Raise your hand if you are a sucker for emotional sports moments

I know I know, I just posted a video of Knowshon Moreno, but I just had to highlight those gushing, emotional, manly tears flowing down his face.

I’ll admit, I am a huge sucker for emotional sports moments. I’ve been brought to tears time and time again by stories like a high school football manager with down syndrome getting one carry in a football game and the other team letting him score a touchdown or the terminal cancer patient visiting his favorite team and meeting his favorite player. These types of moments choke me up.

Before the NFC Championship two weeks ago, my wife and I were eating breakfast and she said “I don’t know why, but I have this weird feeling that I’m going to cry today.” Later in the evening, right after Sherman tipped away that final pass and Malcolm Smith brought in the interception, I turned around to my wife in the bar and said “that’s it, we did it. We’re going to the Super Bowl.”

My statement was apparently enough to create an emotional release that resulted in joyful tears. This Sunday, I’ll let you know right now that I will probably end up shedding a tear or two, whether happy tears or sad tears, and I can confidently say there is nothing wrong with that.

Therefore, when I saw these two videos today and laughed and cried a little along with the people in the videos, I figured I had to share them with everybody in case they hadn’t seen the clips.

Nearly every year there is some big sporting event to which one person gives another person tickets and films the reveal. A year ago, a lifelong Alabama fan received a Bear Bryant fedora inside of which were two tickets to the national championship. A grown man was brought to tears because he was going to watch his favorite team play in the biggest game of the season.

Now that the Seahawks are in the Super Bowl, that big ticket reveal involved a lifelong Seahawks fan who just couldn’t believe what her son was giving her. If you are a Seahawks fan, try to watch this whole video without tearing up. It’s okay if you cry, it shows you feel some of those emotions that mother is feeling. Could you imagine your reaction if someone surprised you with Super Bowl tickets?

Moving on to the second video. Remember that story last week about the two twin girls who wear hearing aids and wrote a letter to Seahawks fullback Derrick Coleman, the same Derrick Coleman who was featured in the Duracel commercial? Not only did those girls get a hand-written response back from their new favorite player, but that wasn’t the end of the feel good story.

If you aren’t sure what happened next, watch this video; but at this point I’m sure you could guess what’s coming next.

I’ve been thinking/saying it all year that something about this 2013-2014 Seahawks seems different. I can’t quite put my finger on it but it’s almost as if the players on the roster are fully aware of how blessed they are to be playing in the NFL and want to give back to the community as much as possible. Man, I love the Seahawks.

Is it Sunday yet? #GoHawks.

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Meet the Denver Broncos

Meet the Broncos Offense | Defense | Special Teams


If you thought the 49ers were the biggest rivals in Seattle Seahawks history, then you probably don’t know much about the team prior to 2002. After playing their inaugural season in the NFC West in 1976, the Seahawks switched conferences and joined the Raiders, Chargers, Chiefs and Broncos in the AFC West where they remained until the beginning of the 2002 season.

Between 1977 and 2001, The Seahawks and the Broncos played each other 50 times in the regular season, but have met only three times since – 2002, 2006 and 2010 (they have played preseason games each of the last two seasons). In those 53 total regular season games, the Broncos hold a 33-18 edge and are 1-0 in the playoffs. In my lifetime, the Seahawks have only beaten the Broncos 11 times in 33 games.

Of all the teams and all the games the Seahawks have played throughout their 38-year history, 31 teams and 619 games to be exact, the Seahawks have the worst winning percentage against the Broncos – 34.6 percent. Seahawks fans hated the Broncos since before it became cool to hate the Niners.

But these Broncos are a far different team than the Broncos of yesteryear – the John Elway-Mike Shanahan Broncos (those were the ones I despised anyway). Okay well I guess John Elway is still with the Broncos, he’s just the president now, not the quarterback.

So who then comprises the 2013 Broncos? Who are the eight different players who caught receiving touchdowns this season? You may have heard of Von Miller or Champ Bailey, but are there any other players on the defense you should know about? Let me try and answer as many questions you have about the roster right……. now.

