Note: I haven’t been commenting much on the Seattle Seahawks so far this season. With the year ending injuries to key defensive stars Cliff Avril, Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor, plus the problems with the offensive line and the running game, I have been, more or less, in “wait and see” mode as regards this […]Read the Rest →
Mention “The Catch” to any knowledgeable football fan who has been around a while and they will immediately know what you are talking about. Give them a minute and they will tell you all about San Francisco 49ers receiver Dwight Clark’s leaping grab of a Joe Montana pass in the rear of the end zone in the 1982 NFC Championship game against the Dallas Cowboys following the 1981 season. The play took place with less than a minute left in the game and gave the 49ers a 28-27 lead they would not surrender. As a result of Clark’s catch the 49ers became the NFC champions, ended the era of the Dallas Cowboys as the dominating team in the NFC and inaugurated the era of the San Francisco 49ers. Commencing with the ’82 Super Bowl and across the next 8 seasons Montana and the 49ers would win 4 Super Bowl championships, and Clark’s catch would go down in 49ers and NFL lore, forever to be known as “The Catch”.
I don’t want to rain on anyone’s NFL history parade, but the truth is that Dwight Clark’s “catch” became “The Catch” not so much because of the greatness of that one play, but because of the greatness of what the 49ers did in that first ’82 Super Bowl and the seasons following. Had they not added those 4 Super Bowl wins, Clark’s end zone grab would have been nothing more than a nice play in that one game and not the iconic NFL history moment it is now regarded as.
I bring this up because as I was watching Richard Sherman deflect for an interception Colin Kaepernik’s pass to Michael Crabtree in the end zone with 25 seconds left during this year’s NFC Championship game between the Seattle Seahawks and the 49ers, what I immediately thought of was the possibility that Sherman’s play could end up becoming Seattle’s version of “The Catch”. Already the play has been dubbed by some as “The Immaculate Deflection”, a take-off on a another historic play from an earlier NFL era, Pittsburgh Steelers running back Franco Harris’s “Immaculate Reception” scoring play on a deflected Terry Bradshaw pass during a 1972 Steelers-Oakland Raiders playoff game. An artist friend of mine has already produced an impressionistic painting of Sherman tipping the ball away from Crabtree entitled “Not In Our House” and is selling the prints. (Of course I have already scored an artist autographed copy) Add to these the fact that Seattle was victorious over Denver in the Super Bowl and Sherman’s play, like Clark’s catch in ’82, takes on greater significance as the play at the end of NFC championship game that served as Seattle’s springboard to a Super Bowl championship.
As great as Sherman’s play was, it will only arrive at “The Catch” status if the Seahawks go on and win 2 or 3 more Super Bowls over the next few years. Already NFL talking heads on Fox and ESPN have been debating the possibility of a Seahawks dynasty, mostly because of Seattle’s great defense. Due to the NFL’s current salary cap restrictions, something that did not exist during the 49ers’ Joe Montana era, it will be very difficult for Seattle to do this. The salary cap regulations make it virtually impossible for a team to keep all of the players it develops. That said, Seattle is a young team and still has a year or two left before Russell Wilson, Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas have to be paid the millions they will be worth as free agents on the open NFL market. As a result, with Pete Carroll and John Schneider at the helm calling the personnel shots and Carroll’s coaching philosophy in full vigor, it is just possible that the Seahawks have such a run in them. If they do, look for Sherman’s “Immaculate Deflection” 20 years hence to be regarded with the same reverential awe as Harris’s “Immaculate Reception” and Dwight Clark’s “The Catch”.
No matter how all of this washes out, we Seahawks fans can savor the fact that at long last our team has broken through to the NFL’s rarefied heights and will forever be regarded as the best football team in the world for at least this brief 2013 window. For just how long the Seahawks will be able to extend that window remains to be seen, but it will be fun to find out.
I can hardly wait for next season!
Copyright © 2014
By Mark Arnold
All Rights Reserved