It was locked up. A done deal. Over.
Within all reasonable expectations of how a football game should and could end, we were on the verge of Miller Time. Instead, as gamblers, we faced heartbreak. Agony. Torture. Defeat. Tickets, once as golden as Charlie's to the Wonka factory, now as worthless as the paper they were printed on.
Obviously, I'm talking about Sunday night's wonky, ass backwards, very no-good game between the Seahawks and the Cardinals. Let this article serve as a postmortem and an exorcism.
Personally, I had the Seahawks down for 11 confidence points in my weekly Pick'em pool. If they won, I won a cool hundred bucks. Meanwhile, 240 miles away in Las Vegas, my cousin had an eight team moneyline parlay, which had run the gauntlet of frenzied finishes from Philly's Thursday night comeback to Cleveland's how-did-he-catch-that score and through the Lions shouldn't-have-even-had-the-ball-Todd-Gurley-accidental-TD final seconds TD drive. It was all set up for the Seahawks to waltz to a victory in the desert.
As the kickoff approached, high on the prospect of our respective victories, we decided to double down and bet the undefeated Hawks -3.5 over the scrappy home team with an easy schedule and bad losses in their rear view mirror. Seattle has transformed into an offensive juggernaut this season on the strength of magician-like Russell Wilson and his absurd 22 TDs. He actually tied Peyton Manning's record through six games last night with a trio of Tyler Lockett receptions. Two of which were absolute dimes, one a 47 yard moonshot and the other a perfectly floated pass from around the right hash at the 10 yard line to the back left corner of the end zone where Lockett tapped his toes.
Tyler Lockett catching another touchdown from Russell Wilson. Alika Jenner/NFL)
With 6:43 in the fourth quarter, that last one felt like the death blow, sealing not only a win, but the easy cover. How much more could happen in those intervening minutes? By conventional wisdom, the momentum rested with Seattle. They just had to stop the Cardinals one time and run out the clock. However, as The Ringer's Kevin Clark tweeted with evergreen wisdom: "The Seahawks have literally never played in a normal game."
The Seahawks have literally never played in a normal game.— Kevin Clark (@Kevin Clark)1573534448.0
...and, apparently, they never will.
This axiom crossed my mind during the interception exchange on back-to-back plays early in the final quarter. Even on the almost pick-six turned 90ish yard rundown by DK Metcalf doing his best Lebron impression, which led to a goal line stand, which begat a six play 97 yard Seattle TD drive. That was the weirdness. That wasn't normal. That was all behind us now. It was time to coast.
Things didn't get worrisome until the field goal attempt with 3:02 on the clock. The shaky Seattle D had done its job, Kyler's drive sputtering out on a 3rd and 12. The Cardinals opted to kick and hope for an onside recovery or a defensive stop. The ball sailed through the uprights, right before a yellow flag sailed through the night air.
Both Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth agreed that you don't take points off the board for a five yard offsides penalty that wouldn't get you a first down. One problem: It wasn't an offsides penalty. It was UNSPORTSMANLIKE CONDUCT, meaning 15 yards and a fresh set of downs. A Seahawks defender, a man whose name I refuse to learn out of fear of what I'll do, jumped on the back of an Arizona lineman–a choice that was as pointless as it was boneheaded.
Of course, Arizona goes down and punches their way into the end zone. Suddenly, -3.5 looks dead in the water, but a simple win still preserves the pick'em and parlay.
Somehow, Seattle, a team that seems to run the ball and conjure first downs at will, couldn't drain the clock, getting stuffed on a 3rd and short and forced to punt. It became completely obvious to everyone this game was destined for overtime.
It was, and Seattle won the toss. Of course, the game was far from a guarantee, but this might work in our favor. If they could score a touchdown to end it on that first possession, we'd win it all, including those -3.5 bets. Each twist and turn of this game heightened my investment and anxiety.
What did Seattle do? Well, go negative three plays, including two sacks, and draw a false start before a punt. At this point, the Arizona comeback felt inevitable and, frankly, I was looking forward to the sweet release from this nightmare.