Offense

Quarterback:

Starter: Peyton Manning
Backup: Brock Osweiler

I think it’s safe to say Peyton Manning is one of the biggest sports celebrities in the country right now. He’s been in the league since he was 22 and is about to complete his 16th season. He’s had four neck surgeries since 2010, has two soldered-together vertabrae in his neck, and missed the entire 2011 season following neck surgery, nearly costing him his career. This year, though, he’s been insanely good. Setting records for passing yards (5,477) and passing touchdowns (55) in a season.

What to watch for: During the 2013 postseason, Peyton Manning has not been sacked, nor hit. During the AFC Championship, Manning was able to throw for 400 yards against the Patriots, largely because of his protection in the pocket. No matter how good the Seahawks secondary is, Manning will excel if he avoids pressure. I’d expect a lot of short, quick throws early to slow the Hawks pass rush a bit.

Running Backs

Starter: Knowshon Moreno
Backup: Montee Ball

Entering last season, Knowshon Moreno was on nobody’s radar when it came to naming a feature back in Denver – he played in only 7 games in 2011. Willis McGahee was the starter and Ronnie Hillman was the upstart rookie out of San Diego State. Then, McGahee broke his leg, Hillman underperformed and the former-first-round-pick Moreno had his opportunity. Since taking over as the starter in week 12 last year, Moreno has carried the ball 318 times for 1,721 yards in 25 games and caught 85 passes for 758 yards, scoring 17 total touchdowns. Against the Patriots early this year, Moreno had the game of his career, rushing 37 times for 224 yards and one touchdown, averaging 6.1 yards per carry and yet his long run of the game was only 18 yards.

What to watch for: Despite Moreno’s first 1,000-yard rushing season, I think the key man out of the backfield will be the NCAA career leader in rushing touchdowns, Monte Ball. After his 37-carry effort on November 24, Moreno has only carried the ball more than 15 times once and Ball has reached double digit carries in five of the seven games while having only three such games in the first 11 games of the season. Why is this important? Because despite Ball averaging 4.7 yards per carry this season, he lost fumbles in the second and third games of the season and again against the Patriots, nearly costing his team the game. If Ball gets double digit touches, look for the Seahawks defense to aggressively try and force a fumble.

Wide Receivers

Starters: Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker, Wes Welker
Backups: Andre Caldwell, Trindon Holiday

This is by far the most talented position group on the Denver Broncos. Thomas, Decker and Welker combined to catch 252 passes for 3,496 yards and 35 touchdowns. In fact, there were only two games all season (week 11 against the Chiefs and week 15 vs. the Chargers) in which Thomas, Decker and Welker were all held out of the end zone. Otherwise, at least one of the three has a touchdown catch in every game and there were six games in which one or more had multiple touchdowns.

What to watch for: The Broncos excel in short passes within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage including the dreaded “pick play” where two receivers run crossing routes with one receivers goal to “accidentally” block the other receiver’s defender. During the Patriots game, Wes Welker took out Aqib Talib, NE’s best pass defender, on a pick play. Aside from watching out for the pick play, if the Seahawks can successfully shut down this trio, they still have to look out for Andre Caldwell who caught two touchdowns in the loss to San Diego when the other receivers were shut out of the endzone.

Tight Ends

Starter: Julius Thomas
Backups: Jacob Tamme, Joel Dreessen

If the wide receiver position is the most talented on the Broncos, the tight end position is the most dangerous. Denver converted 46% of third downs in the regular season and better than 60% in the post season. The big reason why is the 6’5″, 250 lb. Julius Thomas. It’s Thomas who I believe will have the biggest impact on this game. During the regular season, he caught 65 passes for 788 yards and 12 touchdowns. In the postseason, he’s been kept out of the endzone but has hauled in 14 passes for 161 yards.

What to watch for: Third down conversions are the name of the game this week and I don’t think there is a quarterback better at converting on third down than Peyton Manning. The reason is that Manning has always had a good rapport with his tight ends. Against the Chargers, Manning to Julius Thomas killed the Chargers on third down. If the Hawks want to win, they have to shut down Manning’s third-down security blankets.

