Michael Bennett, the sure-handed Gerry Gilliam, and our throwing punter, et. al. That game was so impossibly improbable–so unbelievable, that I have to agree with the headline on today’s Seattle Times: MIRACLE!

        • Dave Mauro

          I’m with you on those beliefs, Vandy. I give all the credit to the players in creating this miracle. Most teams would have been too busy pouting on the pine those last five minutes. It takes a special group of players to keep the dream on life support long enough for it to stand up and take off running.

      • art thiel

        Two times in three years here.

    • art thiel

      Not sure God had a play here. Although fat-guy touchdowns are official miracles.

      • Vandy

        See, Art–you’re getting converted to 12ism, just like me!

    • Kristafarian

      I dunno. He gives- He takes… Seems to me like He took away a reception* the week before that gave GB the game…

      * Where the guy had obviously caught the the ball, took a step or two, and then tried to shove it over the goal line. Only there did he bobble it, after he’d obviously caught it. Seemed like Divine Intervention (or a loose-cannon ref) to me …

  • ll9956

    A couple of days ago I commented that I was worried and in response to your prediction of a victory, “I sure hope your prediction is right, Art. I don’t want to even think of the mood around here if you’re wrong.” Am I ever glad you were right. Today we witnessed a miracle. I’m still trying to process it and pinching myself to make sure I’m not dreaming.

    This was by far the most miraculous sporting event I’ve ever seen.

    The Pats looked really tough against the Colts. There’s little doubt that the Hawks will have their hands full in two weeks.

    Go Hawks!

    • notaboomer

      Colts not that good.

      • Eric K

        Yeah, we now know how hurt Manning was, beating the Bengals and Broncos wasn’t impressive.

        Things could be a lot like last year in that the NFC is much tougher. Though Belechik is a much better coach than Fox so I worry about him with 2 weeks to scheme against the Hawks. Gronk is healthy and TEs gave given the Hawks problems this year.

        • art thiel

          True heavyweight match. Ali Frazier.

      • art thiel

        True dat.

    • art thiel

      Yeah, I did say Seahawks 30-23. I scripted it out too, just like it happened.

  • PokeyPuffy

    Weird game is right! I think beyond miscues on the field we were outcoached a bit. Letting Rodgers sit in the pocket with very little in the way of pass rush seems really odd. He picked us apart. And Green Bay defense dialed up some good pressure on us and kept us bottled up, just seems like we couldn’t figure it out.

    As much as people say Carrol gambled on the fake field goal, he was really just doing what was absolutely needed to keep us from completely losing touch of the game.

    The onsides kick and ensuing blitzkrieg scoring drive was so classic. For some (weird) reason it reminded me of Bird stealing the inbounds from Thomas in the 87 Finals, then flipping the turnover to a streaking Dennis Johnson. A stunning reversal.

    Anyhoo, another conference final doozy! Enjoyable for sure but seems like we’ve got alot of stuff to fix over the next few weeks…

    • Eric K

      Huh? Rogers only had 178 yards for the entire game and 58 of that was the last FG drive. The D held GB to 16 points off 4 turnovers with great field position in the 1st half and only 6 points in the 2nd half. The D kept them in the game

      • art thiel

        As I wrote, given the circumstances, it was their best game of the season. No. 1 offense had 1 touchdown, just like the Super Bowl.

    • art thiel

      As I said above, margins are thin, and players are not robots.

  • Boston Patriot

    What an improbable victory for the Seahawks. Congrats to Seattle and Green Bay. I just watched the Bostick locker room interview and feel sorry for him.
    I am a Patriot fan from way back. Back when they were called the Boston Patriots. I think New England will win, especially if the Seahawks play like they did today. Even if they clean up their game, injuries will prevent them from repeating. Go Pats.

    • notaboomer

      oh you were one of the noobs who left early.

      • art thiel

        And you held ground, nota?

        • notaboomer

          held ground in front of the tv. son said onside kick coming and i said they should kick deep and try for the stop. son was right. lots of high fiving at our house but thankfully no crotch grabs.

    • art thiel

      Injuries remain to be seen. With two weeks a healthy dose of toradol, strange things can happen.

  • David Rice

    Once again, Art Thiel completely misses the emotional tidal wave that found a way to win. Let go, Art. Feel the magnificence of the accomplishment.

