Sports Weekend: An Epic, a Blowout, and (Maybe) a Goodbye
When I tell you that the highlight of the Seattle sports weekend was giving a standing ovation to a third-place team, you may think it wasn’t much of a weekend. But it was epic, notably for our sports teams getting the worst Indiana lambasting since the Kerry campaign.
Notre Dame 37, Washington 30 (OT)
As I headed to Teddy’s to watch Washington vs. Notre Dame (live from South Bend, Indiana), I wondered exactly how empty the bandwagon would be. Coming off the USC win, the bar was packed for Stanford. But after losing that game, how would it look? Let’s let pictures tell the story:
So–yeah, Seattle sports fans, you are some fairweather sons of bitches. And you missed an amazing game, one that will always be remembered for the stunning inability of the Huskies to score one touchdown from twelve tries inside the one-yard-line. If you have a Husky fan at your office, I recommend putting his morning coffee three feet behind a white line and see if he starts having PTSD flashbacks.
Scoring just one of those touchdowns would’ve put the game away for the Huskies, but they instead ended up allowing a go-ahead touchdown to the Irish. THEN the Dawgs embarked on a last-minute drive to get a game-tying field goal, for which I was so terrified I crawled under one of those tables. Eric “Clutch” Folk made the kick, but the Dawgs lost in OT.
And this all in the final five minutes. The game itself was a back-and-forth affair featuring two amazing individual performances: Notre Dame’s Golden Tate set a new mark for a Husky opponent for receiving yards in a game–Tate had nine catches for 244 yards. And Washington’s Chris Polk had 136 yards rushing yards on 22 carries, continuing to establish himself as hands-down the best Husky back since Corey Dillon.
The game had six lead changes, three turnovers and 19 penalties, two critical ref calls overturned by instant replay, and just overall was about the most exhausting football game I can remember watching. At the end I was left muttering to myself and kicking fire hydrants on my way back to the house, but this remains a better feeling than last year’s Notre Dame game, a 33-7 shellacking that I left early in the third quarter.
Sunday was a whole Seattle sports marathon–since I wanted to catch Griffey’s (potential) last game, I watched the Seahawks/Colts down the street from Safeco at Hawks’ Nest. On my way there I passed this photo mural on the side of Qwest Field.
Can you guess what all three of these players have in common? Neither Matt Hasselbeck, Walter Jones and Marcus Trufant were going to play in the game I was about to watch. Those three, arguably the best three players on the team and inarguably among the top ten, are injured–along with linebacker Leroy Hill and right tackle Sean Locklear, who are also among the team’s best players. The Seahawks got a much better turnout than the Huskies did, that’s for sure, but they didn’t perform nearly as well. The defense couldn’t stop Peyton Manning, who threw for 353 yards. The offense was utterly anemic, managing a mere field goal until two late drives when the game was completely out of reach.
Jim Mora told reporters after the game that the injuries are killing his team’s chances: “We knew that it was going to be tough. We know with our situation being what it is, it was going to be tough until we get back to full strength. [...] I believe we’re a good football team that has had some things go against it.”
Perhaps. But the Seahawks are now 1-3, and don’t have a timetable for the return of Hasselbeck or Jones. This is getting close to another lost season, and fodder for the fans who argued the Seahawks should’ve taken a quarterback in the first round of last year’s draft.
Safeco Field: Era of Good Feelings
The primary reason for going to the last Mariner game of the year was to see what might’ve been Ken Griffey Jr.’s final game. The other was to see Felix Hernandez’ final start of the season. King Felix was terrific once again, getting his 19th win of the year.
Griffey got a standing ovation all four times at bat, and the M’s marketing team played “Hip-Hop Hooray,” just like they did back at the Dome in Junior’s younger days. In his last at-bat of the day, Griffey laced a single up the middle.
The real fun came after the game, when fans stood and cheered and cheered and cheered after David Aardsma recorded his 38th save. Then, at the suggestion of Mike Sweeney, the M’s jogged around the perimeter of the field, tossing balls and other miscellaneous items onto the field. As they reached home plate, some guys had the idea of lifting Griffey on their shoulders. Ichiro got the same treatment, leading to this incredible, joyous moment, captured by Seattle Times photographer Mark Harrison, which has immediately become my desktop wallpaper and one of my favorite images in Seattle sports history.
And, yeah, that’s Carlos Silva, who last year threatened to grab an unnamed, supposedly selfish teammate generally accepted to be Ichiro, “and throw him into a wall,” carrying the hit king on his shoulders.
The Mariners finished with 85 wins, 24 more than last season, and despite a third-place finish earned a well-deserved ten-minute ovation.
Meanwhile, out in Columbus, in a game I didn’t have time to watch, the Sounders gave their playoff hopes a big push by beating the Crew. Former USL Sounder Roger Levesque had the only goal of the game–his first in MLS. If the season ended today, the Sounders would be the fourth of eight teams to make the playoffs. They are five points ahead of ninth place D.C. United.
A couple of huge football games coming up this weekend, both in town:
- The Huskies host Arizona Saturday. They must win to have any realistic hope of making a bowl game.
- The Seahawks host Jacksonville. They must win to have any realistic hope of making the playoffs.
- Also of note: The undefeated #3 Washington volleyball team plays at #9 Cal on Friday and #11 Stanford on Saturday.
- The Sounders have a bye.