The Biggest Advantage: Confidence

The seismic crowd support helps, but the Seahawks’ Monday night thrashing of New Orleans proved that the players’ self-belief—go ahead, call it cockiness—is their greatest strength

By
Jim Trotter
· More from Jim·
New Orleans had no answer for Russell Wilson, who ran and threw circles around the Saints’ defense. (Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
New Orleans had no answer for Russell Wilson, who outplayed his hero Drew Brees and ran and threw circles around the Saints’ defense. (Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)

SEATTLE — With 6:27 to go in the first quarter Monday night, the ground shook beneath CenturyLink Field, where defensive end Michael Bennett grabbed a fumble out of the air and returned it 22 yards for a touchdown. Four and a half minutes later, when Zach Miller’s two-yard catch pushed the Seahawks’ lead to 17-0 over the Saints, the ground shook again. Only this time it was beneath the NFC.

The Seahawks turned what was supposed to be a showdown into a beatdown, dominating the Saints 34-7 and serving notice that the NFC’s road to the Super Bowl will almost certainly go through the Pacific Northwest, where Seattle has won its last 14 games by an average of 31-13. When the demolition of New Orleans was complete and All-Pro QB Drew Brees had been held to 147 yards passing, his lowest total in seven years, the only ones who walked away unimpressed were the Seahawks.

“I’m not just saying this because it happened,” opined safety Earl Thomas, “but this is what we envisioned to happen.”

“All we proved is that we are the team we’ve been all year,” said cornerback Richard Sherman. “I mean, if people saw something else or hadn’t watched the film, then maybe they were impressed today. But as a team we saw what we usually see.”

All we proved is that we are the team we’ve been all year. — Richard Sherman

The Seahawks are walking that fine line between confidence and cockiness. They know they’re good and don’t have a problem telling you. They talked the same way last season, but there was a sense they were trying to convince themselves as much as everyone else after four straight non-winning seasons.

This year’s there’s no uncertainty. They’ve won seven in a row, are 11-1 overall and have essentially a three-game lead over Carolina and New Orleans with four to play—Seattle is two games ahead in the standings and holds the tiebreakers—in the race for home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. The Seahawks’ last three wins have been by an aggregate 108-37, and their last two at home have been decided by a count of 75-27.

Monday night they dominated despite being without two of their top three cornerbacks and dynamic all-purpose wideout Percy Harvin. That type of depth combined with the noise created by the league’s loudest outdoor crowd makes it practically impossible to imagine anyone beating them at CenturyLink Field in the playoffs.

The crowd noise forces teams such as the Saints—who have one of the league’s more creative passing games—to be more static with their formations. They struggle to make adjustments at the line of scrimmage or use shifts and motions with regularity. In essence the noise forces opponents to line up and run the play that’s called, reducing each down to your best against their best. The Seahawks don’t believe yours is better than theirs.

The practical effect of the crowd noise at CenturyLink is to prevent opponents from audibling or getting exotic, forcing them instead into more basic schemes. (Elaine Thompson/AP)
The practical effect of the crowd noise at CenturyLink is to prevent opponents from audibling or getting exotic, forcing them instead into more basic schemes. (Elaine Thompson/AP)

“We never let anybody dictate what we’re going to do,” Thomas said. “We’ve got Pro Bowl players back there. We’ve got special players. We’re not like everybody else. We prepare better than anybody. And the crowd—offenses can’t do what they want to do. They can’t communicate. They can’t get exotic. They have to kind of stay basic or within themselves because of the crowd. We have a hard time communicating, too, but we’re used to it. In practice we just use hand signals, and we have chemistry so we can kind of feel where everybody will be. …[But] we do what we always do: single safety high, challenge the quarterback, challenge with our corners. Tonight we made them look normal.”

The Seahawks’ confidence stems from their work during the week. Their practices are uptempo and intense. Players work as if they’re trying to earn a roster spot and hold individuals accountable when mistakes are made.

