September 17, 2014

Don't Let The Darkness Touch Us

"Are you going to stop watching football?"

I'm surprised by the frequency with which I've been asked that question lately. The short answer is "Fuck no," but the underlying reasoning that impels me to keep watching is much more complex. If I'm honest with myself, I have to admit that being an NFL fan has left me feeling more than a little sleazy lately. Institutionally, it's clear that the NFL is rotten to the core, operating with no motivation other than avarice (it's telling that the Vikings changed course and sent Adrian Peterson away only after the NFL's corporate sponsors started voicing their displeasure). While the vast majority of NFL players are decent people, there are reprobates on every roster, and their misdeeds are largely tolerated as long as they produce on the field. In addition, despite a continuing (and positive) social evolution, the league is still severely afflicted with misogyny and homophobia. Finally, the concussion crisis looms over the sport like a pitch black storm front. 

So why do I keep watching? One reason is that the game itself is still RIDICULOUSLY entertaining. Once the 1 pm games kicked off last Sunday and I immersed myself in NFL Red Zone, I forgot about Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson, and Roger Goodell, and was swept away by the unfolding drama being played out on gridirons from Buffalo to Minneapolis. In a tangible way, the game is addictive (even more so when you add fantasy football and/or gambling to the mix). That's not enough, though. College football can be equally compelling/dramatic on TV, and I couldn't possibly be less invested in that action. 

So why do I keep watching? I keep watching because despite ALL of the misdeeds and missteps of the NFL, I cannot bear the thought of abandoning my beloved Seahawks. They're why I found myself yet again in a noisy, overpriced sports bar on a Sunday afternoon. I have to admit that if I was a "casual" fan, I would probably be more likely to drift away from the NFL. 

But I'm not. If you are reading this, you probably aren't either. Last night I went to a speech given by transgender icon/Emmy nominee Laverne Cox. What she said was raw and real and heartfelt, and I'm a huge fan of hers. But while I listened to her story, I was struck by how DIFFERENT it was from my personal experiences as a trans woman. That's understandable (and totally OK), but it underlined something that's always been an issue for me: I always have felt like a bit of an outsider. Even as a trans woman, I often feel like my experiences and perspectives don't really line up with everyone else in the group. It reminded me that I've felt my strongest emotions of belonging, and my most intense feelings of community and identity, as a Seahawks fan. Before anything else, I am a Twelve. 

I don't want to be a mindless drone. I don't want to be the type of person who would wear an Adrian Peterson jersey and bring a switch to a tailgating party. I want to be a thoughtful fan, an intelligent critic. I also know I don't really want to be faced with the dilemmas Vikings or Ravens fans are wrestling with right now. Every time a new story of NFL misconduct pops up, among my first thoughts is always "Thank God he's not a Seahawk." I hope that this darkness doesn't touch MY team, because I know that would lead to intense psychological discomfort. How would I react if Marshawn Lynch was the one who beat his kids? Or if Earl Thomas was caught on tape punching a woman? I'm squirming in my seat just thinking about the possibility, because I hope that I never find out how great my capacity for hypocrisy really is. I think about the women in Baltimore who were wearing Ray Rice jerseys to the game last week, and I wonder "How the fuck can they do that?" As implausible as it sounds, I've been wondering what I'd do with my new Russell Wilson jersey if I found out he'd committed some heinous offense. Would I grope for an excuse to keep wearing it, or would I just be very happy I have a #12 jersey as my back-up gameday gear?

The good news, as Will Leitch pointed out, is that as craven as the NFL is, it DOES respond to public pressure. My fervent hope is that the culture shift in the NFL will accelerate, its leadership will change, and I won't have to keep apologizing for following the team (and the game) I love. If I need to stop watching the NFL because of Rice/Peterson/Goodell, soccer fans should stop following their beloved sport because of Sepp Blatter and Qatar. Basketball fans should abandon roundball because of the pervasive racism in NBA front-offices, and so on. We live our lives negotiating our way through contradictions, simply hoping those contradictions don't become too sharp for us to bear. 

