One of the nice things about making it deep into the playoffs is that your team starts to get attention from national media outlets, such as the Wall Street Journal.
So it was, in the week before the Seahawks’ victory against the New Orleans Saints, that said journalistic enterprise published an article whose message is aptly summarized in its headline: The Seahawks’ Grabby Talons: Seattle’s Defense Relies On a Brazen Tactic: Rampant Interference:*
The Seattle Seahawks—the favorites to make the Super Bowl out of the NFC—employ an exasperating defensive game plan: They blitz rarely and drop an army of defenders into pass coverage. And those defenders mug, obstruct and foul opposing receivers on practically every play.
Quietly, the Seahawks have achieved a 13-3 record and home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs by exploiting a loophole: NFL referees are reluctant to throw endless flags for pass interference and defensive holding, even if defenses deserve them.
“They look at it and say, ‘We may get called for one but not 10,'” said Mike Pereira, a former NFL vice president of officiating who is now a Fox analyst.
Having watched every Seahawks game this season, I’m not going to dispute the article’s characterization of the Legion of Boom, since you probably wouldn’t believe me if I tried.**
So why am I bothering to write about this article at all? Why did I just write that sentence in the form of a rhetorical question? Easy: because I wanted to point out that this story — about pushing rules to their limits and somehow managing to evade enforcement — is right up the Wall Street Journal’s alley. [Update, 1/20: And now the Seahawks are headed to “New York”.] Just perfect.
*Yes, those are four consecutive colons. It’s rare to see that many in a row outside a human centipede.
**That said, I won’t hesitate to link to an alternate narrative from Grantland (see fn. 7).