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The Seahawks kicked off against the Saints at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday afternoon in a David-and-Goliath (if David had a losing record) playoff

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Pulling Double Duty on a Historic Seattle Sports Day

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The Seahawks kicked off against the Saints at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday afternoon in a David-and-Goliath (if David had a losing record) playoff showdown. The Washington men's basketball team tipped-off against Oregon State at 3:30 later that afternoon in a matchup that gave the Huskies their first chance to start the Pac-10 season 4-0 since 1983. Was it possible to attend one game while still watching and/or following the other? It was, and it made both victories that much sweeter.

A press pass to the Huskies game and no tickets to the Hawks made the decision of which event to attend a simple one. The challenge was arriving early enough at Hec Ed to watch the first half of the football game in the media room. By the time I was inside the arena, the Saints were up 10-0, and roughly two dozen reporters, cameramen, and various middle-aged media types were crowded in a tiny room, looking dejected and making cynical comments while munching complimentary deli sandwiches. In other words, business as usual in the press lounge.

Then John Carlson scored his first touchdown to bring the Seahawks back into the game. The chatter changed to various "What if . . . " scenarios. Like, "Since he clearly died sometime in Week 4 of the season, what if Matt Hasselbeck is actually a zombie? Would this be the first time a zombie passed for a TD in the playoffs?"

It took the Saints roughly six minutes of game time to take back the lead, shocking absolutely no one. What was shocking was that the Seahawks fought back, with another Carlson touchdown, a defensive stop, and an Olindo Mare field goal. Then, with three minutes left in the half, Brandon Stokely hauled in a 45-yard bomb from Hasselbeck. There was actual cheering--and hope--in the press room.

Just before halftime, the Saints kicked a field goal to cut the lead to four. This was at about 3:10 p.m., and everyone scrambled to get to their seats for the 3:30 basketball game. At that time, the stands were at maybe 15 percent capacity. Would the closer-than-expected football game (and clustercuss traffic on the freeway, thanks to said football game) cost the Huskies home-court advantage?

Not exactly. The fans eventually filtered in, filling the arena to a roughly few hundred seats short of a sellout. The Huskies came out flat in the first half and actually trailed against an obviously inferior Beaver squad. Everyone's attention seemed to be elsewhere, especially the guy in the stands directly behind my spot on press row, who had a radio earpiece in his ear listening to the broadcast of the game. And when the public-address announcer at Hec Ed cued up his mike and said that the score in the third quarter was now Seahawks 31, Saints 20 after a Mike Williams touchdown, the Husky faithful roared in approval.

With a laptop and wireless, I was stuck following the play-by-play on Gamecast. Luckily, NFL.com posts video highlights of every big play (turnovers, touchdowns, etc.) about 30 seconds after they occur. Half paying attention to basketball, half glued to my computer, I looked around the stands and saw at least a dozen men staring at their smart phones, oblivious to the live sporting event they (presumably) paid to attend. On press row, every reporter and intern within my view had their laptop open to ESPN.com and the Seahawks Gamecast.

At halftime, I hurried back down to the media lounge, just in time to see Julius Jones exact a little revenge on the Seahawks and score a touchdown to make it 34-27. It was at that point that I realized the Hawks had a legitimate shot for the upset. Julius Jones would be the guy getting key carries for New Orleans down the stretch. Every Seattle fan had seen enough Julius Jones over the past few seasons to know that he was more than capable of totally screwing over the defending Super Bowl champs.

Midway through the second half, the Huskies started pouring it on. Matthew Bryan-Amaning and Isaiah Thomas once again proved to be the best inside/outside duo in the conference. Amaning finally proved he can actually rebound (eventually hauling in 15 boards) and Thomas continued to prove he can play point guard (eventually dishing out eight assists) while the Beavers wilted under the Huskies' aggressive defense.

Then, with about three minutes left in the basketball game, It happened. It, of course, is the biggest run in Seahawks history. For me, it came out of nowhere. The guy with the radio earpiece behind me shouted "Touchdown Seahawks!" I was baffled. Gametracker, lagging a bit behind, still had the Seahawks at second and 10 on their own 35-yard line.

As Percy Allen described on his Husky blog for The Seattle Times, a "murmur" went through the crowd at Hec Ed and spontaneous applause broke out. Then Gametracker revealed what happened: "TD - Marshawn Lynch 67-yard run." I hit refresh on my browser and the NFL.com highlight cued up. I actually gasped (drawing skeptical glances from my neighbors on press row) at the raw beauty of Beast Mode. The row of fans sitting behind me with a view of my laptop screen were equally impressed.

A few minutes later, a friend of mine who works for ESPN settled into his spot on press row. I hadn't seen him all day, and asked what was up. He explained that he had attended the Seahawks game on his own dime, then ducked out early to beat traffic and catch the end of the basketball game. He hadn't seen Lynch's run yet. We watched it three times, pretty much ignoring the basketball blowout at this point.

During a late game stoppage, while the Huskies were up by 14 with "The Human Victory Cigar" Brandon Sherrer ready to check in for the first time, the PA announcer let the crowd know the final score of the football game: Seahawks 41, Saints 36. The Husky fans roared.

After the game in the interview room, Huskies coach Lorenzo Romar took a seat and addressed the reporters. He didn't start by complimenting his team on yet another fine performance. Instead the first thing he said was, "How about those Seahawks?"

 
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