One of the slightly endearing and surprising things about the nearly 600 comments on yesterday’s Opening Kick was that quite a few of the ones I read were from Seahawks fans with handles like ‘SeattleRob,’ confidently predicting a win on Sunday or drawing conclusions like ‘Russell Wilson has thrown more touchdown passes than Robert Griffin, therefore he’s the better rookie quarterback.’
Whether the Post-Intelligencer Web site was broken or there are a handful of Pacific Northwest transplants living in Washington or whatever, fans of both teams are always welcome to camp out here on The Insider and clash. We’ll be posting all day, and the Insider regulars I’m sure can handle it, it’s just … well … who even knew there were trash-talking Seahawks fans?
Seattle itself is a unique city with loads of personality; I have a personal connection to it, so I’m not disrespecting the place. But the city’s sporting history is rough — it’s among the most championship-starved major North American sports cities, it watched the SuperSonics leave town and become the dominant Oklahoma City Thunder, and the Seahwaks have mostly stunk. In 37 seasons of existence, the franchise has made 11 playoff appearances and had only six seasons of 10 or more wins (four coming since 2003) and the one Super Bowl loss during the Mike Holmgren years.
The history is not the stuff confident fans are made from.
Fans — and bookmakers, who list the Seahawks as the only road favorite in the first round – have a right to feel good about this season’s 11-5 team, energized by Coach Pete Carroll and Wilson, and playing with a punishing defense and running game. Adam Kilgore’s feature this morning compared the two teams’ rush offenses and pointed out how they’re almost throwbacks in a passing league, although the design of their run games is still very current.
Washington is one of the NFL’s storied franchises, going back to 1932, winning three Super Bowls and having 13 seasons of 10 or more wins from 1972 to 1991 alone. But let’s be real — the past 20 years have sullied the franchise’s reputation, with this being just the fourth playoff appearance and third 10+-win season since 1992. This season — the past seven weeks in particular — as has been well documented in these parts, has more or less wiped the slate clean. The Redskins and their fans have been revived.
So maybe the franchises are more alike than they are different. Both are positioned to start a run of success, and come into the playoffs as one of those hot teams playing well enough to make a run. This season’s Seahawks have beaten the Packers, Patriots, Vikings and 49ers; The Redskins beat the Vikings and Ravens, and played the Falcons and Bengals close. Plus, with the playoffs not an every-year occurrence, both sides’ fans are properly cherishing this opportunity and not taking it for granted. That perhaps breeds a bit of trash talk, even if cross-country fan bases can’t well be rivals.
For Redskins fans, however, games with the Seahawks could be getting personal, as the Washington owes Seattle for knocking it out of the playoffs during the franchise’s past two appearances, and for Jim Zorn.
Washington, playing at home and winners of seven straight, have their own reasons to be confident. Both teams are led by star quarterbacks and recognizable coaches, but have been playing well-rounded enough of late to really believe this could be the year. Yet by Sunday night, someone’s run is over.
So take another morning to debate which franchise needs this win, which rookie quarterback is truly better, and which under-discussed factor could really sway this game. We’ll be at your service up to and throughout Sunday’s 4:30 p.m. kickoff.