Some games just seem to count more, and carry greater weight; and if you win them, the “W” needs to be in a larger font, and printed in bold.
So, there are wins, and then there are the occasional victories – the ones that are more symbolic.
Monday night is the chance for one of those for the Seattle Sea-hawks.
It won’t come easily, and the betting line is clear that such an outcome would be considered an upset, but a win Monday against Green Bay could be a signature achievement for the Seahawks under coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider.
Carroll and Schneider are two seasons and two games into their franchise renovation, and they’ve had some big victories, topping the Saints in the playoffs their first season, and defeating the eventual Super Bowl champion Giants on the road last season.
But a Monday Night Football victory over Green Bay – validating a runaway win at home over Dallas last week – would immediately label the Seahawks a team rising toward contention.
Whenever players and staff have been asked on the record this week about the match-up, they’ve downplayed it as another game for which they prepare in a typical manner. No more, no less.
Don’t believe it. Monday night games are a traditional showcase. As Carroll said, it’s historically been the opportunity the nation gets to watch football “on a school night.”
This young Seahawks team hasn’t had much prime-time exposure. And neither has the deserving CenturyLink crowd.
And the Packers, talented as they are, could be vulnerable. They have a Super Bowl win and a 15-1 regular-season record on the résumé the past two seasons. But they’ve already lost once this season to an NFC West team, falling at home to San Francisco in their opener.
Reigning league MVP quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who has been sacked eight times, has thrown a pair of interceptions in two games. But he’s been in pressurized arenas in front of deafening crowds many times.
It’s fair to assume the Sea-hawks will see Rodgers’ best. But the Packers are among the worst rushing offenses in the NFL after two weeks, and the Seahawks are No. 2 in the league in rush defense.
If the Packers are rendered one-dimensional, life becomes tougher for Rodgers and correspondingly easier for the Seattle defense.
With Rodgers leading the offense, and indefatigable pass-rusher Clay Matthews (six sacks) leading the defense, the Packers are still loaded enough that any victory over them is a legitimate statement.
Consider some scenarios for the Seahawks.
This will be only the third career start for rookie quarterback Russell Wilson. He’s shown uncommon maturity, but these are bright lights on a big stage against the second-best pass defense in the league.
If this kid can respond, and cope with the figurative pressure of the moment and the literal pressure of Matthews, it could be the first chapter of a new mythology.
Fans in the Northwest are familiar with the Seahawks’ young secondary, and the three players who ended up in the Pro Bowl last season. But a big night against Rodgers would result in instant national recognition and legitimacy.
In the vastly improved NFC West, San Francisco was considered the obvious power, coming off a season in which the 49ers went to the NFC title game. And they only upped the ante by dumping the Packers, 30-22, in Green Bay on opening weekend.
If the Seahawks can match that with a win over Green Bay, it sends a message to San Francisco: Game on.
Running back Marshawn Lynch had a career moment against the Saints in the playoff game after the 2010 season, breaking away for a touchdown run that caused such a fan outburst that it registered on a seismograph.
Almost any score might have the same result Monday night.
It’s fair to remember that the Seahawks scored impressive wins over the Packers on Monday Night Football in the past, only to slip thereafter. In 1999, Mike Holmgren’s first Seahawks team dumped the Packers in Green Bay to improve to 5-2, but ended up losing four of the final five regular-season games. They topped the Pack in Seattle on a snowy night in 2006 to stand 7-4 only to lose three of the last five that season.
But Monday night games are special to the Seahawks, who own the NFL’s best Monday night winning percentage (.680), and they’re on a five-game winning streak on Monday Night Football.
A sixth straight would qualify as a big-font, bold-print, seismic victory.