“We’re challenging each other like it’s training camp each day,” says tackle Russell Okung. “Guys just want to be so far ahead of the competition, and really what’s happening is that the things we do in practice are translating onto the field in games. All the work we’re putting in is really coming to fruition. We’re harping on the fundamentals and getting back to the things that are important, and it’s showing. It took us a while to get into it because of injuries and things, but it’s coming. I love my team.”

And They’re Deep, Too

Peter King’s On Further Review looks at the backups who have stepped to the forefront for the surging Seahawks. Plus the Tuesday mailbag.

What’s not for him to love? The Seahawks took what was widely considered the second-best team in the NFC and made it look like a scout unit. Officially the game ended at 11:50 last night, but unofficially it was over midway through the first quarter when Miller’s touchdown caused a nearby seismometer to register a magnitude 1 or 2 earthquake.

The Saints did not achieve a first down until their fourth possession (remember they had 40 several weeks ago against Dallas), gained only 127 yards on 40 plays through three quarters, and had absolutely no answer for quarterback Russell Wilson, who frustrated them with his mobility and accuracy. The second-year pro consistently scrambled out of danger and was 14 of 19 for 226 yards and two scores in the opening half alone. He finished 22 of 30 for 310 yards and three scores on the evening.

He texted coach Pete Carroll the night before the game and said he thought the team had its best week of practice in his two years with the club. Then he carried it over to the field.

Even if they were somehow to lose home-field—the Seahawks are at the 49ers and Giants the next two weeks, then home against the Cardinals and Rams—there would be no lack of confidence. “It doesn’t matter where we go,” Okung said. “We’ll play people anywhere. I don’t care if we play them on concrete. We’ll play them anywhere and still get the same result.”

You can pretty much stick a spike in other team’s home-field hopes—the Seahawks have a two-game lead in the NFC with four to play—and their final two are in Seattle. (Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
You can pretty much stick a spike in other team’s home-field hopes—the Seahawks have a two-game lead in the NFC with four to play—and their final two are in Seattle. (Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
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96 comments
ProperTactics
ProperTactics

The Seahawks no longer need to win any road games. With four games remaining, we could lose to the 49ers and the giants, beat the cardinals and rams at home, and still be the number 1 seed. SUPER BOWL BABY!!!

JoshuaSchmidt
JoshuaSchmidt

Haters will always exist in sports, politics, and life. I try not pay attention to these petulant children. Because responding is validation. The Seahawks are the best, period. And if they go 18-1, they will be tied for best football team of all time, along with the pats and dolphins. Let the hatet chatter begin............

FredFlintsone
FredFlintsone

Not same team away as at home 12-7 win at  Carolina 23-20 ,OT win at Houston, loss to Indy, 14-9 at St Louis, lowly vikings put up 20 on em at Minnesota. Last yrs playoffs game Atlanta put up 30 on them at Atlanta. Super bowl is in NJ this yr, good thing for other teams

AndrewGray
AndrewGray

It sure is funny how everyone wants to knock the Hawks for everything that have done this year.  The fact is they are clearly the best team in football and when they want to they can and will dominate any team in the NFL.  I don't care if you have Rogers, Manning , Brady or Brees, we have the best secondary in the game.  Earl Thomas is the best safety and Sherman is the best cover corner there is.  If you don't believe that the Hawks are the best and you can't admit it, your just being stupid and ignorant like Dilfer.  Right now I would take Wilson over any of the mentioned QB's because he has the IT factor and will win multiple SB.   

AndrewGray
AndrewGray

Sure because Jeff, smoking pot makes you so much better. 

Jeff_Scott
Jeff_Scott

Confidence via a variety of drug use.

Baconpizza
Baconpizza

Did my comment really get erased for saying "filler article?"  Children, please.

Baconpizza
Baconpizza

Filler article.  Let's talk when the playoffs start, or better yet, re-post this article when they finish.

josef918
josef918

I think I could root for Seattle if it weren't for Richard Sherman.  Boy do I despise that guy.

