Seahawks v. Lions

Oct 5, 2015; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Seahawks strong safety Kam Chancellor (31) forces a fumble by Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson (81) at the goal line during the fourth quarter of a 13-10 Seattle victory at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Seattle Seahawks strong safety Kam Chancellor (31) forces a fumble by Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson (81) at the goal line during the fourth quarter of a 13-10 Seattle victory at CenturyLink Field.

If it is fall, that means it must be time for my annual blog post about the start of football season. You know, the one in which I close by stating I’m going to post more often this year, but then never do. Yeah, that one. Well it’s now early October, which means that post is overdue.

Before this week I had shot two preseason games and one from the regular season but didn’t make any photos that I felt were worthy of a blog post. So I’ll just skip those and go straight to the Monday night game between the Seahawks and Lions.

For pregame warmups, I chased the light streaming between the roof and stands of the stadium, looking for some nice rimlight. It never really came together the way I wanted, as a parade of anonymous Lions players jogged past me, like the Lions center:

Oct 5, 2015; Seattle, WA, USA; Detroit Lions center Travis Swanson (64) participates in pre game warmups against the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field. Seattle defeated Detroit, 13-10. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Detroit Lions center Travis Swanson (64) participates in pre game warmups against the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field.

But letting the players come to the light a few minutes later worked out just a tiny bit better when one of the Seahawks best defenders, Kam Chancellor, jogged past with his hand just above my lens:

Oct 5, 2015; Seattle, WA, USA; at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Seattle Seahawks strong safety Kam Chancellor (31) runs on to the field for pre game warmups against the Detroit Lions at CenturyLink Field.

Or when another player for the Lions, Calvin Johnson, he of the less-than-humble-self-given-nickname-of-Megatron fame, greeted some of his teammates emerging from the locker room for warmups in the nice light:

Oct 5, 2015; Seattle, WA, USA; Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson (81) greets his teammates during pre game warmups against the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Oct 5, 2015; Seattle, WA, USA; Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson (81) greets his teammates during pre game warmups against the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

I also spotted Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll giving an enthusiastic thumbs up to one of his players during a stretching session. I wonder if and when this might become a meme template. I expect the text will read, “something something something, throw from the one-yard line, something.”

Oct 5, 2015; Seattle, WA, USA; Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson (81) greets his teammates during pre game warmups against the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Oct 5, 2015; Seattle, WA, USA; Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson (81) greets his teammates during pre game warmups against the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

I’ll admit that it would be *really* nice if the player’s head wasn’t obscuring the right half of Carroll’s torso, but I’ll take what I can get; it was pure luck that I got what I did. Carroll probably wasn’t quite as excited that running back Marshawn Lynch wasn’t available to play because of an injury, but they survived the game without him:

Oct 5, 2015; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch (24) observes pre game warmups against the Detroit Lions at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Oct 5, 2015; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch (24) observes pre game warmups against the Detroit Lions at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Player introductions concluded with some detouring to the endzone for moments to themselves:

Oct 5, 2015; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Ricardo Lockette (83) walks in the end zone during pre game introductions against the Detroit Lions at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Oct 5, 2015; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Ricardo Lockette (83) walks in the end zone during pre game introductions against the Detroit Lions at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

There weren’t a lot of remarkable photos during the first quarter, which isn’t a surprise as there were no scoring plays, either. Mostly just defensive linemen tackling running backs, which wasn’t super-exciting in this photo:

Oct 5, 2015; Seattle, WA, USA; Detroit Lions defensive end Jason Jones (91) tackles Seattle Seahawks running back Thomas Rawls (34) during the first quarter at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Oct 5, 2015; Seattle, WA, USA; Detroit Lions defensive end Jason Jones (91) tackles Seattle Seahawks running back Thomas Rawls (34) during the first quarter at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

But a little more so in this one:

Oct 5, 2015; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Seahawks middle linebacker Bobby Wagner (54) and outside linebacker Bruce Irvin (51) tackle Detroit Lions fullback Michael Burton (46) during the first quarter at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Oct 5, 2015; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Seahawks middle linebacker Bobby Wagner (54) and outside linebacker Bruce Irvin (51) tackle Detroit Lions fullback Michael Burton (46) during the first quarter at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

I end up following the quarterback a lot, which often leads to some predictable photos, though sometimes it works out a little bit better than average, like when you can see one of his eyes thru the side of the face mask:

Oct 5, 2015; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (3) passes against the Detroit Lions during the second quarter at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Oct 5, 2015; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (3) passes against the Detroit Lions during the second quarter at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Finally in the second quarter there was a touchdown. I had just moved to the back line of the endzone a few plays after the one above since I felt like I had my necessary quarterback passing photo checked off. The new shooting position worked out for me, since I managed to capture the receiver catching the ball for a touchdown, just before being blocked by the referee (note the white and black blob at the left edge of the frame):

Oct 5, 2015; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin (89) catches a touchdown pass against Detroit Lions cornerback Quandre Diggs (28) during the second quarter at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Oct 5, 2015; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin (89) catches a touchdown pass against Detroit Lions cornerback Quandre Diggs (28) during the second quarter at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Luck wasn’t as much on my side during the subsequent celebration when the ESPN steadicam operator blocked me just as Wilson and Baldwin were head butting against each others’ facemask:

Oct 5, 2015; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (3) and wide receiver Doug Baldwin (89) celebrate their touchdown pass and reception, respectively, against the Detroit Lions during the second quarter at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Oct 5, 2015; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (3) and wide receiver Doug Baldwin (89) celebrate their touchdown pass and reception, respectively, against the Detroit Lions during the second quarter at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

:-/. ESPN literally pays billions of dollars for the access that they get, which is fine, but, ooooooffffff, it can be a little frustrating as a still shooter sometimes.

The third quarter wasn’t as exciting as the second, as low a threshold as that was to pass. Look, another lineman tackling a running back:

Oct 5, 2015; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett (72) tackles Detroit Lions running back Ameer Abdullah (21) during the third quarter at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Oct 5, 2015; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett (72) tackles Detroit Lions running back Ameer Abdullah (21) during the third quarter at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Or Russell Wilson faking a shovel pass:

Oct 5, 2015; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (3) fakes a shovel pass as he rushes against the Detroit Lions during the third quarter at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Oct 5, 2015; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (3) fakes a shovel pass as he rushes against the Detroit Lions during the third quarter at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Or a long incomplete pass that the Seahawks somehow didn’t intercept thanks to two defenders bumping into each other. So. Much. Neon:

Oct 5, 2015; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Seahawks cornerback Cary Williams (26) and strong safety Kam Chancellor (31) defend a pass intended for Detroit Lions wide receiver Golden Tate (15) during the third quarter at CenturyLink Field. Seattle defeated Detroit, 13-10. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Oct 5, 2015; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Seahawks cornerback Cary Williams (26) and strong safety Kam Chancellor (31) defend a pass intended for Detroit Lions wide receiver Golden Tate (15) during the third quarter at CenturyLink Field. Seattle defeated Detroit, 13-10. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford wasn’t too excited, either. He had thrown for barely 100 yards thru three quarters:

Oct 5, 2015; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Seahawks cornerback Cary Williams (26) and strong safety Kam Chancellor (31) defend a pass intended for Detroit Lions wide receiver Golden Tate (15) during the third quarter at CenturyLink Field. Seattle defeated Detroit, 13-10. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Oct 5, 2015; Seattle, WA, USA; Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) stands in the huddle during a third quarter timeout against the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field. Seattle defeated Detroit, 13-10. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

I had no idea that this play would be foreshadowing a play of greater significance later in the game. While I wish I was on the other side to see Chancellor more clearly, as a wire shooter for clients of all locations having a view of Johnson is probably equally as useful:

Oct 5, 2015; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Seahawks strong safety Kam Chancellor (31) tackles Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson (81) after a reception by Johnson during the fourth quarter at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Oct 5, 2015; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Seahawks strong safety Kam Chancellor (31) tackles Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson (81) after a reception by Johnson during the fourth quarter at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Oct 5, 2015; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Seahawks strong safety Kam Chancellor (31) reacts after his tackle against Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson (81) during the fourth quarter at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Oct 5, 2015; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Seahawks strong safety Kam Chancellor (31) reacts after his tackle against Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson (81) during the fourth quarter at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

After quickly returning to the field from transmitting a very pedestrian photo of a defensive touchdown at the other end of the field, I waited in the endzone as Detroit drove down the field for what they hoped to be at least a game-tying field goal or, if they were fortunate, game-winning touchdown play. Spoiler alert: they were not fortunate.

Faced with a third-and-one, just outside the ten-yard line, I wagered they would try to get the ball to their best player, Calvin Johnson and trained my camera on him as he lined up on my side of the field. My premonition proved correct as he caught a short pass for the first down and and sprinted towards the endzone for what all of Michigan probably had hoped would be a game-winning score. It was not to be as Chancellor, once again reprised his role as Superman, and knocked the ball away from Johnson at the very last moment:

Oct 5, 2015; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Seahawks strong safety Kam Chancellor (31) forces a fumble by Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson (81) at the goal line during the fourth quarter of a 13-10 Seattle victory at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Oct 5, 2015; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Seahawks strong safety Kam Chancellor (31) forces a fumble by Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson (81) at the goal line during the fourth quarter of a 13-10 Seattle victory at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

I hustled it back to the workroom to transmit it, and soon after the photo had some nice front page display on espn.com

Screen Shot 2015-10-05 at 8.40.17 PM

However, I didn’t manage to get a photo of the controversial conclusion of that play when a different Seahawks player knocked the ball out of the endzone. By the letter of the NFL rule book, that act should have resulted in Detroit getting the ball at the one yard line (and a likely score, though Seattle fans should know by now to not count their chickens before they hatch in such a scenario). But for whatever reason, the officials didn’t decide to throw a flag on the play. This shouldn’t surprise anyone who is superstitious as that corner of the field has had some strange events in the past happen in it.

To the naked eye in real life, the play looks something like this:

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While through my viewfinder, thanks to the mirror going up and down to allow for light to hit the camera sensor, it looked more like this:

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Hopefully that .gif doesn’t trigger a seizure for anyone!

At first I thought that Johnson had actually scored a touchdown, but an instant later the crowd reaction registered in my brain and I realized that briefly appeared on the side of my viewfinder for just a fraction of a second (probably about 1/30th?) was actually the football and there must have been a fumble and it had gone out of bounds. I actually stayed on Johnson and Chancellor for another 5-6 frames after this gif ends; I had absolutely no idea what really had happened until much later in the workroom when I saw the highlights. As you can see immediately above, it’s very challenging to follow what is going on in an unpredictable situation like that, so I won’t hold it against myself too harshly, but I’ll use it as a reminder that I always need to stay hyper-aware of what’s going on.

I’ll admit I was also thinking in the back of my head just before the play about how hard it was going to be for me to get to the other end of the field to shoot the game-tying field goal attempt if Detroit had failed to convert a first down on the play and debated whether I should move away from the end zone to cut down on that distance I had to sprint. But I counter-argued from that scenario with the fact that my spot in the corner of the end zone was a good position for a game-winning photo and stayed put. I just had no idea that it was a great spot for a game-winning photo by the team I wasn’t expecting to win at that instant. If the play had gone to the opposite corner I would have had a horrible position. If the Seahawks had pressured the quarterback, forced an incomplete pass and the Lions had attempted a field goal attempt, I probably wouldn’t have gotten to the other end of the field between plays to cover the game-tying kick. But none of that transpired and I happened to be kneeling at the intersection of preparation and opportunity when Chancellor knocked the ball from Johnson’s grasp inches from the goal line.

C’est la vie.

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