Nowadays, good fortune sits gently on the shoulder pads of the Seattle Seahawks, the team that used to hide in defeat behind Mount Rainier.
Sunday at 4 p.m., these Seahawks, with a 2-1 record, will play the Washington Redskins (WDVM-TV-9) on the Kingdome's carpet.
Sure, oddsmakers favor the Redskins (also 2-1) by two points. But that's irrelevant to the Seahawks. Two weeks ago, they defeated the New York Jets, 17-10. Last week, they defeated San Diego, 34-31. They weren't favored to win those games, either.
"Some people have asked if the Seahawks are for real," said Kenny Easley, Seattle's third-year strong safety, who is from Chesapeake, Va. "I honestly can't sit here and tell you we are. It's too early. I can tell you, we believe in what we're doing."
Gone, it seems, are the growing pains to the tune of a 39-62 record in the franchise's first seven years.
In their place have come such stabilizers as Chuck Knox, the coach of conservatism and the 93-52-1 career record (third-best winning percentage among active coaches behind Don Shula and Don Coryell) and rookie running back Curt Warner, former Penn State star, who has gained 330 yards on 58 carries, the best in the league.
Consequently, quarterback Jim Zorn--a poor soldier sacked an estimated 200 times over the past seven years because the Seahawks had a negligible running game--has been given another weapon to keep defenses thinking.
"Curt Warner has taken a load off Zorn. Now, Zorn may play another 10 years just because of Curt Warner," Easley said. "He might be like Craig Morton, one of those 20-year veterans."
As always, the Knox offensive method has been a grind-it-out, make-no-mistakes game. Same as when he was coaching the Los Angeles Rams to five division titles in five years. Same as when he coached Buffalo.
Against San Diego, the Seahawks ran the ball 56 times for 206 yards, letting Zorn throw only 24 times, including two touchdown passes to his most reliable receiver, Steve Largent. Against the Jets, they ran it 57 times.
The Redskins say they expect the Seahawks to stick with the run. The Redskins' defense has yielded an average of only 83 rushing yards per game, best in the league. But Washington hasn't faced a back as shifty as Warner since Dallas' Tony Dorsett ran for 151 yards at RFK Stadium three weeks ago.
"They're sold on what they're doing. They'll come out and be solid and sound," said Coach Joe Gibbs, "and they'll pump the run. The danger for us is working so hard only against the run. We have to be ready for the pass."
"Curt does more juking than Dorsett," said Redskins linebacker Rich Milot. "He cuts well and he's a little tougher inside than Dorsett."
After losing, 17-13, at Kansas City in the season opener, Zorn has been as resourceful as ever. In all, Zorn has completed 41 of 82 passes for 460 yards, three touchdowns and three interceptions.
He will provide another stern test for the Redskins' secondary. Free safety Mark Murphy said, "(Kansas City quarterback) Bill Kenney threw the ball 46 times last week and completed less than half (22) . . . If any quarterback throws the ball that many times, we'll give up yards, that's a fact of life . . . But I think last week we probably played our best game as a secondary."
The Redskins' offense has been inconsistent. Sunday, it will face the Seahawks' new 3-4 defense, made competent by defensive end Jacob Green (three sacks so far) and the grit of outside linebacker Michael Jackson.
"I don't think you're ever pleased with your offense," said Gibbs. "I know right now our players aren't pleased. We've been playing up and down in halves. We're not getting the big plays that put us all the way into the end zone.
"It's a miss here or there. Sometimes, it's a dropped ball or a slip in pass protection."
Chances are, the Redskins will throw the ball a great deal Sunday. Quarterback Joe Theismann (55 of 91 for 620 yards, five touchdowns and three interceptions) will try to find the same passing success that San Diego's Dan Fouts had against Seattle, throwing for 338 yards last week.
Center Jeff Bostic doesn't agree that Washington's offense has been inconsistent. Said Bostic, "We've scored more than 25 points per game (26, actually) over the first three games. We haven't turned the ball over (three times, tied with Seattle for second best in the NFL). I don't think we've gone out and beaten ourselves."