Let us set the scene: 13:52 left in the 4th quarter of the 2014 NFC Championship, 49ers lead the Seahawks 17-13 at Centurylink Field. Russell Wilson was just called for intentional grounding on the previous down of 2nd and 6 after being harassed by the 49ers vicious pass rush that had already sacked him four times on the day. The loss of down incurred by the penalty set up 4th and 7 from the SF 36 yard line. The Seahawks initially sent the field goal unit out onto the field for Steven Hauschka to attempt a 53 yard field goal. After some consideration, Pete Carroll calls timeout and sends the offense onto the field. Wilson and the offense come out of the huddle and line up in a trips right formation with Doug Baldwin, Jermaine Kearse and Golden Tate flanking Wilson. Wilson is able to draw the defense offside with a double count, setting up a free play. And then it happened. Russell Wilson takes the snap out of the shotgun, immediately realizing that he has a risk free shot at the end zone and lets one fly to a well-covered Jermaine Kearse who out leaps Carlos Rogers and comes down with an amazing, ultimately game clinching and possibly franchise trajectory altering catch. The crowd goes bananas and the rest is history. And could prove to be significant history.
If the Seahawks win Super Bowl XLVIII, the description of the events in the last paragraph are going to become instant Seahawks lore. The infamous play known as ‘the catch’ where Joe Montana hooked up with Dwight Clark on a last minute TD pass to take the lead over the Cowboys in the NFC Championship and set up the 49ers first Super Bowl appearance and victory is the play I think of that most closely resembles what ‘4th & 7’ could turn out to be, both in significance and execution. I look at both plays as being symbolic. Both of the receivers who made the catches had to leap to the max of their ability so their respective franchises could make the leap to the next level and win a championship. Dwight Clark’s catch not only set up their first Super Bowl, it was the birth of a new dynasty. Time will prove whether Kearse’s catch even leads to a lone title, let alone a dynasty, but the potential is definitely there.
The Seahawks at this point in their history, much like the ’81 9ers, haven’t had much to celebrate in regard to trophies. The Seahawks have been successful by NFL standards over the last decade with several division titles and one conference championship before Sunday. That said, Super Bowls are the ultimate measure of a franchise and neither team had a Lombardi before their respective ‘Catches.’ The 9ers now have 5 and the Hawks could get their first on Feb 2nd. If they do, Jeamine Kearse’s catch will be immortalized and he will become a Seattle legend and the magnitude of that legend could possibly grow exponentially if the Seahawks do string a run of championships together over the next decade. If any team has the ingredients to become a dynasty, it is these young and hungry Seattle Seahawks. Pete Carroll is also a coach that has already built a dynasty at the college level and he only seems to be mirroring in Seattle what he did at USC. Time will tell what impact Kearse’s catch will have on Seahawks history. All I know is this, some great plays deserve a name. San Francisco has ‘The Catch’ and Seattle now has what I am christening as ‘4th & 7’.