    • notaboomer

      ooh rah. art’s a writer not a bandwagon jumper, thank dog.

    • art thiel

      I felt it, David. Sorry you missed.

  • Obi-jonKenobi

    I had the game recorded on my TiVo and after Wilson’s fourth interception, I just hit fast forward to get the game over with and thought, too bad they lost but now I can get on with taking care of the backlog of chores.

    And then I had to keep stopping and backing up as suddenly the Seahawks started . . . (gasp) . . . MAKING PLAYS!!

    I went back and watched it again and it was at the 3-minure mark that the Seahawks got the ball back on their own 40 yard line down 12 points and started their amazing comeback.

    • blue n green

      The two “goats” of the game combined for the winning TD. Say what?

      • art thiel

        Pro athletes can fall into badness very quickly and inexplicably. And recover just as fast. Margins are thin.

    • art thiel

      Wow. Your recorder goes into the future. Breaking news!

  • RunningRoy

    A truly epic playoff win for the ages.

    But I loved hearing about Baldwin’s Rant. Where’s Erin Andrews when we needed her? Russell also talked about non-believers during his tear-filled comments as the game ended. Who’s not believing? Will we still be hearing all this if the Hawks win five more Super Bowls in a row? Pete is really a masterful psychologist with his team.

    • Jamo57

      After seeing Andrews’ on field interview with Russell Wilson, I texted my son and said she’s gotten memorable interviews two years in a row at the Clink from the Hawks. All she had to do was stay out of the way. LOL. The passion Carroll has these guys playing with is remarkable.

      • art thiel

        Good point. Never seen a collection of personalities like these guys.

    • art thiel

      Doug is making stuff up as he goes. I was one of about three dozen reporters within a few feet of Doug, and I doubt one had done anything that Doug alleged. Still it was more funny than rude. But with three M F callouts, it was close.

  • notaboomer

    congrats, art, on two more weeks of seahawks drama to write about. woohoo go hawks.

    • art thiel

      Sometime, I’ll get out to UW hoops.

  • Gerald Turner

    Packer coach thought he did the right thing. After RW’s last INT the game stood at a 96% chance of packer victory (stat guys stats). But he missed one thing, the Seahawks can do more with a 4% chance of victory than any football team in history. Should have gone all Rogers out in the drive where he ran it. Just did not know his opponent. Had about 80 fans at the Seahawk fan club, one left with three minuets to go. At the time I thought his departure could be a good reverse jinx for us. And all the fans leaving the stadium must have snowballed into some kind of mighty reverse karmic murphy’s law. See long ago I quit watching and went upstairs during the Houston Oiler playoff game, thankfully I continued listing on the radio so I was able to run back downstairs shouting “They are blowing it, turn the TV back on!” Ever since then…

    • art thiel

      Can’t find much fault with fans who turned away. Defensive reaction to pain. Faith, in all its iterations, requires suspension of logic.

      • Kristafarian

        And this is why I like your work….
        Thanks, Art.

  • jafabian

    I feel for Green Bay TE Brandon Bostick, who’s taking a lot of heat for his mishandling of the on-sides kick. I recall a game that kicker Norm Johnson lost on a missed field goal and LB Rufus Porter defended him, saying “We aren’t the Seattle Norm Johnson’s. We never should have put him in that position in the first place.” It was as much of an incredible comeback by the champs as it was an epic collapse by the Packers.

    Looking at the box score, the Seahawks held a slight advantage in the statistics and it really didn’t feel like it. The Packers played not to lose in the second half and went ultra-conservative in the 4th quarter. As much as I doubted being able to come back there was a small part of me that held hope because of that conservative play.

    Big time shout to the LOB, especially Sherman and Thomas who manned up in this game. Earl playing the role of Martin Riggs of Lethal Weapon and popping his shoulder back into place and re-entering the game a short bit later and Sherman staying in after injuring his left arm. Even though he couldn’t use it Rodgers didn’t dare throw at him. So which team has the advantage in the Super Bowl? The Patriots who overwhelmed an overmatched opponent or the Seahawks who competed to the very end? Do they have enough in the tank for one more?

    Of course they do!

    • Mike Barnes

      Just make sure the footballs NE using are fully inflated.

      • art thiel

        The Belicheat stories begin anew . . .

