Seahawk Fans Prayer Answered In A Most Unusual Way
The better team lost the 2014 NFC Championship game. At least on this particular 'Any Given Sunday'. I'm not saying that out of partiality. I thoroughly expected Seattle to beat Green Bay simply because I believed them to be the superior team. Their widely acknowledged league's best defense was sizzling hot. The once supposed 'game manager' quarterback Russell Wilson was playing at the highest level. He was efficient, poised, accurate, clutch in the passing game and an outstanding decision maker. The running game was hitting on all cylinders between the incomparable Marshawn Lynch's brutish power combined with Wilson's own best impression of an elusive scatback possessing uncanny instincts. The world champions were relatively healthy, hitting full stride on all cylinders.
On the Green Bay side of the ball, the league's premier quarterback and soon to be league MVP Aaron Rodgers was entering the game in a clearly diminished capacity nursing a torn calf. He may have willed his team past the Dallas Cowboys in the divisional round on a hobbled leg and severely limited mobility, but now he was going up against the league's best defense. They were sure to have learned a lesson from the Cowboys defense: without getting pressure on the injured quarterback he could still rip you apart with the deadly accuacy of his right arm.
But a funny thing happened on the way to the forum. The Seahawks decided to pull a 'Denver-Broncos'. They were lethargic, unfocused and unenergized. They performed like that for most of the game. Meanwhile, the Packers were playing their best game of the year. Their running game was effective and Rodgers had more than ample time to deliver his darts. The Seahawks could do nothing offensively, often giving the ball back to the Pack on tunrovers. They were fortunate Rodgers didn't have his legs under him or they most probably wouldn't even have had the opportunity to be in the position they found themselves late in the game.
As we all know, Green Bay had a cushy 12 point lead with a few minutes left on the clock. This one was 'in the bag', all wrapped up and ready to deliver to the Fat Lady to belt out her best rendition of "Go! You Packers! Go!".
But then an even funnier thing happened inside the forum. The Packers 'brain trust' proved themselves to be anything but trustworthy. They pulled out the old stand by when one wants to venture down the path of self sabotage and snatch defeat from the jaws of victory - "The Prevent Defense".
Really? Your defense is playing the game of it's life till it's decided to stop playing defense. Stop doing what has been successful the entire game (except for 1 play in the first half when the Packers went to the 'Prevent' leading to Seattle's lone touchdown - remember the 3rd and very long?) and do the exact opposite! Don't pass rush the QB; contain him. Don't cover the receivers; play a loose, deep zone. In other words 'Stop Pressuring the Offense'. Let them walk right down the field as though it were a Sunday afternoon stroll through the park.
Not only has this idiotic stragegy consistently and more often than not ended in abject failure as again witnessed, but what kind of message does it send to your players? "Hey guys, thanks for everything. You've given a once in a lifetime championship effort leaving it all out on the field. You've physically dominated and your performance up to this point will go down in history. But, you're incapable of finishing the job in this manner. Our coaching acumen will take over from here boys. Don't be aggressive, don't play to win. Leave it to us - We're Geniuses. It must be true, the media says so all the time".
The message delievered to the players was loud and clear, the results of that message were obvious. The Packers defense collapsed. It regressed to what we saw from them most of the regular season. Ane why wouldn't it go down like that? Could leadership do anything more to demoralize a unit? The great defenses of the past rarely if ever played the 'Prevent'. They prided themselves in not only shutting down the opponent, but dominating them statistically. They wanted shutouts! The Green Bay defense held Russell Wilson to numbers one would expect to see from a 3rd string QB. Thanks to the vaunted 'Prevent', his rating probably skyrocketed about 1000% - that's not a typo - by the end of regulation. And naturally the defense was miserably demoralized in the overtime too, thus allowing Seattle to easily do what they hadn't been able to do all day. Until that is, their prayers were answered with the "Prevent Defense".
In case it wasn't completely obvious, as a football fan, I'm angry about it. I feel robbed. I want to see the best beat the best based on merit and performance. Not on the unbelievable stupidity of subscribing to a failed ideology based more on the "fear of losing" than the "fatih of winning"!