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Originally published January 19, 2013 at 8:03 PM | Page modified January 19, 2013 at 10:40 PM

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Euphoric Seahawks ride ends too soon

This Sunday there is no game day for Seattle, and I get the sense the city has been mired all week in a post-traumatic funk.

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On the contrary, I find myself and most of my fellow Seahawks fans to be rather upbeat.... MORE
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Something's not right. You can sense it the minute you open your eyes. There's no hurry to get out of bed. In fact, you're feeling so groggy and lazy and sad you might just spend all day in bed.

For most of the past four months, there has been that giddy feeling of excitement on Sundays. You didn't need an alarm clock. You awoke early, and quickly you were wide-awake and wondering if you ever really slept. Your heart was thrumming harder and faster than normal.

It was game day and as summer slipped into fall and fall finally darkened into winter, even as you welcomed in a new year, the games you couldn't wait to watch got increasingly important and your sense of excitement and anticipation, worry and anxiety grew dramatically.

If the definition of happiness is having something delicious to look forward to, then these past few months have been euphoric.

They were so good they could have made up for the pay raise you didn't get, the final you didn't ace, the late-night flat tire you had, the check that bounced or the cold you couldn't shake.

I've always thought that the hours leading up to game day were the best parts of being a fan. On game day the senses seem sharper. Colors are brighter. The rain never feels as depressing, and the sun somehow is brighter.

For real fans there is the idea that, no matter what else we have to endure on that day, we've got the game to watch. We have that sweet tortuous adventure to share.

But this weekend had no game day for Seahawks fans. This past week all we got was a delayed confession from Lance Armstrong that didn't make anybody feel any better and a sad say-what admission from Manti Te'o about a girlfriend who didn't exist.

A chat with Oprah and a hoax exposed by Deadspin, that was this last week in sports. That's that tawdry side of the games from which the Seahawks' season of success had allowed us to escape.

But all of the great days from September into January, all of the moments that bloomed almost every Sunday (and one unforgettable Monday night) ended in about 15 seconds of agony in Atlanta. Two passes and a cold-blooded 49-yard field goal from Matt Bryant, which made you wish Scott Norwood had come out of retirement to kick for the Falcons, left fans in this city stunned and disbelieving.

This Sunday there is no game day for Seattle, and I get the sense the city has been mired all week in a post-traumatic funk. There is an empty feeling here this weekend.

You may watch, but you won't have any emotion invested in Sunday's NFC Championship Game between San Francisco and Atlanta. You won't have that flutter in your gut. You won't be taking that sadistic roller-coaster ride that, for some three hours, violently flings your emotions every which way.

The Seahawks' season is done.

And that's why on this game day, in those first marshmallowy moments of consciousness after many of you awake, you'll have that vague feeling that something is wrong.

This football season was one of the great surprises in Seattle's sports history. This time last year, Russell Wilson was little more than a name to Seahawks fans. Nobody was thinking of him as the missing link in the Seahawks' return to prominence. But Wilson was a superhero. He was the kind of protagonist you would expect to find in an inspirational novel intended for sixth graders, the all-star as allegory.

He became a sensation. He's the kind of player a coach waits his entire career to mentor. And he's the kind of player an entire city can adopt.

Nothing, of course, is guaranteed, but the Seahawks should return next summer even better than they were this season and the temperature of their rivalry with San Francisco will get even hotter. I'm not sure the long-term future of any team ever in Seattle has been as bright as this franchise's is.

But Sunday, when you open your eyes and the last tufts of sleep float away and you remember that the Falcons, not the Seahawks, are playing the Niners with a trip to the Super Bowl in the balance, when you remember that the TV-watching party you were planning a little more than a week ago has been canceled, that wave of disappointment will be undeniable.

This season ended just when it was beginning to feel that Seattle might be hosting its first championship parade since 1979. It ended with all of the shocking suddenness of a car wreck.

And next September can't come fast enough.

Steve Kelley: 206-464-2176 or skelley@seattletimes.com

More columns at www.seattletimes.com/columnists

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