BY Art Thiel 08:56PM 12/24/2017

Thiel: Seahawks’ smirk: Scoreboard, baby

In Dallas Sunday, the Seahawks won as absurdly as they lost at home against the Rams a week earlier. But no matter: They remain alive for the postseason.

QB Russell Wilson congratulates TE Jimmy Graham on his touchdown catch Sunday in Dallas. / Daniel Mogg, TraceMe

Being dead is no way to go through football life. After six days of that, the Seahawks stuck a hand up from the grave Sunday in Dallas and grabbed them some Cowboys. As with any zombie film, what it lacked in elegance it made up for in preposterousness.

If you had the courage to peek through your fingers, you saw a game that will be talked about in Seattle bars and coffee houses whenever the subject turns to two-headed calves, Salvador Dali paintings and Dr. Seuss books.

One of the wacky afternoon’s co-authors, coach Pete Carroll, offered an eloquent observation.

“There’s no stats for us on this day but the scoreboard,” he said. “That’s enough.”

The 21-12 triumph that ended the Cowboys’ playoff hopes and resuscitated the Seahawks’ flickering aspirations was more about what wasn’t, rather than what was. It wasn’t a continuance of seasonal free-fall, it wasn’t the end of the Carroll-era run, and it wasn’t the long-awaited offensive revival.

What it was, was one game’s survival. But after the 42-7 evisceration by the Rams in Seattle last week, survival counts as a magnum feat. Deck the freakin’ halls.

“To come in here Christmas week, it’s a nice present for everybody at home,” Carroll said. “Makes opening those packages a little sweeter.”

Most astonishing was the denial of a touchdown to the Cowboys, whom Carroll described as having “all the kind of firepower you want.” Six Cowboys possessions ended in field goal attempts (four made), three ended in turnovers. RB Ezekiel Elliott, the NFL’s rushing leader in 2016 who was presumed to be returning after a six-game suspension with a mad-on, had 97 yards on 24 carries, but only 24 on nine in the second half.

Apparently, two matters were responsible: The healthy returns of LBs Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright, and a teensy adjustment on the defensive line.

“We were a little high at the line of scrimmage,” Carroll said of the linemen’s crouches. “We were getting knocked around a little bit because we were up. We needed to get our pad levels down, going back to fundamentals.

“Coaches were on it, and the players responded. (The Cowboys) went from gains of five and six (yards) to three and four.”

Then Carroll gushed about the work of his veteran linebackers.

“For Bobby to being playing today is a heroic thing,” he said. “He’s had to adapt his play because of his hamstring. The last two weeks have been heroic, and emblematic of what he’s done for years.

“K.J. was sick all weekend. He didn’t get out of bed all day (Saturday). Those guys played like crazy.”

Aiding the defense immeasurably were key plays from lesser lights. CB Byron Maxwell has a maneuver that is his mark of Zorro — a short, powerful punch at the football in the possession of a receiver.

In the second quarter, after an eight-yard completion to volatile WR Dez Bryant, Maxwell’s stand-up blow separated Bryant from the ball. Wright recovered and the Seahawks’ feeble offense moved 43 yards in five plays, scoring on a three-yard pass to TE Jimmy Graham for a 7-6 lead.

The second touchdown came from CB Justin Coleman, who, amid some criticism over GM John Schneider’s personnel decisions over the past few years, has been a standout among the newbies, arriving from New England for a seventh-round draft pick.

He made a knee-high interception of a pressured pass by QB Dak Prescott and returned it 30 yards for a score, his second pick-six of the season.

Said Carroll: “He’s been terrific for us all year.”

Later in the third, a Wright interception of a tipped ball set up the Seahawks for their only big drive of the game — 79 yards in 13 plays over 6½ minutes. For the touchdown and a 21-12 lead, Wilson tossed a six-yard pass to WR Doug Baldwin, whose burst off the line of scrimmage to get open left only a Roadrunner-shaped dust cloud in front of the helpless defensive back.

An enduring legacy of the game will be one of mockery — the Seahawks had 142 yards in penalties and 136 yards of total offense. Not since 1966 has the NFL seen a team win a game with fewer offensive yards than penalties.

It is not the sort of deed upon which a Super Bowl run is built. But it didn’t prevent the Seahawks from making next week’s game against 7-8 Arizona relevant.

Late Sunday night, the start of Carolina’s game at Atlanta was flexed by the NFL to coincide with the Seahawks’ 1:25 p.m. PT home start against Arizona. The games will decide the NFC’s sixth and final playoff seed.

Seattle, a seven-point favorite to beat Arizona, hopes the Panthers, a three-point favorite, beat Atlanta. Carolina can be seeded anywhere from second to fifth based on Sunday’s outcomes, so they have high stakes as well.

