As the Wildcard round of the playoffs was taking place, the Seattle Seahawks and their fans had to sit back and watch all the games unfold before they got to see who they would play. The Cardinals went on the road to Carolina and suffered a loss that sent their hopes of playing the first Superbowl home game up in flames. The Detroit Lions seemed to have the Dallas Cowboys beat and looked ready to punch their ticket to the Pacific Northwest. After some controversial calls, and a late Cowboys come back, Detroit lost 24-20. The Seahawks have had to travel the 2856 miles the last three times the two teams have played. Thanks to locking up the Number one seed, the Seahawks will finally get a crack at the Panthers with home field advantage.
The Seahawks and Panthers have become very familiar with one another over the last three seasons. The two teams have played each other once a season since 2012. Every year that Quarterback Russell Wilson has been at the helm, he has gone to Carolina and walked with a very hard-fought victory.
In 2012, Wilson’s first season as quarterback, Seattle was able to get a 1 6-12 lead. The win was the first road win for the team that season, and proved to be a turning point for the team as a whole. The very next game, Russell Wilson was able to score a fourth quarter comeback victory over Tom Brady and the New England Patriots.
In 2013, the Seahawks opened the season on the road against the Panthers. This time the Panthers were able to keep the Seahawks out of the end zone with their incredible defense. The Seahawks were still able to walk away with a 12-7 victory though.
In 2014, it was the Seahawks who were able to keep the Panthers out of the end zone. Despite some fourth quarter heroics from Cam Newton avoiding a sack that would have given the Seahawks a safety and an amazing catch by rookie receiver Kelvin Benjamin, the Panthers never crossed the goal line.
The Panthers come into the playoffs with a record of 7-8-1. The first team since the 2010 Seahawks to win their division despite having a losing record. The Panthers won their first playoff game under Cam Newton, and held the Cardinals to just 78 total yards. This is the lowest total offense ever put up in an NFL Playoff game. The Cardinals looked pretty good against third string quarterback Ryan Lindley and the offense was clicking enough to get a big victory.
The Seahawks come into the game well rested. They clinched the number one seed in back to back years for the first time in franchise history. Seattle is home to one of the best home field advantages in all of sports. The stadium and the fans have set world records for noise levels, Marshawn Lynch caused an earthquake in their 2010 playoff game against the Saints, and the game sold out in less than five minutes.
If your team is one of the eight teams still alive in the playoffs, the feeling of hope and excitement is something that cannot be measured. Rather you’re a Seahawks fan hoping to win back to back Superbowls, a Broncos fan trying to avenge the ugly loss in Superbowl 48, a Patriots fan trying to prove that Tom Brady still has it, or a Packers fan still just relaxing, January is a good time.
Both number one seeds play on Saturday with the New England Patriots hosting the Baltimore Ravens at 1:35PM and the Seahawks hosting the Panthers at 5:15PM. Sunday will open up with the Packers hosting the Cowboys at 10:05AM with the Broncos and the Colts ending the weekend at 1:40PM. The winners of each game will advance to their respective conference championship games on Sunday, January 18.
Commentary by Andy Lapic
Photo By Seattle Municipal Archives –Flickr License