January 10, 2011
You've heard of the 12th Man, right? Those legendary over-caffeinated Seattle Seahawks fans who make Qwest Field one of the most difficult locations for any NFL visiting team? With the noise created from almost 70,000 crazy fans, this bunch has helped offenses facing Seattle at home to more false starts than in any other stadium in the last five years.
But when running back Marshawn Lynch(notes) got off what may have been the greatest run in playoff history in the Seahawks' 41-36 wild-card win over the defending Super Bowl champion Saints, those fans took things to a new, historic, and positively seismic level.
At 4:43 p.m. PT on Saturday, almost exactly the same time that Lynch was bouncing off eight different Saints defenders for the touchdown that sealed the Seahawks' upset win, the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network recorded a small tremor from a monitoring system right by the Old Kingdome, which was blown up years ago to make room for the new baseball and football stadiums.
According to the PNSN, the tremor was recorded at just that one location (the "SoDo" -- or "South of the Dome" area).
Ordinarily, I would take such a story as pure hyperbole, but as a member of the working press for this game, I went down on the field after the Lynch run, and one colleague told me that at the end of the Lynch run, she felt the field shake. I was in the press box for the actual run, but I can verify that even closed off from the 12th Man by thick glass windows, it was hard to hear oneself think at that point. We're used to serious noise coming out of that stadium, but it was unreal, and the fans kept it up all the way through the game.
The Seahawks now travel to Chicago in the divisional round to face a Bears team they beat on the road in Week 6. And here's a scary thought for the rest of the NFL, especially the ones who believe that no 7-9 team should have made the playoffs in the first place: If the Seahawks beat the Bears again, and the Green Bay Packers defeat the Atlanta Falcons in the Georgia Dome on Saturday night, the road to the Super Bowl would go through Qwest Field, as the four-seed Seahawks would host the six-seed Packers in the NFC championship game.
Is there a better argument for re-seeding than this? Probably not, but Seahawks fans don't seem to care. We can only hope that if that conference championship scenario comes to pass, the 12th Man doesn't cause the monster earthquake that has been predicted for so long throughout the Puget Sound!
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