What Happened Last Night: The Seahawks Put The NFL On Notice, And Dirk Is Back (But The Mavs Aren’t)
Welcome to a holiday (sort of) edition of "What Happened Last Night?" I know, on Friday I said these might not be forthcoming for a few days, but what can I say? I'm here to serve a hungry public. Except tomorrow. I wouldn't count on one of these going up tomorrow. But for now, let's get down to business...
The Seahawks are really, really good.
Sure, they's look unstoppable the last couple weeks, crushing overmatched Cardinals and Bills teams by a combined score of 108-17. But they were the Cardinals and Bills. How would Seattle respond when the division-leading 49ers came to town? Well... by crushing them too, posting a 42-13 win that not only clinched a playoff spot for the Seahawks and kept them in contention to win the NFC West, it served as a warning to the rest of the NFC playoff field, too: the 'Hawks are the hottest team in football. Even if the Niners win next week against the Cardinals (which they should, because again, Cardinals) and win the division, and even though they were without key players on offense (Vernon Davis) and defense (Justin Smith), Seattle left no doubt who, at the moment, is best in the West.
And while defense has much to do with the Seahawks' roaring success lately (they've allowed the fewest points in the NFL), they wouldn't be where they are without some seriously superb play from their rookie quarterback, Russell Wilson. Wilson's quietly made his own Rookie of the Year case in the shadow of Robert Griffin III and Andrew Luck, and last night, he strengthened his case considerably. Wilson finished 15-for-21 passing for four touchdowns and added 29 yards on the ground, drawing comparisons from Cris Collinsworth to no less than Fran Tarkenton. Wilson now has 25 touchdown passes on the year - with two in the team's regular-season finale next week, he'll break Peyton Manning's rookie record for TD passes in a season. One major difference, though: Manning threw 28 interceptions that season. Wilson has 10.
As for the Niners... don't count them out. This isn't the first time this season they've been torn to shreds (remember that 26-3 Week 6 loss to the Giants?), and they'll most likely respond to this blowout by getting angry, crushing the Cardinals in the season finale, and heading into the playoffs on a high note. We worry about Smith's absence, though. He might be gone for a while, and he's a critical component of what's normally one of the league's best defenses. One underestimates a Jim Harbaugh team at one's own peril, but without Smith (or Davis, for that matter), it'll be hard for the Niners to reach the Super Bowl they came so close to last season.
The Spurs thoroughly ruin Dirk's return.
Well, that was sudden - fresh off his first practice since his knee surgery, Dirk Nowitzki was back in action for the Mavericks last night against the Spurs following the longest layoff of his career. And while the Mavs are understandably limiting his minutes as he gets his sea legs back, he played pretty well, hitting three of four shots and scoring eight points with six rebounds in 20 minutes. That's the good news. The bad news: it all came in one of the most thorough beatdowns administered in the NBA this season. The Spurs won 129-91, and the Mavs had to score the last seven points of the game to make it that close. Dallas managed to tread water without its franchise player, but clearly his return wasn't a moment too soon.
In other late NBA games last night, the DeMarcus-Cousins-less Kings beat the Blazers 108-96 in Sacramento, while the Clippers continued their unbeatable ways, routing the Suns on the road, 103-77. It's time to take this squad very seriously as a contender out West.
It's Christmas Eve.
Since, again, I probably won't be doing one of these tomorrow, merry Christmas to those who celebrate it. To those who don't: have a good Tuesday, secure in the knowledge you in no way have anything to do with a culture that led to "Wonderful Christmas Time" happening.
Photos via Getty