When I saw Jeff Triplette would be our official for the day, I was mortified. So much was riding on this game; an NFC Championship, first seed, first round bye, and Triplette is not known for his competence by pretty much any fan base. And oh, he lived up to his reputation. Fortunately he was awful on both sides, so in the end, it didn't really matter. He ejected a Rams player for accidental contact on an official. The Seahawks got away with at least one false start, and a few holds. He blew a play dead that shouldn't have been blown dead, costing the Seahawks an easy touchdown and possibly a tight end (Luke Willson went down with a high ankle sprain in the following play, when he otherwise wouldn't have been on the field.) After like 20 minutes of officials discussing it, he somehow decided that three fouls (running into the punter, holding, and a personal foul) on one team were offset entirely by one personal foul by the other team. I'm still trying to figure out how that one adds up, but oh well. Maybe it's because the personal foul on Seattle was unnecessary roughness. Punters being run into. players calling for fair catches and being hit...it was a free-for-all at times, and penalties were phantom at others. Forget the coaches, this guy needs to be fired, or whatever they do with referees, on Black Monday.
Let's talk about defense
These guys are insane. It seems as if "next man up" brings in backups who could be starters on just about any other team. CB's Browner and Thurmond go out? No problem. Byron Maxwell comes in, plays 4 games, and gets 4 interceptions. LB KJ Wright goes out? Okay...struggle a bit on run D at first but Malcom Smith gets a little playing time under him, comes up with a pick 6, and helps shore that run D right up. They kept the Rams to 13 yards on 18 attempts. Thirteen rushing yards all game. Really? If they can keep that up in front, linebackers start joining in with the ball hawking, and the secondary stays strong...oh my. I'm kind of in love with this defense. Also, Kam Chancellor is a freight train.
Did you see WR Ricardo Lockette truck Justin Veltung on that punt? Did they show that in the highlights after the games last night? I was watching him gaining speed down the field, looking back at Veltung to see if he'd call for a fair catch...back and forth, watching Lockette, looking at Veltung, thinking "oh my god he's going to kill him!"
And what might even be more impressive than the hit is the fact that Veltung held on to the ball.
Jon Ryan & Co. lost that record they were going after yesterday by letting a long punt return through, but they're still impressive. I think Ryan booted one 67 yards at one point. I have no issues with ST on either side this year.
The offense still struggled early, but it was obvious at what point in the game they started to click. Once they did, though...they looked good. It gave me hope (again. Ugh.) And say what you want about Golden Tate, that guy was a warrior in this game. Marshawn Lynch was beastly as always. RW was given more time, and when he wasn't he made better decisions more quickly. I hope this is indicative of what's to come, going into the playoffs. They still need to get better on 3rd down, Darrell Bevell still needs to make adjustments earlier if he sees something isn't working, blocking could improve...a lot of stuff could improve. If it doesn't, they'll waste that home field advantage in the playoffs.
The 12th Man
I kid you not, it was louder in there yesterday than it's ever been at a game to which I've gone...and I've gone to a lot. When I wasn't yelling, it hurt my ears - and I sit up in the 300 level. So, I yelled more than even usual, which of course resulted in my throat hurting and my voice being relatively nonexistent today. It was worth it, and I can only assume it's just a warmup for the next game.
Until next time! I guess we play New Orleans if they win, and if they don't we host the winner of the Niners/Packers game. All of those teams scare the bejeezus out of me right now.