Some football games resemble wild rollercoaster rides.
When the Seattle Seahawks hosted the Arizona Cardinals at CenturyLink Field this past Sunday, the game provided all that and more. The Cardinals prevailed 39-32 in a game that featured all of the free-falls, rises to the top, heart-stopping changes of direction, and maybe a bit of nausea.
After a first quarter that resembled the slow-clanking climb to the top of the first high point on a coaster, the Cardinals scored often in the second quarter, resulting in the Seahawks' free-fall to a 19-0 deficit. After a Cardinals field goal and a safety on the Seahawks, Carson Palmer connected on two deep passes for touchdowns to make Seahawks fans think the bottom of the track would never come.
But then the Seahawks started rising. After a few twists and turns in the track, and a couple more clankey-chain climbs, the Seahawks found themselves within striking distance entering the fourth quarter. Will Tukuafu scored on a fullback dive from one yard out before the half, and Russell Wilson found Doug Baldwin for a 32 yard strike late in the third quarter.
Entering the fourth quarter trailing 25-17, the Seahawks' defense provided the thrills of the loop-de-loop and corkscrew in the coaster's track. Cliff Avril forced a Palmer fumble, recovered by K.J. Wright at the three-yard line. Marshawn Lynch powered to pay dirt on the next play, pulling the Seahawks within two (their two-point conversion failed).
Seahawks fans felt the rush of making it through the loop-de-loop. They had no idea the corkscrew was coming. That was provided by Wright stripping the ball from Palmer's hands. It was picked up and returned 22 yards by Bobby Wagner for a touchdown, giving the Seahawks an improbable 29-25 lead early in the fourth quarter.
As with all rollercoasters, inevitably the ride comes to an end. Palmer ratcheted up the Cardinals' offense to act as the chain that inevitably slows the ride. Palmer marched the redbirds 83 yards, connecting on an all-too-familiar-looking pass to his tight end in the end zone to put the Cardinals in front for good.
After the Seahawks' offense failed to answer, the Cardinals' Andre Ellington acted as the brake man on the coaster, stopping the Seahawks' car dead in its tracks with a 48-yard run to bring the ride to an end.
I'm sure both teams' fans experienced the thrill of the ride, but it was the Seahawks' fans feeling nauseous at the conclusion, as if they'd had too many garlic fries and Ivar's clam chowder (maybe with a couple of microbrews thrown in for good measure) just before the ride.
The rollercoaster metaphor also fits into how this season has progressed to date. Slow out of the gate, a couple of wins to give us fans a slow climb, then another drop off, another slow climb, and lastly, it seems, a precipitous drop-off.
There is still plenty of track left. At 4-5, the Seahawks are not out of the playoff hunt, but they are definitely outside looking in at this point. The team needs to practically win out to have a realistic chance; maybe one loss. There is little margin for error.
I certainly hope they can give us a thrilling ride through the second half of the season. It certainly did start with a big drop-off. Perhaps they can muster up one more long, slow climb. The clickety-clack of the chain pulling them up starts next week against the 49ers.
Who knows, after a couple of more loop-de-loops and corkscrews, we will find ourselves on the ride of our lives…
As always, the 12s came out to support the Seahawks during an exciting Sunday Night Football game versus the Arizona Cardinals and were 69,005 strong.