That's how it played out, all the way up until the Cardinals iced their own kicker to avoid a delay of game. He made the kick nullified by the timeout and promptly shanked his second try.
I may never forget the feeling of watching DK Metcalf turn the corner and sprint down the sideline unimpeded across the goal line. It was all worth it, it all worked out, the Seahawks really are the luckiest team in the world. Until they weren't, and it all came crashing down, the block that sprung DK was an obvious hold. It was an emotional whiplash of the highest order. The high and low that only sports can provide.
The next play Wilson looked very un-Wilson-like and wafted a duck into the hands of a defender. Finally, my half hour long stroke was about to end. This time the Cardinals didn't miss the game winner, and my brain disassociated from reality just long enough to make the whole thing pretty hilarious.
Win Probability: Seahawks @ Cardinals https://t.co/FP3hRzHsgG— Lee Sharpe, ⛓️ @ 🏠 (@Lee Sharpe, ⛓️ @ 🏠)1603686541.0
An hour later, I saw that graph, charting the win probability of the game. The dramatic ups and downs mirror exactly what my heart would have looked like hooked up to an EKG during those final minutes of the game. Staring at it, I remembered each moment with morbid fascination. I clicked it off and had one thought, "I hope 'Monday Night Football' is half as good as this."
Unless you're the Pittsburgh Steelers, chances are your team is still uncertain about making the playoffs.
The Packers lost, yet the Saints won. The Seahawks won, but so did the Rams. The NFC is in a frenzy, while the Steelers sit atop the AFC waiting for everyone else to catch up. With only five weeks left, the playoff picture is a little fuzzy, but it clarifies with each game.
Likewise, fantasy playoffs are just on the horizon, and unless you're undefeated, there's a strong chance you're still clamoring for a spot.
If you need to make some moves for a playoff berth, here are some suggestions in this week's drops, swaps and shops.
Note: For ESPN Leagues, all public leagues must submit trades before the trade deadline on Wednesday, November 25th at 12 ET. Rules vary within leagues, but this could be your last week for swaps.
As Ferris Bueller might say: The world of sports moves pretty fast; if you don't stop and look around at least once a week, you could miss it.
Here we'll review what you might have missed in the past week all in one place. Why spend hours scrolling through Twitter to catch up on the news you want? We've already done that for you, so remember to check back every Monday to get your dose of weekly sports review.
Taysom Hill, Andy Dalton, and P.J. Walker all lead their teams to Week 11 victories filling in for injured starting QBs. Cleveland moved ahead of the Ravens in the AFC North with their win over the Eagles while Baltimore fell to the Titans. The Steelers continued to roll and now sit at 10-0 atop the NFL. The Colts outlasted the Packers in an overtime thriller as Indianapolis is now positioning themselves as a team nobody wants to see come playoff time as they boast the best defense in the NFL.
Joe Burrow was injured in the Bengals' game against Washington and he miss the remainder of the season with a knee injury. This should make Justin Herbert the odds on favorite to win Rookie of the Year if you're interested in a futures bet.
At this point, I may never bet on the NFC West again.
Week 10 Vibe Check (2-2)
At this point, I may never bet on the NFC West again. After losing to the Rams last week, Seattle turned around and beat the Cardinals on Thursday night. Every matchup in that division is a heavyweight bout and it's hard to justify betting on one when they can all throw a haymaker at any time. Meanwhile, the Bengals weren't ready for a D like the Steelers and the QB of the future looked stuck in the present reality for the time being.
As for our wins, in a shocking turn of events, betting against the Chargers WORKED! Or, perhaps, I should say betting on the Dolphins worked. Brian Flores looks more and more like he was the true key to the Patriots defensive success in recent years. He took on two NFC teams back to back and cruised against the poor, befuddled Chargers. Tua coming into his own has certainly helped, as well.
Brandon Aiyuk tallied a whopping seven catches down in New Orleans, even as the 49ers completely sputtered and blew a chance to upset a Drew Brees-less Saints. This continues a month long streak of calling player props, which is almost certain to end this week after pointing out its existence. *Fingers crossed* *No jinx* *Reverse jinx*