We knew this game promised to be a moment you would never forget no matter the outcome. It turned out to be unforgettable.
We had planned to make the three hour drive to Seattle on Saturday and spend the night. Of course our mode of transportation was properly decorated for reppin’ the 12.
Moments after merging onto I-205 northbound, we were passed by a Lexus SUV bearing California license plates. The female passenger gave me the stink eye as they passed. I caught a glimpse of a 49er hat sitting on their dashboard. Welcome to Washington! This was not the only California car with 49er fans we encountered along our drive to Seattle. It was clear a portion of “The Faithful” were making the 12 hour drive from the Bay Area to Puget Sound.
As we approached Olympia, we tuned into the 950 KJR’s 12th Man Mania show hosted by Brian Abker. The show was on location at Sport Restaurant. The owner of Sport had discovered that his establishment was deemed the location for a 49er fan rally. He killed any such rally because he operates a Seahawks bar. Instead, he offered up his restaurant as a location for the radio show. We decided to drive directly to Sport to partake in the festivities. As we got closer, we learned from Seattle radio sports personality Dave “Softy” Mahler that the 49er fan rally was taking place at the J&M Cafe in Pioneer Square. I am surprised their rally wasn’t held at a sports bar in Fife, Washington instead.
Due to a lane closure on I-5 in Seattle, we changed our route and drove into downtown. The traffic was horrendous on 1st Avenue. Unknown to us, our route was going to take us past J&M Cafe. The reason traffic was slow was due to the 49er fan rally. The “Faithful” had spilled out into 1st Avenue waving their red and gold causing a traffic jam. I am sure they loved the back of the car as we drove away. We were fortunate to make it past the gauntlet without being stabbed or shot. A couple of Seahawks fans in Fresno were not so lucky that weekend. They were shot by a 49er fan.
We made it to Sport and the 12th Man Mania show was great. We knocked the road dust from our throats with a couple of frosty Manny’s Pale Ales. We even signed a 12th Man flag that would be going to New York City with chef John Howie who will be representing Seattle for The Taste Of The NFL event.
After spending several nights in Seattle for games, I have learned that BlueAcre Seafood is a spot visiting teams frequent. The bar has a great happy hour so we decided to hit it for good luck and dinner. As we were there, the waitress told us that Vernon Davis had come in for dinner. I wanted to go ask him how his head was feeling. I decided not to do it. The man could crush me like a grape. Strong safety Kam Chancellor (#31) could ask him that question on game day for me.
49er fans were crawling all over downtown. I don’t know if they were in town for the game or the legalized weed. They were toking it up. I was surprised to see the amount of red and gold in Seahawks Stadium on Sunday.
The 12’s were also showing their pride around town on Saturday.
The tailgating and “bar”gating started early on Sunday. The 12th Man would be well lubricated due to a 3:30 PM kickoff. We went to our mainstay the Hawks Nest Bar & Grill. Blue Thunder paid a visit and got the crowd revved up. There was even a Norm Johnson sighting outside.
The stadium was packed well before kickoff. As I predicted, Paul Allen raised the 12th Man flag and of course the crowd went wild. The game started off badly. 49er linebacker Aldon Smith stripped the ball from Russell Wilson on the very first offensive play. The 49ers recovered the fumble and were in the Red Zone. I blame the fumble on the Wilson Phish chant. The lineman were once again giving the “hush” signal to the crowd just prior to the play. The Seahawks need to quit this gimmick next season.
The 12th Man was in full throat for the game. Pam Oliver on the FOX broadcast stated it wasn’t loud. She was dead wrong. The place was not only loud, you could cut the energy with a knife. The 12th Man was not going to give up at any point during that game, just like the players. The halftime concert by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis definitely helped maintain the energy level at the start of the third quarter. Macklemore said in one of his songs, “You’re about to witness Seattle sports history tonight.” It turns out he was right.
The game was nerve wracking and exhausting. I was “tight” the whole game. I would have loved to have somebody check my pulse and blood pressure when Kaepernick and the 49ers were driving down the field in the final minutes of the game. I couldn’t fathom the 49ers scoring a touchdown with only 10 seconds left on the clock making the score 49ers 24 and Seahawks 23. My worst nightmare comes true.
It did’t look good, the 49ers had three timeouts and the ball on the 19 yard line with over 20 seconds remaining. Could Kaepernick handle the pressure? Then Kaepernick put on his Beats by Dre to drown out the roar of the 12th Man and decided to hear what he wants.
Kaepernick threw to 49er wide receiver Michael Crabtree on a fade route to the back corner of the southwest end zone. Cornerback Richard Sherman (#25) was the defender. It was the second time that Kaepernick had thrown towards Sherman in the game. What all 68,000 plus in attendance was about to witness will be revered as the greatest play in Seattle sports history. Sherman leaped into the cool evening air and tipped the ball away from Crabtree and towards Seahawks linebacker Maclom Smith (#53) who made the interception. It turns out Sherman is the man, not Kaepernick.
I could swear you could hear a pin drop the nano second after Smith caught that ball. The next thing I heard was the Season Ticket Holder sitting next to me yell, “We’re going to the Super Bowl!” At that instant, I think every 12 in the stadium made the same conclusion and the place erupted with joy and relief. There were plenty of high fives and hugs to go around. The 49er Faithful made a quick exodus from the stadium.
It was an awesome night. As we made our way out of the stadium and walked through the streets back to our hotel, cars were honking and people were in full celebration. I can only imagine what the party will be like when we win the Super Bowl.