It’s easy to hate Pete Carroll: If college football were World War II, he’d be Italy. (“Ooh you tweet the songs you listen to? You know who else does that? Eleven year olds.”) It is, I discovered today, easy to hate Seattle, when you spend all week listening to raptures about their incredible noisy fans. Why the fans are so hyper I don’t know, but possibly it’s from all that coffee they drink there. (Also, I’m not convinced that a seahawk is a real animal. It sounds made up and Word doesn’t recognize it) It’s easy to hate NBC when, as they did today, they describe the Bengals as “pesky,” as if NBC were the creepy fairground owner in Scooby Doo.
Rome Simpson getting into a fight on the field is now as predictable as wearing a “Heath Ledger Joker” costume to a Halloween party. Fortunately, inspired by Adam Jones’s brief but exhilarating return to the NFL, Simpson channeled his anger productively and we stormed into a 10-0 lead. Which was fortunate because Andy Dalton was about to discover the other side of ESPN’s Top Ten when he accidentally threw the ball directly backwards towards his own goal line for no particular reason. The officials were kind enough to invoke the (utterly mental) Tuck rule to save his blushes. The fighting spirit—at least in the Bengals receiving corps—had not diminished as Andre Caldwell attacked the Seahawks secondary with a gentle open-palmed slap to the face-mask, or, as the French call it, “a punch.”
Perhaps this was just the Seahawks’ (I looked it up. There is no bird called a “seahawk.” “Sea Hawk”—two words—is a nickname for an Osprey. This is like Chicago’s football team being called “The Teddies.” Of course, The Ospreys would have to play somewhere beginning with O. The Orlando Ospreys perhaps. That’d be better.) way of intimidating us. And, indeed, they play under the banner “Welcome to False Start City,” though frankly you have to feel that their tourist board isn’t really putting in the effort there to encourage small businesses. Not compared to “Home of Disney World” anyway.
I’m digressing I can tell. Andy Dalton threw an absolute gem of a pass to A.J. Green for 18’s fifth touchdown of the year, and the defense swarmed all over Seattle: the famous crowd drawing as many penalties from the home side as the away. When Seattle’s decision to go for a touchdown in the final seconds of the half backfired thanks to a great goal-line stand and a cheeky back-hell from the soccer-loving Peko, it was delightful to see the vein on Pete “uber-cool” Carroll’s forehead pushed close to bursting.
Though the offense sputtered in the second half, compounded by a couple of Dalton picks, and our defense oscillated between abject stinginess and the concession of big passing plays, special teams carried us through: a clutch field goal from Mike Nugent, a dazzling punt return touchdown from Brandon Tate (the first of his career) and, finally, a Reggie Nelson TAINT sealed the deal. Dunlap and Rucker got in key sacks and the Bengals pulled through. Most critics didn’t have us winning five games all year—last year we couldn’t. This year we’ve done it before November. Sure, the ease of the schedule will plummet with the temperature but for now, Andy Dalton and Co. are 5-2, joint top of the division and only a brutal run of games, national cynicism, and my potential liver failure away from glory…
Final Score: Seahawks 12, Bengals 34