If those two outcomes occur, the Seahawks will get the final wild card spot. If one or one none happen, Seattle is done.

Having hit a half-court heave in Dallas, the Seahawks know what long shots look like. Neither outcome next Sunday is a long shot, and both will play out simultaneously.

For a weekend that looked for 12s to be football-dreary a week ago, New Year’s Eve will be an entertainment unique in the Carroll era. This time, winning one scoreboard won’t be enough.

Thomas says to Cowboys coach, “come get me” (just not right now)

FS Earl Thomas offered up another of his odd buzz-kills post-game, suggesting to Cowboys coach Jason Garrett that the Cowboys “come get me” if the Seahawks’ Pro Bowl free safety  were to become available.

Cameras caught Thomas running after Garrett and saying to him, “If y’all have the chance, come get me.”

Thomas is a native of Texas and grew up a Cowboys fan, but in the locker room afterward tried to walk back his remark, which he didn’t deny making.

“We had a great win,” Thomas told reporters. “I feel like we played lights out. Just emotional. I went to the locker room to talk to (Cowboys WR Dez Bryant) and I saw coach Garrett. I’ve always been a Cowboys fan growing up. But the biggest thing when I say ‘come get me’ is, I don’t literally mean like, ‘come get me now.’

“I’m still in the prime of my career. I still want to be here, but when Seattle kicks me to the curb, please — the Cowboys — come get me. That’s the only place I would rather be if I get kicked to the curb. So that’s what I meant by it. People take life too serious. That’s just who I am.”

It is true that is who Thomas is. He tends to blurt when others would be cautious. Remember after he broke his leg last year, he tweeted about retirement? Thomas lives in a world with few filters, which on one hand, is refreshing. On the other hand, his curious blurts leave coaches, teammates, friends and family puzzled and apprehensive.

A former No. 1 draft pick in 2010, Thomas, 28, appears to be angling for a contract extension from Seattle. He signed a $40 million, four-year deal that runs out after 2018. Speculation has been rampant that the Seahawks will have to re-tool the Legion of Boom because of age, injuries and salary-cap problems. Whether they can afford to extend Thomas is an unresolved question.

Asked if he felt unwanted in Seattle, Thomas said, laughing, “I don’t know. But if they don’t, you know, please come get me.

“I’m happy here. I love being here. This is where I started. I built my résumé here. I don’t want to leave.”


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YourThoughts

  • wabubba67

    It’s not often that a team comes out ahead after dealing with the Patriots. John Schneider managed to do it twice this year:
    1) Cassius Marsh for a #4 and a #7.
    2.) Justin Coleman for a #7.

    Essentially, the Seahawks turned Cassius Marsh (since released) into Justin Coleman AND a 4th round draft pick. That’s pretty incredible.

    • Ron

      What if John Schneider had saved the money he wasted on Eddie Lacy, and instead used it to resign Steven Hauschka? We would have two fewer losses and wouldn’t be praying for the Falcons to lose.

      • Chris Alexander

        Hausch-Money leaving has definitely cost us this season but Lacy is really only a bad move in hindsight. Admittedly, the $ spent on him would have been nice to have during the season; in addition to keeping Hausch (and saving us all from the Blair Walsh roller coaster or horrors), we could have also kept Dwight Freeney and who knows what else.

        Need a win next week. Go Hawks!

        • wabubba67

          I didn’t, and still don’t, understand the need to pay McDowell every penny of his signing bonus. As an NFI (Non Football Injury), the Seahawks could have used any portion of his signing bonus and applied it to the salary cap…which meant that they could have kept Freeney or placed Kam on IR earlier and gotten a replacement on the roster.
          It’s not as if McDowell was in a car accident through no fault of his own. Our #1 draft pick decided to recklessly ride an ATV and put his career, and the Seahawks’ season, at risk. Assuming that the team and his agent spoke with him regarding his behavior after signing the contract, I would have made an example out of him.

          • art thiel

            There’s more to this story than we know, but the Seahawks are keeping a tight lid on it.

          • Ron

            Don’t tell me that the Hawks gave him the ATV as a signing gift.

        • art thiel

          Not Schneider’s best off-season.

          • jafabian

            And they cut Alex Collins too.

          • wabubba67

            Dime a dozen talent in the NFL. Honestly, I would rather have Davis than Collins.

          • jafabian

            But would you rather have Lacy over Collins?

          • wabubba67

            See above. Fix the offensive line first. Lacy didn’t cost them that much in salary, but it was a worthless acquisition without an adequate line. Getting Joeckel for $8 million is more offensive to me. Missing out on Lang hurt. Love Brown and hope they keep him long term.

            If I had a choice, next year’s offensive line would look like this (left to right):
            Brown-Ifedi (not nearly quick enough to be a RT)-Britt-Pocic-Fant.