Offensive Line

Starters: (LT-LG-C-RG-RT) Chris Clark, Zane Beadles, Manny Ramirez, Louis Vasquez, Orlando Franklin

I should first clarify that, no, it’s not that Manny Ramirez playing center for the Broncos. Okay moving on. Each of the aforementioned linemen played more than 1000 snaps this season and, combined, they allowed just 11 sacks and 23 hits on the quarterback. During their two playoff games, the Broncos o-line has not allowed a sack nor a hit on Manning. The Seahawks can’t afford to let that happen again.

What to watch for: We all know Manning loves to change the play at the line of scrimmage and this Sunday will be no different. What I’m going to watch then is how the Seahawks defensive line disguises their rush before the snap and then how the Broncos o-line responds after the snap. Last week LT Chris Clark gave up two holding penalties instead of allowing a sack. I’d expect more of the same from all five if Manning is in danger.


Defense

Defensive Line

Starters: (LDE-DT-NT-RDE) Malik Jackson, Sylvester Williams, Terrance Knighton, Shaun Phillips
Backups: Jeremy Mincey, Mitch Unrein, Robert Ayers

As a team, the Broncos had 47 sacks this season (counting six in the playoffs) and 73 percent came from the defensive line with former Charger Shaun Phillips leading the team with 12 sacks. The Broncos d-line doesn’t just excel against the pass, the defense was also the 7th-best in the league against the run, giving up just 3.9 yards per carry. Since allowing 177 yards to the Chargers in week 15, the Broncos have allowed just 70 yards per game since.

What to watch for: Looking at the numbers, the Broncos allow just 2.91 yards up the middle and 2.72 yards per carry off right tackle. The right end though is where they are most vulnerable, allowing 4.24 yards per carry. On the left, it’s 3.77 off left tackle and 3.9 off left end. Based on those numbers, I see the read option and Harvin’s fly sweeps being a big factor for the Seahawks offensively.

Linebackers

Starters: Nate Irving, Wesley Woodyard, Danny Trevathan
Backups: Brandon Marshall, Paris Lenon, Steven Johnson

The biggest name not listed is Von Miller, who recently had ACL reconstruction surgery and is out for the season. Trevathan, who plays on the weak side, led the team in both total tackles, 142, and solo tackles, 99. Not only was he a tackling machine, but he also intercepted three passes, had 10 pass deflections and forced three fumbles.

What to watch for: The best way to stop the read option is to have your defensive ends and linebackers switch roles to confuse the quarterback’s read. If the D-end crashes and Russell Wilson keeps the ball, the linebackers should fold over the top, to the outside, to pick up Wilson. If the defensive ends play up field and Wilson gives to Beast Mode, it’s much easier to block the linebackers to open a running lane up the middle.

Secondary:

Starters: (Corners) Champ Bailey, Dominique Rogers-Cromatie; (Safeties) Duke Ihenacho, Mike Adams
Backups: Quentin Jammer, Kayvon Webster, David Bruton

One big name left out is cornerback Chris Harris, who tore his ACl in the first round of the playoffs and played 1,042 snaps during the regular season, the most of any Broncos defensive player. Like Sherman, Harris excels by shutting down his receiver to the point opposing teams don’t throw his way often. After he went down against the Chargers, though, Keenen Allen broke out with 123 yards receiving and two touchdowns in the fourth quarter against Jammer.

What to watch for: Bailey used to be the best in the league, but he’s in his 15th season and missed 11 games this season because of a foot injury. Jammer doesn’t like to get physical and is in his 12th season and Rogers-Cromartie has already said he’d contemplate retirement if the Broncos win. This unit is going to be the easiest to exploit and I’d expect the Seahawks to use a lot of play action to keep the secondary guessing.


