56baa6478971bc41a4152cc51707ac05Well Hawks fans, here we are…the 17 week, regular NFL season has flashed by and the playoffs are already upon us. It’s an exciting time for us twelfth men and women[1] in Seattle because our home town Seahawks have accomplished all of their regular season goals. They have won the toughest division in the NFL, the NFC West division, with 13 wins and only 3 losses; a record which is tied for the best in the NFL this season (the Denver Broncos also went 13-3), which IS the best in the NFC and which matches that great 2005 Seahawks Super Bowl squad for the best record in team history. By virtue of their top NFC record Seattle accomplished two other important goals as well; the first being that they get to sit out Wild Card [2] weekend and thus get an extra week of practice and rest; and the second being that they get to play all of their playoff games except the Super Bowl, should they get that far, in the friendly confines of CenturyLink Field in front of us rabid twelves.

And…with the results in from the first of the Wild Card playoff games this weekend, we already know that it will be Drew Brees and his New Orleans Saints returning to Seattle next Saturday as the first obstacle in what the Seahawks hope will be a drive to the Meadowlands [3] in February. The Saints earned that right by defeating the Philadelphia Eagles yesterday on a last second field goal 26-24, and that they did it on the road in the cold of Philadelphia gives them hope. Hawks fans will vividly recall the 34-7 thrashing Seattle administered to the Saints the last time they visited the Emerald City some 5 weeks ago. For the Saints it wasn’t pretty and continued a pattern of not playing well against good teams on the road. In fact, during their entire history, the Saints, until yesterday, had NEVER won a playoff game on the road, unless you count the Super Bowl when they won it a few years back.

Seahawks defensive end Red Bryant

Seahawks defensive end Red Bryant

This looks like the perfect match up for Seattle’s first playoff game, so if we aren’t already, it’s time for us Hawks fans to get excited. We aren’t burdened by the need to adhere to “Pete Carroll speak” like the Seahawks players are. To listen to them this upcoming playoff game is just one more championship opportunity, like each game on every Sunday is. It’s just another chance to go 1-0 for the week, like they try to do each week. To them, they will say, this game is no bigger and no smaller than any other game they have played this season. Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll has decreed it so and has been “dinging in” [4] these maxims to his players since he took over the team 4 years ago. He wants his players to view each week as a championship game because he doesn’t want them to view one game as bigger than another. He wants his players free and loose and he knows that when they conceive of a game as bigger or more important than others it can make them tight and afraid to fail, and he knows that players are not at their best in that frame of mind. So, to him and his team, every game is a championship game…that way it’s normal.

It does make a weird kind of sense and the players seem to have bought into it. Listen to any Russell Wilson interview and he speaks like this all the time. A recent comment he made typifies it: “That 1-and-0 mentality is alive for us…,” he said, “we just need to keep that going. I think the way we practice and the way we prepare really separates us from everybody else, and we have to make sure that we keep doing that.”

Seahawks All Pro safety Earl Thomas

Seahawks All Pro safety Earl Thomas

You can hear Carroll’s maxims woven into the comments of other players, like defensive end Red Bryant. In a recent interview, when asked about how the Seahawks will approach this upcoming playoff game, he responded, “From preseason to regular season to the playoff game, we’re not going to switch up in terms of who we are and what we’re about. Whoever we end up playing, we’ll prepare like we always do. We’ll respect our opponent and we’ll definitely make it as hard as possible on them by playing our game.” 

In answering a similar question All Pro safety Earl Thomas reflected the Carroll mantra: “It’s all about yourself, it’s all about you,” he said. “When you’re confident, you play confident, no matter who you’re playing. Everybody is the same. I think it’s who prepares well, and I think we prepare better than anybody…”

As you can see, from what Carroll and the players are saying, this upcoming playoff game against the Saints is just another championship opportunity in the string of championship opportunities that is the NFL season, and they will approach it the same they always have. Does that mean they aren’t excited? No, but it does mean that theirs is a measured excitement, tempered with the discipline of practice and preparation, and the realization that, if they play their best, they cannot be beaten. It almost makes these Hawks players seem bored sometimes.

We twelves, however, are under no such restrictions. It’s the playoffs, baby, and the Saints are coming! So go ahead, let it rip Hawks fans, and get excited; in six days we have to be ready!

We will be!

Go Hawks!

Copyright © 2013

By Mark Arnold

All Rights Reserved

[1] The rabid Seattle Seahawks fans have been for years, going back to the old Kingdome, referred to as “The Twelfth Man”, there being eleven players for a team on the field at any given time. The term is an acknowledgement of the impact these fans often create on the game in terms of noise, false start penalties on the opponent and so on. It is a tradition at Seahawks home games to raise the Twelfth Man flag before every game.

[2] In the NFL playoff format 6 teams make the playoffs from each of the NFC and AFC: the winners of the 4 divisions in each conference and also the two teams with the next best records. These two teams are called “Wild Card” teams. The first weekend of the playoffs is termed “Wild Card Weekend” and pits the wild card teams of each conference against the two divisional winners of each conference with the least best records; the divisional winners with the best records getting a bye for that weekend as a reward for their regular season superior record. The winners of these games advance to the second weekend of the playoffs.

[3] This year the Super Bowl will be played at the home stadium of the New York Football Giants; “MetLife Stadium” at “The Meadowlands Sports Complex” in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The game, the 48th Super Bowl in NFL history, will be on February 2nd.

[4] To “ding in” simply means to repeat something over and over in order to get it across to a person or group and understood by them.

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2 Responses to Time to Get Excited: It’s the Playoffs and the Saints are Comin’!—by Mark Arnold

  1. Colleen says:

    GO Hawks… It’s your time!!!

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