After nearly four months on the road, I finally made it to Seattle, the final stop on my NFL Road Trip. Having lived in Vancouver from 1990-96, I have spent a lot of time in the Emerald City, and was happy to finish my trip here. In 2001, when I did my MLB Road Trip, I started in Seattle, so the circle was complete. A friend from my college days decided to drive down from Vancouver to join in the celebration, a nice way to end the entire journey.
Proven to be the loudest venue in the NFL and the one with the largest home advantage, CenturyLink Field is a pleasure to visit. Located just a half-mile south of Pioneer Square and right next to Safeco Field, the distinct roof is even visible from Pike Place Market, Seattle's iconic tourist destination.
The area around the stadium is hopping at least four hours before game time. There were two pregame party zones, including one at Safeco. The other one was next door at the WaMu Theater but that required a security check, so I passed.
The stadium is not particularly beautiful on the outside, with the facade hiding a number of ramps that take you to the top.
The team schedule is also shown, something I always enjoy seeing. Other than that though, not much to see on the exterior, so with gates opening 3 hours before game time, best to head inside as soon as you can.
We did not have the luxury of getting in right way, as it took us a while to find tickets with few sellers offering anything reasonable. We finally ended up with lower bowl seats near one goal line, which ended up being a good place to sit.
Once inside, I did the final tour of the trip, taking photos from a variety of angles. Below is the Hawks Nest in the North end zone.
Now some shots from the Hawks Nest with Safeco in the distance.
Below is a shot from one of the ramps, with patrons lining up to get in, while the WaMu Theater in the foreground.
As you move up the ramps, you are presented with some nice views of downtown. Even the Space Needle is visible.
It was a bit cloudy on this Sunday afternoon though.
The stadium has a unique design, with stairways off which are dead ends with views over the concourse.
There are banners celebrating the Seahawks' and MLS Sounders' accomplishments. Note the large number of rows to the top, in the middle sections this went all the way up to SS.
A few more shots from around the seating bowl.
Finally the last panorama of the trip. I was really impressed with the overall layout of CenturyLink Field. Easy to get around with lots of little areas to explore. It is smart that they open 3 hours early as you can really take your time and see the entire venue, which is one of the largest in the league in terms of its footprint. At the end, I really couldn't find fault with anything here and highly recommend you attend a game here if you haven't yet.
The Rams somehow managed to win seven times this season, amazing to me considering how terribly they've played in the two games I had seen them. This one wouldn't be much different. Before the action though, there was the national anthem (some members of the Seahawks standing below) and then the 12th man jersey rolled down over the Hawks Nest.
With the ceremonies done, it was time for some football. As these two teams were the most undisciplined in the league, I expected a few penalties, and that is what I got. In fact, referee Jeff Triplette got more air time than Russell Wilson.
After Seattle went 3-and-out on their first drive and punted (the Rams committed two penalties on the punt, the first of about 100 flags on the day), St. Louis began their drive with a couple of first downs. That was the high point of their afternoon. Facing 2nd and 14, Kellen Clemens (in trouble below) dropped back to pass but was hit as he threw. The pass was picked off by Malcolm Smith, who returned it for a touchdown and the early lead.
The rest of the half was ugly, with more penalties and almost no offense. Seattle added a couple of field goals while limiting Zac Stacy (below) to 3 yards on the ground.
The second half saw St. Louis get on the board with a field goal, but the Seahawks replied with a 14-play 80-yard drive that culminated in a 2-yard TD run by Marshawn Lynch (#24 below). The Rams committed 4 more penalties on that drive, but all were near the goal line, so only 21 yards were marched off. Kendall Langford was ejected for making contact with an official, and later threw his helmet, but so far, no fine has been announced by the league. It was an embarrassing display by St. Louis and something they need to correct in the offseason.
With the score 20-3, the game was decided, but each team added a touchdown in the fourth quarter. St. Louis went for a 2-point conversion and failed, making the final 27-9.
Defense was the name of the game here, and those two takeaways by Seattle were the big difference, along with St. Louis committing 12 infractions leading to 5 Seahawk first downs.
A pretty bad game to end the trip. I should have visited Seattle the week before (they lost to Arizona) and finished in San Diego (OT win over KC), but that would have added about 1,500 miles to the trek, so probably not worth it in the end.
The Seahawks ignored both my original and followup email requesting a ticket. I found this quite surprising as 26 of 30 teams that were contacted responded (Cleveland and St. Louis were excluded as I received tickets from friends for those games). In many cases, their answer was an apology that they could not provide a ticket, which was fine with me as I had no expectations for one. Other teams offered a credential or a ticket, which I gladly accepted. For the final team on the trip to give me the cold shoulder was disappointing. I should note that the four teams that ignored me were Detroit, Atlanta, Houston, and Seattle, who have 0 Super Bowls combined. There is a link between front office arrogance and poor performance on the field. Expect that to continue this year as the Super Bowl favourite Seahawks will lose at home as karma from their failure to recognize my achievement will come back to haunt them.
After 4 months, 119 days, 20,353 miles, and 32 NFL games, the NFL Road Trip is over. Hope you all enjoyed it as much as I did. Now I'm back in New York in my new home. Living in the States, I won't be taking many extended road trips, but instead will focus on completing my membership in Club 122 (seeing a home game in all 122 Big 4 venues). I'll start writing about that in the New Year. Happy 2014 everybody!