A little change of pace for this Super Bowl Bye Week column. No movie quote format this week. This week, the column is going to serve two purposes. First, it’ll be an attempt to continue the euphoria that this city is currently experiencing after witnessing what happened Sunday at CenturyLink Field. Second, it’ll serve as historical record so that as time goes by and some of the memories fade, we can use it to remind us all of the incredible event we were a part of Sunday. Here, in timeline format, was my personal account of January 18, 2015.
5:30am: The alarm has just gone off. To be honest, I probably didn’t need an alarm, but not because of my excitement for the day. A combination of the windstorm that howled through the night and a string of emergency vehicles driving by my place with sirens blaring, I was pretty much up a good portion of the night. But fatigue will not keep me down today. But I will need to pick up a 5-hour Energy at the gas station on the way to Seattle.
7:00am: Arrival at the tailgate. The scene is surreal. The alley is packed. There are piles of twisted metal where people left their canopies up all night and the wind just destroyed them. There’s also an unexplained river of Styrofoam. Normally when the alley is full, I can park on 1st Ave since parking’s free on Sundays. Not the case today. Everything was already taken and I had to bite the bullet and pay to park. The lot next to me already turned into a lake due to the rain overnight and now has whitecaps on it with the wind.
8:15am: A massive wind gust just blew through the alley. I just saw someone’s canopy top break loose and end up a couple hundred yards into the Port of Seattle. Thankfully our group prepped enough and anchored our canopy setup to buckets of cement.
9:30am: A squall has come through town, sending all us tailgaters scrambling for cover. I’ve had more personal space inside an MRI tube. It’s also possible there may be a rash of children born 9 months from now given how compressed we all were.
10:30am: In the latest in guest appearances at the tailgate this year, Tee Wanz (of Macklemore’s “Thrift Shop” fame) gives a live performance to get everyone hyped up for the game. We popped some tags. Thankfully plenty of folks also had $20 in their pocket as you all were again very generous in your support of our charities.
11:00am: Packing up everything and heading to the game. As we have done most games, we grab a pedi-cab to save some time to make sure we’re able to get to the game, get through security, and make the climb of the stairs before the beginning of the pregame festivities. As most of you know, you don’t necessarily owe these guys anything. They work on tips. They are not regulated cab companies. There’s no set charge per mile. Throughout the year, I’d give these guys $15-$20 per person that we have with us and they’ve all been very nice and very appreciative. Not this douchebag on Sunday. He tried to tell me he’s been getting between $60-$100 to drop people at the NW gates. Now, I know there’s no way that’s true. He’s thinking we’re just a bunch of idiots who somehow lucked into tickets this one time so he can pull one over on us because we don’t know better. It takes all of my restraint to not snatch the $45 that I’ve already had given him out of his hand and tell him to go screw himself. He didn’t even have to do all that much work. He had one of those bikes that had some motorized help so he really only had to do so much anyway. If he had actually needed to pedal harder to lug our fat asses around, maybe I would have relented. The bad part for him is he has a very distinctive red beard so we’ll remember him next year and I will make sure nobody from our tailgate gives him any business.
12:00pm: The starting defensive unit is being introduced. The crowd is thunderous when the Legion of Boom comes on to the field. Almost as loud as when the coin flip is done and the Hawks will defer and allow that defense first crack at the Packers.
12:04pm: As has been done for the other 2 previous NFC Championships, Paul Allen raises the 12th Man Flag. As you know, they put up these phrases describing who is about to raise the flag until it culminates in actually telling you who it is. Ever since they did it the first time, and most definitely again yesterday, tears come into my eyes as they flash the phrase “He Saved Our Seahawks”.
End of 1st quarter, approximately 12:45pm: Uneasiness has settled over CenturyLink Field. We’ve watched possibly the worst quarter of football we’ve seen this year and we were in the house for the game down in San Diego. The Hawks are turning the ball over at an unbelievable clip, yet the defense has somehow kept the score to 13-0. No small feat against one of the great offenses in the NFL.
End of 2nd quarter, approximately 1:30pm: Uneasiness has turned to frustration has turned almost to resignation. The Seahawks finally got a first down on offense with 7 minutes left in the quarter. They continue to pile up penalties, which we all knew would eventually come back to bite them right in the ass. To cap it off, the offense finally puts a drive together only to have it end as Russell throws his 3rd interception of the half in the end zone.