On the field I'm not concerned about the Seahawks. It took a combination of a perfect game from Phillip Rivers and a subpar afternoon from our defense for San Diego to beat us, and that's going to be very difficult blueprint for 90% of the NFL to replicate. I couldn't be more excited to see the Broncos coming to town. With our aura of invincibility punctured, the Legion of Boom will be primed to prove they're the same unit that shut down Manning and company in XLVIII. In front of 67,000 howling Twelves, they will. My pick? Seahawks 30, Broncos 20

I am POSITIVE that for three hours this Sunday, the Seahawks will remind me why I'm hopelessly addicted to this game. 

What do you think, sirs?

September 9, 2014

The Emerald Empire Rises

For a second there, I was worried.

Worried about the Seahawks losing their season-opening game against the Packers? Fuck no. Even though Green Bay jumped out to an early 7-3 lead they were as hopeless as the procession of poor schmucks Rocky Balboa pummeled during the opening montage of Rocky III. No. I was worried about becoming one of THOSE fans... Someone who lamented their team actually, FINALLY winning a Championship.

When I got to Washington State last week, I was gobsmacked by how totally my home state had reached the level of complete Seahawks Saturation. From Kennewick to Bellingham to Seattle, the Evergreen State was EVERY bit as batshit crazy about the Seahawks as Columbus is about the Ohio State Buckeyes (even more so, perhaps). My reaction to this new reality was... odd. I realized that a non-trivial portion of my Twelvedom is rooted in my pathological desire to be contrarian. Even though I bitch and moan about it, I kind of like being a "unicorn" Twelve out in Ohio. Back home, I suddenly no longer felt special. I felt... common. Yuck. It wasn't just geography, either. I was a Twelve back in The Forgotten Years. I remembered being mocked for wearing a Galloway jersey when all my friends were wearing Griffey or Kemp. I remembered TV blackouts (and driving outside the blackout zone to watch home games) and a half-full Kingdome. I remembered the team almost bolting for Los Angeles. I remembered people throwing around the moniker "Sea-Chickens" in reference to MY team, and now many of those same folks were striding about in #12 jerseys. Before last Thursday's opener, I found myself strangely deflated.

When we got to Seahawks Stadium, I felt like a doddering old lady. It was too crowded! Soundgarden and Pharrell were too loud! It was too hot! Mehhhhhhh! Who the fuck WAS I? I retreated into routine and headed down to the Seahawks tunnel like I do before every game. I was in a dark headspace. Was my Twelvedom ruined by success? I started having some truly unpleasant thoughts along those lines. What kind of a fucking douchenozzle had I become?

Then, kickoff. I roared. I bellowed. I howled. It was the exact same way I've acted at Seahawks games for 30 years. Something was different, though. It wasn't me, or the crowd. It was the guys clad in Seattle uniforms. Holy shit. There was no doubt about it: These guys were MARAUDERS. This was the best team I'd ever seen (or I ever would see). My negativity dissolved, replaced by an overwhelming feeling of gratitude. Had I ever seen a player as fast as Percy Harvin? Nope. Had I seen a defense as dominant as the Legion of Boom? A Seahawks quarterback as good as Russell Wilson? A running back as ferocious as Mashawn Lynch? No, no and no. Yes, the trappings of success had knocked me off track briefly, but I was jolted into a broader perspective...

I was at the summit, and I wouldn't stay there forever. Eventually, the Seahawks will slide back into mediocrity (I know it seems impossible, but even the Sun will run out of fuel someday), and I'll still be watching and coming to the games. The increasingly ancient Seahawks Stadiuim might not even be full for every game, and the memories of these moments would degrade into something less than high definition. If I didn't savor EVERY FUCKING MOMENT of The Emerald Empire, I'd never forgive myself. I had earned this. WE had earned this. A Wilco lyric drifted into my head...

And if the whole world's singing your songs
And all of your paintings have been hung
Just remember what was yours is everyone's from now on

And that's not wrong or right
But you can struggle with it all you like
You'll only get uptight

The struggle with success HAD made me uptight. As I watched our boys systematically SLAUGHTER a popular presesason Super Bowl favorite and the best quarterback in the game, I reached irrational heights of delirious joy. This wasn't just the best Seahawks team ever. This wasn't just the best team in the NFL today. This might end up as one of the greatest teams in the history of the sport.

