(Orange, Texas)

January 7, 2013

Thomas, Seahawks pickin' the right time to get hot

Van Wade
The Orange Leader

ORANGE — Okay folks, I will not have a chance to see my Dallas Cowboys play again until September as they will get things going on their way to another 8-8 season.

My Houston Texans captured their second playoff win in franchise history in nipping the Cincinnati Bengals 19-13, kicking four field goals in the process.

Sorry, four field goals will not get it done in Foxboro this Sunday, do you hear me Matt Schaub? I will be pulling for the Texans hard but something tells me they might get “Obradyiated,” by Tom Brady and the Patriots. Ya’ll like that new word — maybe Webster’s will put “Obradyiated” in the dictionary for 2014, you never know.

Tom Brady and the Patriots roughed up the Texans 42-14 a month ago and I’m deeply afraid we’re in for a repeat performance. Everyone is talking about a Brady-Manning matchup in the AFC Championship game in Denver. Nothing in my right mind says that it won’t happen.

The NFC picture is the one that’s going to be very interesting.

With the Cowboys long gone, I’m definitely on the Seattle Seahawks bandwagon. Mainly because of former West Orange-Stark and University standout Earl Thomas being a key cog on perhaps the NFL’s most surprising team.

Thomas certainly hasn’t disappointed in his three-year NFL run. It’s been a fun ride watching the young man go from being All-State, to All-American to All-Pro. It seems like it happened way too quickly, it just seems like yesterday that Earl was bringing back kickoffs for touchdowns, collecting long TD passes or returning a interception for a pick-six for the Mustangs. And yes, I can still picture him bringing the ball up the court as the point guard for WO-S and also making diving catches from the outfield.

Thomas certainly brought back memories of diving for those deep shots to centerfield in high school when he picked off Washington quarterback Robert Griffin III in Seattle’s 24-14 Wildcard win Sunday. It looked like he was literally shot out of a cannon with his closing speed as he made a great play of the ball to haul it in.

It was his fourth interception, perhaps his biggest one in his career. It will definitely be on his highlight reel that he will show daughter Kaleigh Rose Thomas, who was born in late September, one day.

Thomas has posted more than 70 tackles on the season in leading a fierce Seattle secondary that has really been second to none all year long.

Next up for the Falcons, a road date with the NFC’s top seed in the form of the Atlanta Falcons. That’s right, the 13-3 Falcons. But hey, something tells me the Seahawks are ready to take their show on the road.

The Seahawks are a brutal, confident group that can easily go to Atlanta and pick up a win. The Seahawks, they’re the real deal, so real that they could possibly go to the Super Bowl.

Just looking back at the regular season can give you a nice gauge on the Seahawks.

I thought they were real impressive early on when they defeated the Cowboys 27-7 in the second week. The Cowboys had defeated defending Super Bowl champion New York the week before. But three months later we found out where the Cowboys and Giants would be — and that’s on the couch.

The Seahawks also defeated a Green Bay team 14-12 on a Monday night in a matter of controversy that helped bring back the “true” NFL referees. They also handed New England a 24-23 defeat and smoked NFC West champion San Francisco 42-13 just a few weeks back. That’s a pretty darn good resume.

When you think of Seattle, their physical brand of defense always pops up first. They can lay the leather and they’ll back it up with some smack talk as well.

They’ve shown that they don’t get down when they do fall behind. Against Washington, the Seahawks became the third team in playoff history to trail by two touchdowns and still win a playoff game.

Offensively, the Seahawks have been a work in progress from opening day until now. They’ve gotten better from week to week and that’s where you want to be at this time of the year.

Critics can say what they want about Griffin III and Indianapolis quarterback Andrew Luck, who both took their teams to respective playoff berths, but Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson would get my nod as NFL Rookie of the Year. He’s been nothing short of amazing after the Seattle coaching staff let go of the reins to let him shine even more. He throws some of the best-looking passes you’ll every see — just check out his spirals. He hardly ever turns it over and runs the ball well too.

Throw in tailback Marshawn Lynch, who is arguably the second best running back in the game behind Adrian Peterson, and a offensive line that has plenty of Pro Bowl representation, and you have a well-rounded machine.

Atlanta will challenge the Seahawks hard this weekend, no doubt about it.

The Falcons have had excellent teams over the last three years but are still seeking that first elusive playoff win with Matt Ryan at quarterback.

Let’s not forget about a certain excellent kicker that the Falcons have in Bridge City standout Matt Bryant. Bryant has drilled 33 field goals this year and has piled up 143 points.

If the Seahawks down Atlanta, their confidence should soar even higher, after all, they know they can beat either San Francisco and Green Bay, they’ve been there and done that.

No matter how the chips actually fall, I think Earl Thomas and the Seattle Seahawks are just getting started on what could be an even greater future.