Halftime: I’m wagering there’s never been 68,000 people more pissed to be at an Alice In Chains concert. I felt incredibly bad for those guys. They did what they could to try and ease the pain of what we witnessed in the first half, but the fans were having absolutely none of it.
4:44 left in the 3rd quarter, approximately 2:30pm: Ohhhh…those tricky Seahawks!! Life has been breathed anew into the 12th Man. Forget Montana to Rice or Manning to Harrison, the Seahawks have Ryan to Gilliam! The fake field goal that will go down in Seahawks lore as the call that helped send the team back to the Super Bowl was the exact spark this team needed. Underneath my feet, I feel the stands begin to shake ever so slightly. A harbinger of good things to come.
2:50pm: The Packers have kicked yet another field goal to push the score to 19-7. The 12th Man is beginning to slowly lose hope. The thunderous noise is now just a low rumble. The Hawks need that spark again. I can begin to see people get antsy, almost like they’re thinking of leaving.
3:05pm: In what felt like the last chance for the Hawks to make something happen, Russell has thrown his 4th interception of the day, this time to Morgan Burnett. Oddly, he goes to the ground almost immediately after picking off the pass. From our perch in 339, it looks like he had at least 20 yards of additional space before anyone would be near him. Maybe that comes into play later…
3:06pm: The 12’s Since ’12 have seen enough. There begins to be a slight exodus of those who want to beat the traffic. From our seats, we can see the north plaza and the stairs heading over to the trains. While not a full-on rush out the door, there is a steady stream of folks who can’t be bothered to stick it out and at the very least applaud their team as the year comes to an end. While not leaving yet, I was very close to sending the tweet “Nail. Coffin. Sighhh. Bye Felicia”.
3:10pm: As a wise man once said (ok, it was me and we know there’s only a shred of wisdom there), now it gets interestinger and interestinger. The Hawks defense forced a 3 & out, giving the offense back the ball at the 31 after Burnett didn’t get more yardage off that INT. We thought we had a Beast Mode touchdown on the wheel route, but turns out he stepped out at the 9. No matter, Russell keeps the ball and punches it in from the 1 to make it 19-14. With 2:07 left in the game and the Hawks having only 1 timeout left, we have to think the onside kick is coming. Maybe, just maybe, the Hawks can beat the odds and come down with this football.
3:13pm: Hauscka’s got the ball lined up…buries it into the ground…pretty good hop there…hanging up pretty high…oh it just bounced off a…SEAHAWK BALL!! SEAHAWK BALL!! Chris Matthews comes down with it! The Seahawks have life! Now the stands are shaking! Ok, ok. Time to calm down. The Hawks need to be able to hear what they’re doing on offense.
3:16pm: Marshawn gets the ball…cuts left…makes a guy miss…oooooh he’s gonna get the corner…he could…YEEEEEESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!! TOUCHDOWN SEAHAWKS!! Someone check on Steve Raible and see if he’s dead. We’ve heard eruptions at CenturyLink before, but I would be hard pressed to think of a time where the eruption was louder. This was bedlam. I know a huge driver of that bedlam was the cauldron of emotions that had been building all day. This was a fan base that had gone through depression, anger, frustration, resignation, hope, depression again, hope comes back for a minute, then the culmination. The release of that emotion was bound to be something special.
3:17pm: Ok, time for the 2 point conversion. Russell rolling right…can’t find anyone…can’t find anyone…dammit who called this stupid play…oh come on, really, the jump ball as you throw back across your body…wait Luke Willson’s there…WOOOOOO!!! Ha Ha Clinton-Dix found the concrete puddle we had strategically placed at the goal line, preventing him from jumping up to knock down the ball. Jubilation washes over the 12th Man (well, those who were still there).
3:18pm: But then just as quick, jubilation was diminished as we all realized the Packers had 1:25 and all 3 timeouts. Even the 12’s Since ’12 can remember back to the Atlanta playoff game a couple years ago. The way the two games unfolded was eerily similar. The 12th Man is at its absolute zenith but can do nothing to stop Rodgers from finding open receivers as they march into Seahawks territory. The Hawks defense is finally able to stop the bleeding at ends the Packers drive at the 30.