ShannonStaats
ShannonStaats

As a Seahawks fan living in Denver I take a little offense to Seattle not being relevant in last couple of years. We knocked out the Saints in 2010 and came within 27 seconds of playing for NFC title last year not to mention the 7 straight years we won the west. We control our own destiny and if the REFS don't screw us over ( see Super Bowl 2006) then we are the best right now. Till someone comes into Seattle and beats us we are #1. yes we had close games this year but a win is a win right? At the end of the days it's the amount of wins and not how much you won by. And didn't we start on a roll last year about this same time? So all you hates beware!! We are here and as long as we have Wilson we are always going to be ion that conversation.


P.S.  

When was the last time the Pats or Jets actually won a super bowl? Let it go guys. 

Mech
Mech

Seattle is the best team in the NFL,,,, just fact, Sure they had a few ugly games but over the course of a season everyone does. Are they beatable.... of course they are,,,,, its just gonna take a really good team with a lotta luck to beat them because talent-wise they are the best. When you travel 3000 miles for a game that starts at 7am your time, some times its hard to get started. So you east coast prognosticators bring your teams in here and we will destroy them,,,, you might score at your home, you might get lucky but 11-1 speaks for itself. Seattle has been fighting refs and pundits on paper for years, now we have the firepower and you don't want to believe it,,,step up.

benseattle
benseattle

Okay, Peter King, I know you don't control the entire World Wide Webby, but MMQB is your deal so how about better policing of the junk your site features.


At the bottom of your article about the Seahawks' confidence and crowd, there is a series of headlines on the right side of the page, including one that says the following:


Stunner Katherine Webb Splits From Superstar Football Boyfriend AJ McCarron

A click on the link goes to the dubious RadarOnline and features a purely speculative article tossed together in SEPTEMBER.   Hmmm... nobody saw Webb offer McCarron an "I'm sorry" immediately following Bama's Iron Bowl defeat at Auburn this past weekend?

Please know I couldn't care less about Sports Gossip, but your beloved website credibility suffers when you allow absurd crap on the front page.  Including links to fabricated "news" that is both Old and Untrue does MMQB readers a disservice.

JimKelly
JimKelly

@JoshuaSchmidt 49ers and Bears went 18-1.

I agree with what you say. You made me laugh. After reading the "petulant children" comment, I noticed your avatar.

JakeMeulink
JakeMeulink

@FredFlintsone Yeah you're right, they don't destroy people on the road.  They just win.  Last year was last year.  This team is 5-1 on the road.

Jeff_Scott
Jeff_Scott

@AndrewGray They are hacks. pete "Botox Man" carroll is the reason I hate this team. The guy is the most crooked azzclown to come down the line in a long time.

Iowa
Iowa

@Jeff_Scott It absolutely is a fair question. More than a couple of these guys have been busted for PEDs since Carroll took over. When as many  have been caught as were on one team, and at the same time said team practically comes out of nowhere as a contender the past 2 years...people have every right to wonder exactly how many have been on them and haven't been caught.

RalphF
RalphF

@josef918 I'm guessing you don't live near the Seattle community.  If you knew him better, you would like him. Seriously.  He's one of those guys that is super intelligent, is great, great, great for the community, and is super confident and loud because he intends to bring attention to a great city (and team) that usually doesn't get much respect because it is so far removed from the rest of the country and the many Americans who never think about it because they don't travel more than 100 miles from their own backyards.

Jeff_Scott
Jeff_Scott

@ShannonStaats And that is why the seahacks are enjoying all the defensive holding no-calls now. Super Bowl 2006whatever#. All because they have an owner with deep pockets. If you know what I mean.

Jeff_Scott
Jeff_Scott

@ShannonStaats Packers beat the seahacks last year. But you seahack fans don't live in a world of reality.

jj55
jj55

@ShannonStaats  15 yard penalty for inserting the Most Overused New Sports Word of 2013:

"Relevant."


