It wasn't a very good week for control freaks. In fact, this controlling your own destiny thing has been a real pain in the Rumpus Society lately. The Seahawks controlled their own destiny for a whole week leading up to Sunday's game against the New York Jets, needing only to beat a team headed nowhere to clinch the AFC West crown and a postseason berth. So of course they lost.
Immediately following Seattle's 19-9 defeat, the Kansas City Chiefs controlled their own destiny for about half an hour, needing only to hold onto a late 38-35 lead at home against the Oakland Raiders to win the division. The Chiefs had won 19 of the last 21 meetings and hadn't lost to the Raiders at Arrowhead Stadium for more than a decade. So of course they lost.
Pro football players weren't the only ones choking on Sunday. Our good friends at KIRO TV 7 decided to switch coverage to a completely meaningless Miami-Washington contest moments after the Raiders' Joe Nedney kicked a tying field goal late in the Oakland-KC game. When 3,000 irate viewers from Kenmore called to cancel their subscriptions, our local affiliate relented, switching back to the meaningful game just in time to see KC's Pete Stoyanovich miss a 45-yarder as the fourth quarter ended.
By the time Nedney's 33-yard field goal sailed through the uprights to give Oakland a 41-38 win in OT, the AFC West hot potato had cooled off enough for the Seahawks to hang onto. Somebody had to win the division and make the playoffs. Why not the 9-7 Seahawks?
Our boys in blue took back first place in the AFC West and broke a four-game losing skid with a 23-14 victory over KC the previous week. That game, the last-ever regular season contest in the Kingdome, was an easy win for the Seahawks. Why? The players had been brainwashed into thinking that Paul Allen controlled their destiny, so the pressure was off. As soon as the Hawks figured out they controlled their own destiny against the Jets they slipped on every banana peel in New Jersey.
The most important win of the season wasn't a nail-chomper at all. It was a blowout, a laugher. Then again, that's to be expected of my fantasy football team, which racked up yet another league title at the same time the Seahawks were defeating the Chiefs in Week 16. Winning all the time may seem a bit trite, but I have a reputation for invincibility to uphold.
The Dolphins and Seahawks backed into the playoffs with an ease that would make a Teamster proud. No one seemed to want the AFC West crown or the conference's final wild-card berth. The Seahawks lost five out of their last six and they end up hosting a playoff game. Ain't this country great? Who needs momentum when you can stagger into the postseason?
Sunday afternoon's wild-card game against the Dolphins will be the last football game ever played in the Kingdome. Really. We're not kidding this time. There is a remote scenario that would bring one more playoff game back to Seattle this season; however, it's more likely the WTO will make a return visit.
And there's even some history brewing that doesn't involve blowing up a stadium. This will likely be the last game for Miami's Dan Marino, arguably the greatest NFL quarterback to never lead his team to a championship. After losing this week Marino will join Dan Fouts, Fran Tarkenton, and Y.A. Tittle in the pantheon of truly great NFL quarterbacks who couldn't quite get it done. Sorry, Dan. No Coors commercials for you.
Desperately needing inspiration after allowing New York's Curtis Martin to run for 158 yards, the underachieving Seahawk defense is resorting to unprecedented measures to restore their shattered self-esteem. Each player has adopted the mantra of Seattle Mayor Paul Schell, repeating 100 times after each practice, "I am not a wuss." After managing only three field goals against the Jets, Seattle's offensive players have adopted the mantra: "I might not be a wuss."
Miami's running game should be just bad enough, and Marino's arm just old enough, for the Seahawk defense to control the Dolphins. Coach Jimmy Johnson won't be a genius very much longer if he doesn't win a postseason game in Miami sometime soon. Fortunately for Seahawk fans, it won't happen this week.
I have guaranteed a postseason appearance for the Seahawks all year long, despite their bad start against the Lions and Bears and their horrible finish, and this week you will witness my vindication. This is Seattle's first playoff game since 1988 and it will be their first playoff win since 1984. I know the Seahawks control their own destiny again, but don't worry. So do the Dolphins, and they'll choke last.