Willes: Seattle’s victory over San Fran a display of true toughness... and other musings
NFL playoff game beats the Canucks-Flames line brawl
After a fairly eventful weekend, here are the generally uneventful Monday morning musings and meditations on the world of sports.
* If you wanted to see what real violence and real toughness looked like, forget that sideshow the Canucks and Flames put on and consider the street fight in Seattle on Sunday.
From a Seahawks point of view, the script writers got the ending right — a 23-17 Seattle win — and the ’Hawks had just enough Marshawn Lynch and just enough Russell Wilson to make the work of their extraordinary defence stand up.
But the lasting impression from this game was created by its utter brutality. There were about a half-dozen offensive plays in the mayhem. The rest was basically a three-hour face-punching contest and the Seahawks are going to need every day of the next two weeks to repair themselves for the Super Bowl.
It was also fitting that the secondary provided the two key fourth-quarter plays to deliver the win — Kam Chancellor’s interception and Richard Sherman’s last-second tip in the end zone. They’ll face a different animal in New York and the matchup between Peyton Manning and the Seahawks’ defence sets up as the storyline of The Big Game.
As for the rest of it, you wonder if Pete Carroll’s team can win a championship with an offence that borders on inept. But one thing is certain: You’re going to tune in to find out.
There are two explanations for the events of Saturday night’s brawl at The Rog — working title The Throwdown in Yaletown.
* The first is the most obvious. Based on what we saw, we can conclude John Tortorella is a lunatic and his attempt to get in the Flames’ locker room was the act of a man who’d become unhinged. Tortorella now faces a lengthy suspension — we’ll set the over-under at six games — at a time when his team sorely needs him.
When he was hired, the fear was Tortorella would turn the Canucks into a three-ring circus. It took all of 50 games, but Saturday night a lot of those fears were realized.
The second explanation isn’t quite as straightforward but it’s a lot more interesting and starts with the premise that Tortorella does everything for a reason.
He’s now had more than three months to watch the Canucks and he’s seen a team that lacks fire and conviction. As it happens, these are the qualities Tortorella prizes most, and if he couldn’t bring them out of the Canucks in the conventional manner, he’d try the shock treatment.
Tortorella had almost an hour between the line brawl and the end of the first period to consider what he’d do, and he decided to send a message: ‘This is what I’m willing to do for this team. I’m going to charge into the other team’s dressing room — me, a 55-year-old man — and fight their coach. What are you going to do?’
Again, this presupposes a number of things and it could be that Tortorella simply blew a gasket. But that would be boring and if there’s one thing we’ve come to know about Tortorella, it’s that he’s not boring.
Still, it says something about the Canucks that they were regarding a shootout win over the Calgary Flames as a huge turning point to their season. The Canucks have demonstrated backbone they didn’t have two, three years ago. They haven’t demonstrated they can play at the same level.
* On a related note, in the three seasons before he was hit and concussed by Duncan Keith, Daniel Sedin averaged 38 goals per 82 games. Since the Keith hit, he’s averaged 21 goals per 82 games.
Interesting also to note the presence of Flames president Brian Burke at The Rog on Saturday night. If you’re aware of the history between Burke and the Canucks’ organization, you’re aware he would not have been unhappy with the way the game started.
* And finally: You’d say that was a career-defining performance by Peyton Manning on Sunday, but we’re a little past that. Instead, consider the sheer joy of watching a master at the peak of his powers dissecting a team that’s gotten the better of him more than a couple of times.
A Super Bowl win, of course, would provide the perfect coda to Manning’s career and might — we said might — put him right beside Joe Montana on the all-time list. But a loss won’t diminish one bit of his remarkable career.
You don’t often get a chance to see a player like Manning. Savour it.
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