RyanP429
RyanP429

@ShannonStaats  When was the last time the Seahawks won the superbowl?!?! Sorry was a very confusing rant...got no problem with the Seahawks and wouldnt bother me if they won but the regular season means nothing once everyone becomes 0-0 again in the playoffs and yes they have the nice home field advantage but that crowd was pretty quiet wen the 0 fer half the season Bucs jumped all over em and even though I like their chances to come out of the NFC to get to the superbowl they lose their crowd for that game and it only takes a hot team and a couple crazy plays to have it all come crashing down and you can reference that same  Patriots team u speak of wen they were just as dominant ( and more so) in 2007 until the Giants cut em down and that doesn't even factor in that they have no players with superbowl experience which they cant prepare for till they actually live it...wouldn't look past that Panther team either that got very close to beating Hawks in week 1 before they were even playing that well yet. If I were a seahawk fan I wouldnt be calling out fans for other teams for how long its been since they won the superbowl when they at least have (sure the Jets only once a million years ago) when the Seahawks since their creation in 1976 have only made it to and lost that one superbowl in 06


PS Cant blame refs on losses cause if the team did enough to win the game while its being played the refs cant ever come into play

Ron33
Ron33

@benseattle I can't believe that anyone clicks on Ads or untopically related article links displayed beside articles that brought them to a particular page. Clicking on such nonsense only encourages the powers that be that this is a way to generate revenue,...just say "No!"

Akarik
Akarik

@benseattle 

Why are you clicking on ads? And why are you posting the link again?

anon76
anon76

@benseattle 

Relax, MMQB does not control the ads that are shown on their own website, nor does any website.

ProperTactics
ProperTactics

I think you want to f##k Pete

Hahahaha! You's got a pertty mouf boy.

mike202
mike202

@Iowa @Jeff_Scott    You mean like the Broncos with 6 PED suspensions in the last 2 years, or the Giants with 5?

Jeff_Scott
Jeff_Scott

@unitcaptain11 @josef918  How about the interview with Skip Bayless. He said "I'm better than life, then you." How about that for starters? The guy has the perfect mind for the welfare sucking pot smoking libtard seattle area. He fits right in.

gregatacd
gregatacd

@Jeff_Scott @ShannonStaats Indeed, the Pack should have had the W for the FailMary game. At least at the end of the season it made no difference in the standings, so lets let it go already. 

AntóinBray
AntóinBray

@RyanP429 @ShannonStaats hey even john madden said the seahawks won that Superbowl. but the refs were against us so we loss. john madden quit because of that game

RalphF
RalphF

@Ron33 @benseattle Because some of those "ads" come packaged as misleading links that could be SI articles.  It's deceptive, increasing in volume across legitimate websites, and I agree with the OP here.

DanielBraunstein
DanielBraunstein

@Jeff_Scott @unitcaptain11 @josef918 Do you even know what your talking about? California gives out more Welfare than any state in the U.S. Know your facts before you open your mouth. Sherman, I agree. Some people on the team learn from their mistakes at least on field. After Tate got the unsportsmanlike like conduct call its pretty clear he got a talking to. He doesn't celebrate as much and usually walks away immediately after the play. Last night he almost lost his cool, I've been watching. I love this great state and this team, and unlike you I understand every franchise has its issues. 6 PED/SubAbuse violations for Seattle since 2012 that is something that needs to be addressed. The redskins have five, and the Rams have 4. Whatever those to teams are taking isn't working for them.

mike202
mike202

@Rumrunner11  Sounds like Jeff is Butthurt from California.  Who does he think will pay the Golden States Bankruptcy bill?

sherry
sherry

@Jeff_Scott @unitcaptain11 @josef918 Yeah cause Boeing doesn't really count for much.  I don't know what backwash Podunk land you hail from, but you obviously don't know anything about Seattle.  Run along & let the adults converse

Jeff_Scott
Jeff_Scott

@unitcaptain11 @Jeff_Scott @josef918 Unfortunate for you that my comment called you out. Want to know more stupid crap your so called savior said? All one needs to do is use Google. And you need to pay taxes up there because you have the most sponges in the country. What? You think the money is going to come from California to feed the welfare potheads up there in Washigton?

unitcaptain11
unitcaptain11

@Jeff_Scott @unitcaptain11 @josef918  

Your comment is unfortunate and ignorant.  People in Seattle and the State of Washington contribute more in tax money to our great United States of America than the "non liberal" states do.  Look it up.

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