THE CHEAP SEATS with STEVE CAMERON: Pete’s way the way to go in 2019

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There are two ways to look at it.

Sunday’s collision between NFL bruisers Baltimore and San Francisco was hyped to the sky, and the promised heavyweight brawl delivered on schedule.

That’s how most of America and the world’s outskirts viewed it, no doubt.

On the league’s 100th anniversary, the two sluggers took the sport back at least half that far by matching blocks, tackles and some good old bone-crushing.

It could have been a Bears-Packers slugfest from 1952.

Or 1922.

Both teams’ passing games looked more like occasional necessities than anything they intended to do on purpose.

Fans tuning in expected to see this head-on train collision, and neutrals who like their football pure and savage wouldn’t have been disappointed.

The only forward passes that might be remembered from the game DID bring us back to the current century — as once again officials seemed to screw up a couple of pass interference calls that could have decided the game.

Thankfully, they didn’t.

WE SAID there were two ways to watch Sunday’s alley battle, remember?

The second was likely far more interesting in this part of the world — you know, where the Seahawks still consider themselves part of a looming Super Bowl argument.

From a Seattle perspective, the Ravens’ last-second 20-17 victory certainly eased an important door open just a crack.

The 49ers are now 10-2, but the Seahawks can match that record and join their Bay Area rivals atop the NFC West with a victory tonight at home against Minnesota.

And for what it’s worth, if the Seahawks can beat the 49ers at CenturyLink Field on the last day of the regular season, they’d have the luxury of absorbing a loss somewhere else — yet still winning the division because of a head-to-head tiebreaker with San Francisco.

Be warned, however: The Hawks probably won’t have an easy ride against Minnesota.

The Vikes are 8-3, and just a half-game behind Green Bay in the NFC North.

There are playoff implications all over the place tonight — and the rest of the way, for that matter.

The tangle this evening is interesting for more reasons than just their impact on the final playoff seedings.

Seattle’s two losses have both been at home (New Orleans and Baltimore), but the Seahawks have been historically good in prime time.

Meanwhile, Minnesota quarterback Kirk Cousins is a shocking 0-7 on Monday Night Football.

You have to assume Cousins wasn’t entirely to blame for all those losses, but he had plenty to do with them.

Cousins has been tagged, fairly or unfairly, with the reputation of a guy with tons of talent who doesn’t perform under the brightest lights.

So needless to say, he’d like to put that rep behind him with a big performance tonight.

BACK TO that bruising Ravens-49ers showdown for a minute…

After years of trying to achieve parity and doing a pretty good job of it, the NFL now seems to be heading in the opposite direction.

There are the powerhouses, like the two we saw on Sunday and the combatants loosening up for this evening’s “Battle in Seattle.”

You can add a few more to that list — New England, Green Bay, New Orleans, Kansas City (if Patrick Mahomes is healthy) and even Buffalo this time around.

But who else truly deserves to be considered a serious Super Bowl threat?

Dallas, which hasn’t beaten anyone of note? Philly, which just lost to Miami?

Certainly not the Rams, who came off last season’s Super Bowl loss with QB Jared Goff and running back Todd Gurley making truckloads of money – and now playing like dogs.

In other words, parity seems to be on hold as the league has split into halves and have-nots.

ONE FINAL thought as you gear up for tonight’s tailgating…

Don’t you think Pete Carroll was smiling on Sunday night — and not just because San Francisco absorbed a second loss?

With all the hoopla about the awesome running games created by Baltimore and the 49ers, Carroll is surely entitled to feel that the league has come all the way back around to his way of thinking — rather than turning into a pass-crazy circus.

Pete always has preached the idea of treasuring the football, and he wants his teams to run until somebody stops them, at which point the door is open for play-action passing.

Hey, Marshawn Lynch’s “Beast Mode” — not to mention the Legion of Boom — aren’t that far in the past.

And now we discover that all the really legitimate 2019 Super Bowl contenders seem built the same way…

Run the ball and punch you in the mouth.

Seattle’s 68-year-old guru seems to have led a revolution into the past.

Kind of cool, huh?

********

Email: scameron@cdapress.com

Steve Cameron’s “Cheap Seats” columns for The Press appear on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Steve also contributes the “Zags Tracker” package on Gonzaga basketball each Tuesday.

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