As the local TV folk breathlessly noted, The Big Storm of The Season blew through Seattle Monday, Nov. 12. Later, a few TV types, upon doffing their FEMA gear and hyperbole, added that ESPN and all its Monday Night Football resources then blew away, leaving lights out, parties over, and a National Football League NFC West Division looking like Galveston after the 1900 hurricane (a real storm, as opposed to Monday's seasonal weather, over-emphasized for TV ratings). In other words, the Seattle Seahawks' division, combined record 12-24, has massive power outages and limited hope for recovery any time soon.
Yes, after the 24-0 dispatching of the San Francisco 49ers (2-7), the 5-4 Seattle Seahawks lead the division by a whole game. It's like being ahead in a stampede of lemmings. The Hawks showed the world a capable passing attack but a limited ground game. Maurice Morris stepped in for the injured/ineffective Shaun Alexander. The back-up back managed 87 yards, but that required 28 carries. About the best that can be said about the running game is that it eats a lot of time. Seattle had the ball for precisely two thirds of the game, and the moribund 49ers managed just 173 yards and six first downs during their 20 minutes on offense.
Does it mean the Hawks' middlin' season is hitting a second-half ascent? Optimists and idiots might say so. In fact, even a reasonable performance during the seven remaining regular-season games would leave the inevitable NFC West Chumps at the mercy of at least three playoff teams (Dallas, Green Bay, New York) that could and probably would clock-clean the Seahawks on the other teams' home turf. Put it this way: Given what you know and feel about this 32nd version of the Seahawks, do you really believe they'd win a playoff game this season?
Fortunately, they don't have to. Just getting through the regular season at maybe 9-7 may suffice for fans who can anticipate better seasons ahead. Look for another commendable effort Sunday, Nov. 18, at home against a Bears team Seattle should've beaten in Chicago during the playoffs last January. Then comes perhaps the most telling test of the season, when the locals travel to St. Louis to face what could by then be a 1-9 version of the Rams. A loss there followed by another the next week in Philly, and your Hee-Hawks would be back at .500 again, facing their final division tiff Dec. 9 with Arizona (4-5).
Yeah, but let's look at the positive here. Deion Branch, sidelined with a bad tootsie, could be back soon. That would give Matt Hasselbeck yet another talented target, not that he necessarily needed one Monday, completing 27 of 40 for 278 yards. His primary guy was D.J. Hackett, himself an injury casualty until recently. With eight grabs, Hackett proved he's back to being a reliable possession receiver, opening opportunities for Bobby Engram and Nate Burleson, who each had four receptions. Unlike Alexander, Morris also can catch a pass or three, as he did Monday.
The risk, speaking of Morris, is that the team is now just one bad break from having no running game at all. Morris isn't exactly an iron man. His absence had a lot to do with the Hawks' slow start this season.
On the other hand, the region did manage to weather the worst windstorm of the, uh, week with hardly even an acknowledgment from the MNF announcers (who, as always, dutifully implied that Seattle is the only place in the world where people drink coffee and buy salmon). Maybe it's time for the football team to pick up a road win, or several, emerge the clear winner of the worst division in league history, and settle in for a competitive postseason. Howzat for optimism/idiocy?