3:20pm: Mason Crosby has been too good today. In a swirling wind, driving rain, and at times blinding sunshine, he’s been able to hit 4 field goals. Certainly the odds catch up with him and he can’t hit a 5th with the game on the line, can he? The 12’s are in full throat as the ball is hit perfectly and goes right through the heart of the uprights and right through the heart of Seahawks fans who are now just a little queasy at the notion that with overtime comes a huge unknown.
3:25pm: The coin toss to start overtime. Our coin toss MVP, Tarvaris Jackson, is out there for good luck. The Packers, in a stunning reversal from traditional wisdom, call tails. As the coin falls to the ground, a bold, beautiful “H” is staring up at the referee. “It is heads. Seattle has won the toss and will receive”. Another eruption. That queasiness has suddenly gone away. This is no longer the Atlanta game. This is now this year’s Denver game.
3:26pm: Thinking to myself…I did remember to put the extended time on there when I set the DVR right? Yeah, I think so.
3:30pm: Russell back to pass…throwing it deep up the sideline…Doug is there…dropped right in the bucket!! 35 yards and just like that the Hawks are getting into Hauschka territory. But, let’s not settle for that. Let’s see if we can’t get 6 here and punch that ticket for Glendale.
3:31pm: Russell back to pass again…huh, thought they’d run it here…Russell lets it fly…wait a minute Jermaine looks kinda open here…there’s no safety in the middle of the field…annnnnddd…HEEEEE GOT IT! HE GOT IT! Eruption does not accurately explain what just spewed forth from CenturyLink Field. What you heard was 65,000 people spontaneously combust and the resulting cacophony from that. We’re hugging friends. We’re hugging strangers. I have to sit down because I think I might pass out from hyperventilating. If you listen carefully, you could hear every bar owner within a 10-block radius of the stadium counting the money they were going to make as people will be celebrating late into the night inside their establishments.
3:40pm: Time for the Halas Trophy ceremony. Just as it’s about to begin, I notice Michael Bennett riding a bike around the stadium for some reason. Did he have a bike in the locker room? Wait…did he just steal a bike from one of the Seattle Police officers? That would be awesome. Anyway, Terry Bradshaw’s introducing Steve Largent to present the trophy to Paul Allen and I could have sworn I heard him say Largent was the only Seahawk in the Hall of Fame. Maybe he said original Seahawk in the Hall of Fame. Nope. Confirmed that later. How dumb do you have to be not to know that both Cortez Kennedy and Walter Jones (whose retired jerseys you were able to see all day) are also in the Hall of Fame, with Walter just having gone in last year?
3:50pm: We begin one of the greatest walks back to the tailgate ever. We’re high-fiving everyone. There’s the occasional hugs with strangers too. The rain is starting to come down but we could care less. Nothing will dampen our spirits. We work our way back down the alley where the party is in full effect. Apparently there was a group that went to Costco for their marijuana purchase as much of the alley has a pungent aroma.
4:00pm: We finally get back to the tailgate. The hugs are given out at a faster rate than those folks who hand out free Monster on Sunday mornings. Bottles of champagne have been popped and everyone’s having a nip of the bubbly. The music is cranked back up and it has turned into a dance party. The euphoria that has washed over us is something that isn’t going away any time soon.
6:30pm: A fantastic day ends with the revival of a fantastic tradition. Our celebration ends where many had ended before. The Dicks on 45th. Nothing quite caps off victory like a couple Dicks Deluxe’s washed down with a chocolate shake.
7:30pm: It takes me approximately 0.42 seconds to flip on the tv after I got home. I have to see the aftermath of this game from a national perspective. The realization that what we had witnessed would go down in history as one of the greatest NFL games ever begins to sink in. When the game is being put in the category of The Catch, The Drive, The Immaculate Reception, you know this game will be remembered for a very long time. I may have had trouble sleeping the night before, but tonight a deep and easy sleep is definitely coming my way.
The cheapest ticket available is $2,125 with cheapest 100's Level ticket costing $2,885. Also of note, 25% of Super Bowl ticket transactions have been from Washington with another 5% from Oregon. 20% are from Massachusetts with 5% from Connecticut. It looks like the 12's will have the attendance advantage in Phoenix.