If Sunday’s games are any indication, New England will be flying first class to Glendale, Arizona, in two weeks to play Seattle in the Super Bowl while the Seahawks will be arriving in ten yellow school buses, befitting the world of difference each exhibited in their victories.
All you need to know about Seattle is that they stunk up their over-the-top noisy stadium for fifty-eight minutes before they Doug-Flutied themselves to the big game. Credit Russell Wilson for a greater comeback than Frank Sinatra had in resurrecting his career with an $8,000 gig in “From Here To Eternity.” Wilson went from a first-half quarterback rating of seven to an overtime ranking of ninety-nine in the greatest comeback in conference championship NFL history.
With a minute left, Packer quarterback Aaron Rodgers drove his team into field goal range where Mason Crosby hit his fifth field goal ( that number itself an indication of the Pack’s inability to close deals down close.)
In overtime, Wilson found Jermaine Kearse for a 35-yard scoring strike, the only catch he made all game after having four other throws intended for him intercepted. After the catch, Wilson fought his way through a multitude of players, fans, photographers and police to embrace his receiver.
But before all that happened, we saw more weirdness and improbable occurrences than you’d find on a season of “Breaking Bad” re-runs. First, a successful on-side kick with two-minutes left, in itself an oddity. When teams aren’t expecting an on-side kick, the attempts are 60% successful, but when expected that figure drops to 20%. So there was only a one-in-five chance Seattle would recover. Plus the kick floated directly down into the hands of a Green Bay player who misjudged its trajectory and had it bounce off his helmet right into the hands of a Seahawk. Two plays later, game over.
With five-minutes left, the Pack had picked off Wilson’s fourth and last interception when the defender, all alone, ran ten yards ahead and suddenly fell down, ostensibly to protect the ball, lest a fumble on his part occur. Not a bad play with a minute and change left, but not five. Instead of attempting to run downfield against the only Seahawks who could stop him, five fat offensive linemen and Wilson, he took a knee. Three and out and Seattle had the ball again to start their historic comeback.
The other game was all Tom Brady, a win ensuring his sixth Super Bowl appearance. A 45-7 rout, it showed clearly the heights Colts quarterback Andrew Luck must ascend to achieve parity with the great quarterbacks of NHL history. LaGarrette Blount had a big day, gaining 148 yards. This is the same guy who, playing for Oregon, sucker punched a Boise State player walking off the field, invoking an eight-game suspension. He’s a hard guy to root for.
More on the Super Bowl in next week’s Coach’s Corner.