    • art thiel

      On the stats, remember Seattle had an extra possession worth 87 yards, thanks to a coin flip.

  • Raymond Meyers

    I don’t feel bad for the Packers or their fans. They just experienced 57 minutes of what it feels like to be beating the best team in the NFL. I thought that was a pretty nice gift. Where’s the gratitude?

    • art thiel

      They are still a little tender about Fail Mary.

  • Jamo57

    I’m not sure, but I think “Doug’s In!”

  • Big

    When improbable is your only choice you make it work. Fun, fun, fun, unless it doesn’t get done. Way to go Hawks one of the greatest moments in SeaHawk history and a thrill for all 12′s.

  • Kevin Lynch

    “So foul and fair a day I have not seen”.

    All that was needed was for the Seahawks cheerleaders to turn into cackling hags and crawl out to midfield at halftime, down 16-0, and prophesy victory.

    Like I said last week, NFL playoffs are strange. One man’s God shows up, another man’s God doesn’t. Ballgame.

    One thing, the Hawks have to pay my brother Marshawn whatever he wants this offseason. If that guy walks he takes a significant part of the team with him.

    • Kristafarian

      Hey! He’s OUR brother too.

      • Kristafarian

        Go Beacon Plumbing!

        • art thiel

          He definitely cleared those drains.

          • Kristafarian

            We need ball caps.

      • Kevin Lynch

        Yes, he’s your brotha too but he’s got my last name! If I’m Marshawn I want three and thirty.

    • Diamond Mask

      well played sir.

    • Mike Barnes

      Marshawn, you don’t ever have to say a mumblin’ word, as far I’m concerned.

      • art thiel

        He thanks you.

    • art thiel

      Response of the day. Quoting Bill well. +1.

    • dinglenuts

      I was just going to upvote, but a written response is required.

      Nicely done, sir. Ballgame, indeed.

  • OaktownCoug

    A confession – I stopped watching after the first half. Was following the game but figured all that would happen was it would be close. My wife suggested I should watch the OT and I did. Still hard to believe but on to the Super Bowl.

    • art thiel

      Confession is good for the soul, Oak. But nobody is buying you a beer.

  • Its onlySports(DavidWakefield)

    Wow…after that KC loss in which Seattle seriously didn’t resemble our champs I was wondering what it was going to take to get the ship right~ had a fortune teller told me the next day we would make it to the NFC championship game I’d have been ready to exit the building.(as I move my chair to make an exit).

    But wait there’s more!Your heroes will find themselves down 16~0 at half.(UGH!)They struggle for 7 and need a Jon Ryan pass to score!(Jon Ryan?)Your enemy Green Bay scores too to make it 19~7.Then comes the 4th Qtr. the game is waning. All hope is suggesting doom. (sigh)Then in the span of 46 seconds the Seattle team scores twice aided by a TD score,successful onside kick, TD score and an almost impossible 2 point conversion!(We won?) No wait there’s more!
    They leave small time on the clock and Packers gather themselves to march down the field and kick goal. Tie it with 13 seconds.(huh? not leaving now).
    Go on….
    Just like Denver game Seattle wins coin flip in OT…as you will recall Bronco game was won with 80 yard drive with Manning stuck on sideline. This time 87yard drive with Rodgers helpless to do anything about his dashed chances for SuperBowl! YES! Hawks win! Sir?You fell off of your chair…you need help?
    Yesterday I did need help….

    Yah…stunning. Go Hawks!

    • art thiel

      Floor was crowded at the Clink too.

  • Mike Barnes

    And to think, on that wet Sunday, the Hawks did it all without using the new Belichick deflated football (Pat. pending).

  • John M

    Art, some of the best scribbles by you and your flock I’ve ever had the pleasure of, and I shall, with a nod to K. Lynch, butcher one: ‘There is more in heaven and Hawks, Aaron, than ye’s dremed in your most vile nightmares.’

    This was the most bizarre football game I’ve ever seen. The defense made it possible at the end by keeping the score low, and they showed us all how real their identity is. And what can you say about Russ? When he’s off is infects the whole offense. When he turns the switch to ON, everybody becomes pro-bowl. There is no one to compare him too. And yes, I love the mix of personalities and un-drafteds all pulling for each other. We’ve seen the worst in the past. This is the best . . .