Time to face reality — the Seahawks are legit
Red Bryant was 323 pounds of jolly, high-stepping into the end zone. It was his Deion Sanders impression. He wanted to take it further...
Seattle Times staff columnist
CHICAGO — Red Bryant was 323 pounds of jolly, high-stepping into the end zone. It was his Deion Sanders impression. He wanted to take it further, but instead he got caught in the moment, stopped and did a belly-roll dance.
Primetime, he was not. Michael Jackson, he was not. Heck, Ellen DeGeneres, he was not. But when a man goes by Big Red, he doesn't expect to do much dancing in the end zone. So bear with him.
"That's a fat kid's dream right there," Bryant said of his touchdown.
And now, it's a reality. So stop rubbing your eyes.
What you saw Sunday can be trusted — everything from the Big Man Boogie to the shockingly lopsided 38-14 final score.
With 31 unanswered points in the second half, the Seahawks recovered from a poor first half, routed the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field and established themselves as more than a bad team streaking at the end of a lost season.
The Seahawks are a legitimate, solid football team with a chance to make an incredible comeback this season. They have climbed from a 2-6 record to a 7-7 mark. They have reached .500 for the first time in more than a year. To do so, they beat up on a beat-up team, showing little mercy, winning on the road without a great performance from their best offensive player.
Marshawn Lynch, who entered the game with three consecutive 100-yard rushing performances, was limited to 42 by the Bears. So, the Seahawks adjusted, went to the air and dominated against an elite defense. After a disastrous first half, quarterback Tarvaris Jackson completed 15 of 19 passes and threw for 176 of his 227 yards in the second half. The defense forced five turnovers and returned two interceptions for touchdowns, including Bryant's rumble.
You could shrug it off and caution that the Bears were without starting quarterback Jay Cutler and running back Matt Forte. Or you could look more closely at the mounting evidence — five victories in the past six games — and acknowledge the Seahawks have learned how to win, at home and on the road. The latter legitimizes this streak.
"This will help people understand that it actually is real," said wide receiver Ben Obomanu, who had a huge 43-yard reception on the Seahawks' opening drive in the third quarter. "Outside people have been criticizing us, saying that we're winning because the opponent has had tough games because they've had to travel all the way out to Seattle for a Thursday night game or a Monday night game. They don't realize we're doing the things we need to be a good team — great defense, a physical, run-first offense, solid special teams.
"Winning here, in Chicago, it kind of puts a stamp on what coach Carroll is preaching. The reality is, we've improved. And the reality is, we have all our goals intact."
The most-discussed goal, of course, is an improbable playoff berth. The Seahawks need to win their final two games and receive significant help from the football gods. They're two games out of a wild-card spot with two games remaining.
But this team isn't chasing the postseason as much as it is fulfilling its mission to finish the season properly. The Seahawks are playing against their own standard. They fell so far behind early in the season that they were allowed to put their heads down and worry only about today. Now, they've won enough todays to climb out of the hole. The only thing left to do is complete the task. The challenge is such an internal one that the Seahawks barely feel any external pressure.
They're having fun. The Seahawks are a most chipper .500 team. Because they're young, some players are experiencing NFL success for the first time. The breakthroughs bring joy to this rebuilding. You feel like you're watching the early development of a perennial contender. The growth is evident, even when it comes to Bryant's interception returns.
Last month, he intercepted a pass in St. Louis and showed an impressive stiff arm. This time, he caught the pass, which linebacker K.J. Wright tipped, and saw an open field.
"He's improved," running back Justin Forsett said. "This time, he didn't get touched. He didn't need to use any stiff arm, and I love the high step. He definitely created a lot of separation.
"People underestimate his athleticism, man."
People underestimate his team, too. A few more wins, though, and the Seahawks won't be lacking respect.
Jerry Brewer: 206-464-2277 or email@example.com. On Twitter @Jerry_Brewer.
About Jerry Brewer
Jerry Brewer offers a unique perspective on the world of sports.
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