            I could live with that line (assuming all stay healthy). Need quality, veteran depth and one more stud at either LG/RG would be nice, too.

          • PompousTwerp

            I love how Fant gets plugged in like he’s some kind of known quantity. He’s made 10 career starts and never played right tackle. Sounds like just what the Seahawks need.

          • wabubba67

            I get what you are writing, Pompous. I was impressed by Fant’s improvement after being put in a horrific situation last year…and his play before being hurt this year. If completely healthy, he would be a significant upgrade compared to Ifedi.

          • jafabian

            Considering Collins is closing in on 900 yards rushing I’d take him over any of the Seahawks RB’s.

          • wabubba67

            It has to do with the offensive line, not the RBs. Collins is a good, but not great, RB…just like Rawls, Lacy, Procise, McKissic. (Carson is the only one of the bunch that has eye popping talent. Hopefully, he comes back completely healthy next year.)

          • Chris Alexander

            I would prefer any RB on our roster, with the exception of Lacy, over Collins. Yes, he’s doing well on another team but he would have never done that here. And not just because of our O-Line; dude doesn’t have the discipline that’s needed to play RB on a Pete Carroll team.

      • art thiel

        How about paying Joeckel less than the $7M he received coming off major knee surgery? It’s never been clear there was a hot market for his services.

        • Ron

          My guess is we have to pay more for offensive lineman because of our reputation as a place where they come to die. Just like Cleveland has a reputation as the place where quarterbacks go to die.

        • Bruce McDermott

          I thought it was $8M… :) Either way, if they re-sign that dude for anything like that kind of money, they would confirm their fantasy-world approach to OL play…

        • The last couple of years of stuffing money in the defense has been deleterious to the offensive line. I don’t remember which game this year or last that Russell Wilson didn’t spend the game running for his life in the offensive backfield. We need a veteran or two and some young studs to grow into Jones and Hutch clones.

    • art thiel

      Doesn’t quite shadow the McDowell pick, but it’s something.

  • Kevin Lynch

    Good effort by the Hawks defense. Pathetic meltdown by the Cowboys offense. You needed both. Good chance Not-So-Hot Lanta will once again fail to mount an offensive charge next week with Steve ‘Hit-Me-Again’ Sarkesian in control of a destructing offense. The Hawks are now likely for the playoffs. But on the road, which has been bad news in the past.

    • art thiel

      At this point, altered reality may be more reliable than standard.

  • Husky73

    Stellar reporting and writing, Art. A+

    • art thiel

      Thanks, kind sir.

  • Chris Alexander

    Hey, Art … the NFL flexed all the relevant NFC games to the later start time. Now Arizona at Seattle, New Orleans at Tampa Bay, and Carolina at Atlanta all kick off together.

    • art thiel

      Fixed. Saw that this morning. How dare I finish my column and think I could have two hours of Christmas Eve to myself.

      I do believe Potter in “It’s a Wonderful Life” is Goodell’s hero.

  • Michael Galey

    Once again I was duped to thinking this was the stake to the heart of my much loved Hawks in the first half. Turning 710 on the PC I listen as the Rabile went nutz with some of the antics in the second half so I dared to watch just what is all this hyper former Seahawk (#83) was a hollering about. Just in time to see a DB jump into a huge Salvation Army kettle then getting the kettle walloped by an over joyed DE!! Christmas gift early!! JOY NOEL!! Now let’s see IF Carolina’s super stud QB bring us a new year’s post season revival. Merry Christmas Art, and a Blessed New Year to come.

    • art thiel

      Thanks, Michael. Glad you got what you wanted on Chirstmas Eve.

  • PokeyPuff

    of course i’m pulling for the hawks! but IF we scrap and fight and beat the Cards and IF the Falcons lose a meaningful game against a potentially unmotivated Carolina team THEN we’ll have earned ourselves a rematch with the……….Rams

    • art thiel

      Why not play the Rams? Talk about motivation . . .

    • Bruce McDermott

      Carolina will be motivated, if they know what is good for them. The difference between a 2 and a 5 seed could be quite important…

      • art thiel

        CAR and ATL each have big stakes. No slack in that game, which is fortunate for SEA.

      • Chris Alexander

        While technically true that Carolina could get the 2 seed, the stars that need to align for that are significant – i.e. they have to beat Atlanta and the Vikings, Saints, and Rams all have to lose. Not 100% sure why the Rams are in the mix but that’s the only scenario that results in the Panthers getting the #2 seed.

        That said, if they win and the Saints lose, they capture the NFC South title and get a home game vs. ending up on the road in the wild card round. So Carolina will still be motivated to win and, yes, the possibility of getting a first round bye plays into that but my guess is that they are much more focused on the more attainable goal of winning their division.

