PREGAME: We opined that the home crowd itself was a palpable third participant in the game. ... that CLink fans would affect the game was not news, but SSI put the Seahawks' chances at a diamond-hard 40% because of the stadium.
80-90% of Vegas bettors flocked to Atlanta at -4.5 points, but this was a serious misjudgment on their part, crunched SSI.
POSTGAME: Bill James once "solved" the mystery of baseball strike politics for me by pointing out that there is a three-team dynamic in every strike-negotiation game.
It's not owners vs. players. It's players vs. big-market owners vs. small-market owners. You understand the battle a lot better when you think of it as a 3-man free-for-all.
Something similar occurs in football, at times. Super Bowl XL had three teams, not two. ... And at CLink, there are often three distinct sides competing. The Atlanta 30, Seahawks 28 game was one of the greatest examples of this. Despite being down 27-7, the Seahawks crawled out of the coffin with an almost supernatural will to win.
... They got refs' calls, especially uncalled defensive pass interference plays on several third downs, that they wouldn't have gotten in Atlanta. ... the Seahawks boldly threw the ball down the field. ... they played through the pain of injuries, unlucky turnovers and unlikely cliffhangers (such as the Falcons' converted third downs VERY late in the game).
The vibe to the game was almost paranormal, almost as if a spiritual entity had a preference (not insistence) that the Seahawks win, and that vibe is due to the non-paranormal fact that mammals fight better when they're on their own rightful territory, defending their homeland against invaders.
Dogs don't fight well when they know they're in the neighbor's yard, and the psychic vibe from the people in the stands instills a very deep subconscious impression -- on both teams -- that the Seahawks should rightfully win.
Wasn't it amazing, by the way, to watch Matt Ryan successfully direct all those audibles on Sunday? I didn't realize that was possible at 130 decibels. Ryan possible'd it.
PREGAME. SSI allowed the Seahawks the 40% chance to pull the game out, and if so, that they'd be in the playoff hunt most of the year.
POSTGAME. Sometimes even if you win, you lose .... but sometimes you lose a battle, and win the war.
I'd much rather see the Seahawks lose, while putting up a discussion-changing performance, than see them grovel to a win the way they did last week.
The Seahawks are -2 games behind SF. The return SF-Seattle game is a must win, a must win in the sense that "you lose that game, you can't win the division." So grant me that game, and the Seahawks are -1 game down with 12 to go.
We coulda been watching a 4-14 team, battling for an Andrew Luck draft slot, the way that the true NFL blogs overwhelmingly said we would be. ... instead, we are watching a rawhide-tough defense, we're watching a QB who has got time in the pass pocket, and we're watching the first dynamic Seattle receiver corps since at least 2007.
The Seahawks are a lot better than we thought they'd be. I'm down with that.