We didn’t lose the game, we just ran out of time….Vince Lombardi.
I use the quote by the great Vince Lombardi because it is the perfect metaphor for the game they played against the Carolina Panthers…they just ran out of time.
This game was an example of how the season went. Giving up 31 points in the first half seemed like a very deep hole to dig out of but the resiliency of this team showed they just don’t give up.
But there is a reason why the Carolina Panthers are a 15-1 team. They took care of business early on with Washington native Jonathon Stewart ripping off a 75 yard run on the first play of the game to set up the first Carolina touchdown.
The defense came up big on the very next series when Luke Kuechly picked off an ill-advised Russell Wilson pass and ran it in for a pick six to go up 14-0 barley four minutes played.
And the Panthers continued to pour it on, scoring 17 more points in the second quarter.
But the Seahawks regrouped in the second half. The defense came up huge by shutting out the Panthers in the second half and allowing the offense to crawl it’s way out of the deep hole they dug for themselves.
Some great individual efforts and the one effort I want to point out is the one by Jermaine Kearse. His play in the second half was stellar, catching two clutch touchdowns and making great catch after great catch to finish with 11 catches for 110 yards to go along with the 2 scores.
Another is rookie Tyler Lockett. His TD catch was clutch and his receiving technique on a crucial third down situation was nothing short of amazing. Seahawks have found a treasure in this kid. He had only 3 catches for 75 yards but his 50 yard return to open the second half was a spark the Hawks desperately needed.
Marshawn Lynch was a non-factor in this game and I don’t feel he will be back in a Seahawk uniform next season. I admire his running style and they way he fights for every yard he can get. But he is at point in his career where he is starting to break down.
About the only way he comes back to the Hawks is a re-structured contract and a reduced role with the offense. It appears to me that Thomas Rawls has the inside track to be the featured running back.
While I admire Pete Carroll’s mantra to run first, I also have to admire his adaptability to open up the passing game and put the team on the shoulders of Russell Wilson who showed the rest of the NFL that he is capable of carrying the team when needed.
Wilson showed remarkable leadership skills this game as well as the second-half of the season. His decision making became sublime in his historic second half run. At one point, over a 5-game stretch, he had 19 touchdowns with zero interceptions, something that no quarterback in the history of the game ever accomplished. And there have been some great quarterbacks over the past 96 years the NFL has been in existence.
As always at the end of a season, there will be some hard choices to make. With the Seahawks it will be with the following players:
Marshawn Lynch – No one can dispute when the Seahawks made the trade for the mercurial running back in 2010 that it was going to be Lynch to be the face of the Seahawks. Lynch came through time after time, putting the Hawks on the playoff map with his seismic Beast Quake run against the New Orleans Saints later that same year. But next year will be Lynch’s 10th year in the NFL and will be 30 years old. Just coming off his first ever surgery and is one of the highest paid players in the NFL. It may come down to a business decision to release Lynch to free up salary cap for younger players. If Lynch decides to retire, Seattle should throw him the biggest freaking party it can…but it would be a coin toss if he showed up for it.
Russell Okung – Okung is considered one of the top left tackles in the game. Issue I have with him is that we’ve never gotten a full season from him. He was the Hawks first pick in the 2010 draft and landed a six year contract worth $48 million dollars with more than $29 million of it guaranteed. Now that he’s up for free agency, he is going to command an even higher salary. My opinion, while Okung is a good left tackle and I would hate to disrupt that line, Hawks need to part ways with Okung and find another left tackle in the draft, perhaps Jack Conklin out of Michigan State or Jerald Hawkins of LSU. Okung is going to be way to expensive for the Hawks to keep.
J.R. Sweezy – This is a guy I think we need to keep. He brings solidity to the right guard spot and is an good run blocker. He is at the end of a 4-year, $2.1 million dollar contract. If the Hawks can keep him with a 3-year at about a $5 million dollar contract, it will be less disruption on the offensive line which took a while to come around in 2015.
Jermaine Kearse – Over the last two years, Kearse has come up with some very clutch catches. All of us can remember the acrobatic catch he made in the 2014 Super Bowl against the Patriots. And this game, coming up huge with his performance against the Panthers. Hawks need to keep him so the receiving corps of Kearse, Doug Baldwin, Tyler Lockett, Luke Wilson and yes, Jimmy Graham are kept intact for the 2016 season.
Brandon Mebane – An absolute monster in the middle but may have to be a causality of the business. Gotta love the effort he puts out every game and how effective he is bottling up the middle against the run. As much as I’d love to keep him, it wouldn’t be cost-effective to do so.
So here is to yet another great season the Hawks gave us and here is to hoping they continue to finds ways to keep finding players to maintain the level of excellence all Seahawk fans come to expect.
And while I applaud the Carolina Panthers season and their ability to survive the game against the Hawks, I will be rooting for the Arizona Cardinals next week…and if the Cards can get past them, I will be rooting for them against the AFC team they face in the Super Bowl. Love to see one of the classiest players in the game, Larry Fitzgerald, get a Super Bowl ring.