    • Studying some film and preparing properly is all that needs to happen for the Hawks to beat the Rams. They’re not that scary.

      • art thiel

        I think the Rams are scary, but they haven’t been here before. That’s not enough to balance their superior talent, but it’s something, especially regarding Goff.

        • Truth. Seattle has been in the playoffs every year of some of these guys’ whole careers, and two Super Bowls. There’s a championship mindset in that locker room that makes them just a smidgen harder to beat when the heat is on.

    • A #2 seed gets a bye week to rest and prepare, a #5 seed has to play a wild card game – an extra chance for elimination and injury before the Conference Championship. If that’s not motivating, what else could they need? A lollipop for not crying?

      • art thiel

        See response abvove.

  • jafabian

    Can a player do what Earl did? Seek out a team while under contract with one team and declare his desire to join another? If the Cowboys declared publicly that they were going to open negotiations with Earl when his contract is up in a year that would be construed as tampering. I don’t see why the same can’t be held true in reverse. Being in the league as long as he’s been I’m surprised Earl didn’t have his agent contact one of his clients on the Cowboys and quietly pass his desire to join them to Jerry Jones. Disappointed in Earl but not surprised.

    • art thiel

      The league will have something to say about this. It was hardly a negotiation but it was foolish. I also think the Seahawks may have to fine him, although that would awkward as hell on the eve of another important game.

      • wabubba67

        Also on the eve of potential renegotiations (after the 2017 season), a fine is likely to be absolutely meaningless.

        • art thiel

          A fine is intended to discourage others from repeating the deed.

          • wabubba67

            I get that. My point is that any fine will likely be negotiated away with the next contract. A suspension (and corresponding game check) would be more meaningful for a game, but we all know that this week v. the Cardinals is a must win. I’m guessing that Paul Allen is in no mood to spite his own face?

          • jafabian

            The Hawks had Bennett call out Paul Allen on live TV to pay Chancellor saying “Pay him, pay him. Paul Allen’s the 17th-richest man in the world. Pay him.” Some teams would fined him but the Hawks didn’t. If Bennett did his homework typically team owners keep their fnances separate from the team. I’m assuming they will treat Earl the same unless their discussion with him isn’t productive.

          • John M

            It isn’t about Paul Allen’s money ja, it’s about the Cap. He will listen to what Schneider and Carroll think is the practical course . . .

      • jafabian

        At the very least it’s disrespectful to your employer though the club seems to be fairly thick skinned. Still I think they need to address he matter with him. Earl will be in for a surprise on what employer/employee relations are like outside the NFL when he retires, unless he stays in the league as a coach.

        • art thiel

          Everyone who leaves the NFL — coach, player, staffer — is dismayed when they find out what the real world is like.

  • ll9956

    This isn’t exactly revenant to the subject at hand, but I absolutely cannot understand why NFL teams are limited to 46 active players on game day. To my way of thinking, all 53 should be allowed to be active. The teams presumably still have to pay them, so why not let them all be active. I’m amazed the Player Association doesn’t fight this.

    • jafabian

      Pete Caroll has said the NFL should dump the Practice Squad and just expand rosters.

      • art thiel

        Of course he did. He’s a coach. He’s not an owner.

    • art thiel

      They have. But some players have game-appearance bonuses, like Eddie Lacy. If he’s inactive, the Seahawks save $62,500. That doesn’t seem like much, but the owners rarely want to give up an opportunity to not pay some salaries, however small. If the players want to give back a percentage of their overall take, owners would consider the 53-man game-day roster. But players won’t do it.

  • “Deck the freakin’ halls.” I saw what you did there. I agree. That game wasn’t terribly fun to watch. Kind of a clusterfreak. The result was good though. And I agree. The only stat that matters at the end of the discussion, is W’s (of course spending several minutes deciding whether to put an apostrophe in Ws indicates some kind of imbalance). Another fine game assessment, Mr. Thiel.

    • art thiel

      Thanks.

      Actually, no apostrophe needed. Ws is plural, not possessive.

      • John M

        Good take, Art, and I liked Ray’s comments. You snapped my head around with the plural, though now the Hawks possess it; or them; it depends . . .

  • Steed

    Squashing the cowboys playoff hopes, in their zillion dollar stadium with a pointless hole in the roof, in front of their face lift enhanced ancient owner, after their star running back returned, was really a beautiful thing to see.

    After Elliot predicted he would run for 200 yards against the Seahawks, I knew the defense would show up. But they did a lot better than just show up. It was great to see them flummox the Cowboys offense. Yes, flummox.

    The Seahawks have a great chance to make the playoffs for the 6th year in a row. Nobody other than the Patriots has done that recently. It’s a decent outcome for a season that was a big mess.

    The NFC West is going to be good again next season, I hope the Seahawks can keep up.