RENTON — Monday Night Football, is it just another game for the Seahawks, or a chance at a coming-out party?
Well, that depends on who you ask, but to some degree, it’s definitely the latter. The Seahawks will tell you that they are preparing for this game just like they would any other. They will say that this game, regardless of the TV audience or the opponent, the Green Bay Packers, is no different than the other 15 games on the schedule.
But even if the week leading up to the game is the same, the Seahawks also know what a win would mean for them. After Seattle’s dominating victory over Dallas last week, the national reaction, not surprisingly, was mostly about how the Cowboys choked, and not about the impressive performance by the Seahawks. Former running back Marshall Faulk said on the NFL Network that the Cowboys played down to the Seahawks’ level. Never mind that the Cowboys were in fact 20 points below Seattle’s level, that was just another example of how the team tucked up here in the Northwest (or “South Alaska” as Matt Hasselbeck jokingly called it) rarely registers on the national radar.
Well, if Seattle can put up a similar performance tonight against Green Bay, if that Seahawks defense can do what it did against Dallas to Aaron Rodgers and the Packers, there will be no ignoring the Seahawks.
“Monday is going to be a big-time atmosphere and we’ve got a big team coming in,” Seahawks linebacker K.J. Wright said. “We’ve got a big opportunity to go 2-1 and at the same time show people around the country how good we are. We’ve got a good game plan and we’re planning on coming out and having a good game. Everybody’s going to be watching, so if we can come out and do it like we did last week, it would open some eyes.”
Of course, ultimately it doesn’t matter what other people think of this team. This isn’t college football. The Seahawks don’t need to lobby voters to make sure they reach a BCS Bowl. If the Seahawks can win enough games, they’ll be in the playoffs, disrespected or not. Even so, for a young team coming off back-to-back losing seasons, having people take notice wouldn’t be so bad.
“We’re up in the Pacific Northwest, and a lot of people don’t pay attention to our team — we don’t get a lot of people talking about us,” safety Kam Chancellor said. “We just want to play our game. We know what we’re capable of, so we’ll just go out there and do what we do.”
More important than the attention and respect it might bring, a win tonight also would show significant progress for the Seahawks. The Packers, despite a season-opening loss to the 49ers, are one of the top teams in the NFL. They won the Super Bowl two seasons ago and went 15-1 in the regular season last year. The win over Dallas was nothing to sneeze at, but beating the Packers would represent one of the team’s signature wins under coach Pete Carroll.
“It’s going to be a big test,” fullback Michael Robinson said. “It’s a barometer, a gauge to see where we’re at right now.”
The game also serves as another test of Carroll’s coaching philosophy. While built by people with similar visions — Seahawks general manager John Schneider is a product of Green Bay’s front office — the two teams’ styles of play are much different. With league MVP Rodgers running the offense, the Packers will pass and pass a lot. And Green Bay’s defense is talented, but also susceptible to giving up a lot of yards and points — though that is partly because teams are frequently piling up yards and points late while playing from behind. The Seahawks, meanwhile, lean on an old-school approach that relies on defense and a strong running game. If the Seahawks can get ahead, they’ll try to dictate the tempo. If not …
“We have a style and we’d like to be able to dictate if we could, and when we can, we will,” Carroll said. “If it goes other wise and we see something we can take advantage of, we’re fine about throwing the ball. I totally trust the quarterback to throw the ball; I have no problem with that. We need to protect well and give him a chance.
“We’re ready for whatever we have to do.”
Herald Writer John Boyle: firstname.lastname@example.org.