The Seattle Seahawks defeated the St. Louis Rams 20-6 in Week 17. More than that, they laid claim to the division title that a mere month earlier seemed destined to belong to others.
They overcame all the naysayers and negative people who said they didn't have it in them to repeat. They overcame those that believe in superstitious "Super Bowl Winner" curses. Most importantly, they overcame all of the adversity that was heaped upon them throughout the season.
Injuries took a lot out of this team early in the season, but were overcome. Penalties caused repeated setbacks during the games. The Seahawks led the league in penalties again this year. And again, they were overcome.
The 2013 season seemed like a gift from the football gods. Everything seemingly went this team's way last season en route to the first Super Bowl victory. I could sense something very special was happening, and I enjoyed the ride very much. The quick start made the enjoyment possible.
This season was a different story.
After jumping out to a 3-1 start, the Seahawks struggled mightily to a 3-3 record, losing back-to-back games to the Cowboys and these very same Rams. Between those two games, the team traded away their high-profile wide receiver Percy Harvin.
I was not surprised to see the team lose at St. Louis that week. A shake-up of personnel tends to have that type of effect. I don't think anybody saw that coming. But it was exactly what the team needed.
Post-trade, the Seahawks went 9-1. The lone loss came in Kansas City against a team that exploited the missing pieces of the Legion of Boom. Bobby Wagner and Kam Chancellor proved just how valuable they are to this defense over the next six weeks.
Kansas City ran for nearly 200 yards that day. After the return of Wagner and Chancellor, opponents averaged a mere 66 yards per game on the ground, making the opponents one-dimensional, and allowing the defensive line to tee off on opposing quarterbacks.
The turnaround this team experienced over the past 10 weeks of play has been phenomenal, and has those same doubting pundits now questioning if this defense is the greatest of all time.
There is no doubt in my mind it is. And there is more yet to come this year, and for several years down the road. The recent signings of K.J. Wright and Cliff Avril to long-term deals ensures that the core players of the Legion of Boom will remain intact for at least two more seasons. That is bad news for opponents.
The Week 17 game against the Rams was a difficult game to watch through the first half, as the offense continually shot itself in the foot. Two turnovers allowed the Rams to eke out a 6-0 halftime lead. But even with that score, the Rams had only mustered about 60 yards of offense by the half.
The second half saw enough offense from Russell Wilson, Marshawn Lynch, and rookie wide receiver Paul Richardson to stake the team to a 13-6 lead early in the fourth quarter. Then the Legion lowered the Boom. Wagner broke up a pass intended for Rams tight end Lance Kendricks, the ball landed in Bruce Irvin's hands, and Irvin raced nearly 50 yards for a pick-six.
The Rams mounted a valiant comeback drive following the Irvin interception, only to see the Boom lowered again, this time by Earl Thomas, who stripped the ball from Rams running back Benny Cunningham mere inches from the goal line. The ball fumbled forward into the end zone and out of play along the sideline for a touchback, effectively ending any thoughts the Rams may have had of getting back in the game.
As the game clock wound down, the crowd built up, sensing the Seahawks were claiming their third division title in five years under Pete Carroll. What Carroll and general manager John Schneider have accomplished with this franchise leaves me awestruck. After being mired in mediocrity for the nearly forty years of this franchise's history, these two have built a perennial powerhouse; a team for the ages.
So enjoy this run, Seahawks fans. We all know too well how fleeting it can be.
Congratulations to the 2014 Seattle Seahawks, NFC West champions, and No. 1 seed in the NFC playoff picture. They made up a three-game deficit in the final six weeks. That is practically unheard of in the NFL. And while it did take some misfortune on another's part to achieve that, this team played through its share of its own misfortune.
The team has earned this bye week. Enjoy it, fellas, and come out on Jan. 10 with the fire of a champion.
All of us 12s will be right behind you.
Photos of the 12s during their appreciation day, cheering the Seahawks on.