Style points don’t count for much in the NFL and that’s a good thing for the two-time defending NFC champion Seattle Seahawks, a number of which thanked their deities, be they religious, other-worldly or football related, for Blair Walsh’s missed 27-yard chip shot on Sunday, one that almost certainty would have sent the ‘Hawks home for the winter.
Logic, of course, says nothing contributed to Walsh’s badly hooked attempt at a virtual gimmee other than the sub-zero temperatures in Minneapolis, a poor hold and perhaps the pressure of the moment.
That said, whether the Seahawks won by one or in the most fluky way possible or by four-touchdowns it doesn’t mean much now as they prepare to move on against the 15-1 Carolina Panthers, the No. 1 seed on the NFC side of the playoffs.
Seattle’s much-vaunted defense kept them in the game against Minnesota as the offense struggled to mount much without a consistent running game.
In fact, against a very stingy defense in the challenging conditions, the ‘Hawks only real big play offensively came on a botched snap when the Vikings’ impressive front forgot who they were playing for a split second and it cost them.
Most quarterbacks would have given themselves up to dive on the football after a snap sailed by their left ear but Russell Wilson scooped it up and blitzing cornerback Captain Munnerlyn lost contain, allowing the signal caller to find rookie receiver Tyler Lockett for a 35-yard gain inside the Minnesota five-yard line. A potential 20-yard loss turned into the game’s only touchdown and the rest of the dominoes fell from there.
Ultimately, depending on what side of the fence your loyalties lay, you may have called Seattle’s win on Sunday luck or perseverance. What’s undeniable, though, is another performance like that isn’t going to fly against Cam Newton and Co. in Charlotte.
And that brings us to the status of star running back Marshawn Lynch.
It’s conceivable that Pete Carroll was trying to play mind games with Mike Zimmer and the Vikings leading up to Wild Card Weekend, but the prevailing wisdom is that the Seahawks expected the enigmatic former All-Pro running back to return for the first time since undergoing abdominal surgery in November.
Lynch, however, shifted gears on Friday of last week and told the brass that he couldn’t go.
Now that the Seahawks survived with Christine Michael in the backfield, it looks far more favorable to make a return in the more seasonable weather of Charlotte than the North Pole-like conditions in Minneapolis.
Long-term, Carroll and general manager John Schneider are probably tiring of the high-maintenance Lynch and the success the team enjoyed with undrafted rookie Thomas Rawls did not go unnoticed.
The Seahawks feel they have already cultivated Lynch’s heir apparent at a much lower salary-cap number for at least a few seasons. Rawls, a University of Michigan product, though, is on the shelf until 2016 because of a season-ending ankle injury.
So, Lynch’s status moving forward is about next Sunday against the Panthers not next year.
And the Seahawks’ chances in the Tar Heel State could hinge on a potential “Beast Quake.”
— John McMullen is a national football columnist for FanRagSports.com and TodaysPigskin.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @jfmcmullen — Also catch John this season every day at 4:05 ET on ESPN South Jersey, on ESPN Southwest Florida every Monday at 3 PM ET; on ESPN Lexington every Thursday at 6:05 ET, and live every Tuesday from 2 to 6 PM ET at the Golden Nugget Casino in Atlantic City for the Sports Bash on ESPN South Jersey.
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