Special Teams

Kicker: Matt Prater
Punter: Britton Colquitt
Kick Return: Trindon Holliday
Punt Return: Trindon Holliday/Eric Decker

Matt Prater was the only kicker in the league this year who had a better field goal percentage and scored more points than to-the-Hauschka and he also booted an (altitude-aided) NFL-record 64-yard field goal. On kickoffs, Prater had 81 touchbacks but Denver allowed 29.7 yards per return on non-touchbacks. Colquitt has been very consistent this season, averaging 45 yards per punt (66 punts total) with only three touchbacks and 23 punts inside the 20-yard line.

What to watch for: 5’5″ 150lb. Trindon Holliday is potentially a big difference maker in the kicking game as he returned one kick and one punt for a touchdown this year (105 yards and 81 yards respectively). He also had one each last year. He averaged 27.7 yards per kick return this year, had 21 kick returns of 20+ yards and averages 8.5 per punt return. The Seahawks need to win the field position battle and it starts with limiting Hollidays returns.

Is it Sunday yet? #GoHawks

11 Reasons I “Hate” the 49ers on #BlueFriday

Richard Sherman was recently asked why the 49ers and Seahawks hate each other so much. His answer was rather surprising.

sherman

Maybe it’s something unique to sports, but it seems that hatred toward another group of people is acceptable in a competitive environment. I hate the Lakers. I hate the Yankees. I hate USC. I hate the 49ers. Doesn’t it seem like, more often than not, people hate good teams? Maybe I should smile every time I hear somebody say they hate the Seahawks – it could be seen as a sign of respect.

During the past couple seasons as both the Seahawks and 49ers have risen to the top of the NFL, I have heard more and more Seahawks fans say “I HATE the Niners.” Granted, I have also uttered this phrase on occasion (often followed by the word “fans”), I think it’s important to discuss why I “hate” the 49ers. If you are going to hate something, there should be a valid reason… right?

No, I’m not talking about reasons like:

  • They suck
  • They are annoying
  • They are stupid
  • Just because

I’m talking about the legitimate reasons that a Seahawks fan would feel one of the many definitions of hate. Why do I hate the 49ers? Although it could be summed up in one sentence, that’s boring, so I figured I’d expand on that with a list.

I hate the 49ers because:

  • Their fans purchased a billboard in Seattle Fife, and all additional proceeds went to charity. Resulting, weeks later, in this awesome competition.
  • They finished the season 12-4 but only lost to playoff teams: Seattle, Indianapolis, Carolina, New Orleans.
  • Since Michael Crabtree returned, they are 7-0 and currently in the midst of an 8-game winning streak.
  • Jim Harbaugh passionately supports/defends his team even if it results in 15-yard penalties.
  • Harbaugh has won at every level he’s coached. First San Diego, then Stanford and now with San Francisco.
  • Despite what their Instagram pages show, Colin Kaepernick is not the horrible guy Seattle fans want to think he is.
  • While we have the Legion of Boom and the Seawall (D-Line), but the Niners have Glen Dorsey, Patrick Willis, NaVorro Bowman, Aldon Smith, Justin Smith, Ahmad Brooks and Dante Whitner on defense.
  • Frank Gore is still near the top of his game despite being 30 years old. He just rushed for 1000+ yards for the 7th time in his nine-year career.
  • Since Harbaugh took over for Mike Singletary, the Niners have won two NFC West titles in three years and made it to the NFC Championships in each of those three seasons.
  • Despite being the five-seed, San Fran beat the Packers on the road in sub-zero temps and then knocked off Carolina at home, knowing they’d have another shot to play the Seahawks in Seattle.
  • Yes, they have won five Super Bowls in franchise history and the Seahawks have only been to one Super Bowl…so far.

Bottom line: I hate the 49ers because they are so damn good and I would hope Niner fans hate the Seahawks for the same reason.

Does that mean I think they are better than the Seahawks? Hell no! But dammit, I do respect that team. Like the Seahawks, they play physical, but not dirty; they run their mouth, but also back it up. They are the Frazier to our Ali; the Randy Orton to our John Cena; the Cristiano Ronaldo to our Lionel Messi.

I could not imagine a more perfect opponent for the NFC Championship. NFL fans are in for a real treat on Sunday and it’s a good thing Monday is a holiday because I’m probably not the only one who’s going to be hungover.

Is it Sunday yet? #GoHawks.

11 Fun Facts on ‘Get Pumped Up’ Day

Hump Day is cancelled, today is Get Pumped Up Day.

Throughout my athletic career I’ve played “big games” at nearly every level. And looking back, it’s difficult to fully describe the range of emotions an athlete feels when they get pumped up for the biggest game of their season.

You know your emotions will be running wild but you can’t let them get the better of you. You are ready to explode with energy but need to control it so you don’t burn out. You are tired of waiting and eager to take the field, but you know that once you do you can’t hold anything back.

I don’t think I’ve ever been more pumped up for a sporting event than for this Sunday’s NFC Championship in Seattle. More so than any other time, this is the one game where I wish I was on that field playing for the home team.

Don’t feel the same way? Watch this video and try not to run through a brick wall once you’re done. Hell, I had trouble staying in my seat while watching this the first time.

I’ve had coworkers ask me if I’m “nervous” leading up to this game. It’s part of your standard water cooler sports conversations during the NFL season; ask an NFL fan about their team’s upcoming opponent, discussing their team’s chances of winning and then offer the typical “good luck” as you both head back to your cubicles.

I’m not so much nervous as I am extremely excited.

As a Seahawks fan, I know that our team has an opportunity to beat the “other” best team in the NFC, claim bragging rights and advance to our second Super Bowl in franchise history. As an NFL fan, you get to watch two teams that are almost statistically identical, that have fanbases who detest the other, and players and coaches who want nothing more than to shut up the opposition.

Division foes, playing for a conference championship. Is it Sunday yet?

  Pass YPG (Rank) Rush YPG(Rank)
Seattle Offense 202.3 (26) 136.8 (4)
San Francisco Offense 186.2 (30) 137.6 (3)
Seattle Defense 172 (1) 101.6 (7)
San Francisco Defense 221 (7) 95.9 (4)

11 Fun Facts

  • The Seahawks and the 49ers have played each other 30 times, never once in the playoffs, and the overall record for both teams is 15-15.
  • Pete Carroll and Jim Harbaugh have coached against each other nine times between college and the pros. Harbaugh holds the edge with a 6-3 record.
  • Pete Carroll’s Seahawks have won two NFC West titles in four seasons. Harbaugh’s Niners won the NFC West the other two seasons.
  • The Seahawks were the most penalized team in the league with 134 total penalties, San Fran had 111. However, the 49ers committed 49 pre-snap penalties to the Seahawks’ 46.
  • Seattle was the beneficiary of 106 penalties for 953 yards. San Francisco benefited from 107 penalties for 971 yards.
  • Frank Gore rushed for 1,128 yards on 4.1 yards per carry. Marshawn Lynch finished with 1,257 yards and 4.2 yards per carry.
  • Seattle gave up 44 sacks on Russell Wilson this year and also sacked opponents 44 times. San Fran gave up only 39 sacks on Colin Kaepernick and got to the opposing QB 38 times this year.
  • Six Seahawks have 20 or more catches and four have been targeted more than 40 times. Conversely, only three 49ers have 20 or more catches and only two have been targeted more than 40 times.
  • The Seahawk defense intercepted 28 passes, recovered 11 of 20 forced fumbles and scored three touchdowns. San Fran’s defense had 18 interceptions, recovered 11 of 13 forced fumbles and also scored three touchdowns.
  • San Fran’s kick/punt returners averaged 22.7 return yards per kickoff and 8.9 per punt. The Seahawks’ kick/punt returners had 21.2 return yards per kickoff and 11.1 per punt. Neither team had or allowed a punt or kick return touchdown.
  • Candlestick Park averaged 69,732 fans per 49er home game – 99.3 percent of it’s 70,207 person capacity. CenturyLink Field averaged 68,197 fans per Seahawk home game – 101.8 percent of its 67,000 person capacity.