Is that idea THAT irrational? Someone else mentioned on Twitter that the NFL was on schedule for a new dynasty to rise. The 60s had the Packers, the 70s had the Dolphins and Steelers, the 80s had the 49ers, the 90s had the Cowboys, and last decade had the Patriots. Why not us? The last two teams to finish a season undefeated were the 1929 Packers and the 1972 Dolphins. There were 43 seasons between those unbeaten campaigns. It's been 42 years since Miami went 17-0. We're about due for an undefeated season, don't you think?

Why be uptight when your team isn't just chasing glory, but immortality? On Sunday, I flew back to Ohio, but a week touring my home state left me refreshed and newly reconnected to my Northwest roots. Oh.. And three hours of screaming last Thursday left me sounding like one of Marge Simpson's sisters too... But I flaunted my hoarse, scratchy voice as a sonic badge of honor. And from now on, I intend to relax and enjoy the wild toboggan ride 2014 is sure to be.

So we'll plan on reconvening again in January for the playoffs, Seattle?

What do you think, sirs?

Why I'll Still Be Watching...

If you haven't yet, take five and a half minutes and watch the SCATHING Keith Olbermann Special Comment on the Ray Rice fiasco/scandal/tragedy above. You might not like Olbermann or his strident style, but I doubt you could disagree with a damn word he said. Ray Rice? He should never play again, and his ass should be in prison for a nice healthy stretch of time. Roger Goodell, along with top echelon NFL-management, should either resign or be fired. The judges and prosecutors who let Ray Rice off the hook so lightly should also lose their jobs, and the Baltimore Ravens, as an organization, should face punishment for their role in enabling Ray Rice's criminal actions. 

Let's be real, Twelves: It's not like our organization is without its own issues in terms of domestic violence. We all think that Ray Rice's behavior wouldn't have been tolerated if he had been a Seahawk, We all think that if OUR star halfback did something like that, PCJS would swiftly cut that piece of crap. They probably would. But what about the allegations against Tom Cable? What about Warren Moon? Sadly those aren't the only examples I could cite from our organization's history. We can rationalize these away: Cable was never charged, and Moon was acquitted. Shit, I KNEW about Moon's actions and still bought his Seahawks jersey 17 years ago. In a small way, I was giving my tacit support to what Moon did.

Olbermann is right about something else too: WE are culpable. Here I slightly disagree with him- We're not culpable because we are NFL fans. We're collectively culpable because of the meager resources available to victims of domestic violence. We're collectively culpable because our criminal justice system is so ineffective in protecting victims and punishing abusers. We're collectively culpable because so many of us fail to understand the psychological terror victims endure, or why it's so hard to leave an abusive relationship, and instead wonder "Why don't they just leave?" We're collectively culpable when we act in ways that perpetuate patriarchy, misogyny and rape culture. 

Does that mean that we should stop watching football? Does it mean that we should boycott the NFL? Some people are reaching that conclusion, and on a certain level I can't blame them. I certainly feel a little bit icky about being an unhinged NFL fanatic today. If you're one of those people from the outside who like to take potshots at the game (or call it "sportsball," or deride the "sheeple" who care about it), you will NEVER have more ammunition to use against the NFL than you do today. The league's leadership is rotten. Institutionally, it needs a culture change. 

Maybe that culture shift is already happening, though? Sure, the NFL and the Ravens only took decisive action after a public outcry, but it's worth noting that public outcry made the league change course. We DO have the ability to impact the league's behavior. Beyond that, legions of NFL players have taken strong public stances against domestic violence and a wide swath of the league's players support Michael Sam. The NFL isn't solely populated by modern versions of Kurt and Ram from Heathers. I can't fathom denying myself all of the joy the Seahawks bring me every Sunday because Roger Goodell is, as Ace Rothstein called someone in Casino, "Another Dumb Fuckin' White Man." I can't imagine abandoning a HUGE part of my personal identity and the feeling of community I have with my fellow Twelves because Ray Rice is an ambulatory slab of fetid rubbish.

Roughly half of the NFL's fanbase is women, and over the long term the league ignores us and our concerns at their financial peril. Things aren't changing as quickly as we'd hope, but they ARE changing. We must keep the pressure on the league to dump The Rog. We must act in our own communities to help victims of domestic violence and change entrenched, corrosive attitudes towards women. We must take political action to increase protections for victims of domestic violence, and to stiffen punishments for abusers. 

In summation: Fire Goodell, Act Locally, Lock Up Rice, and Go Hawks. 

Would you like to know more? 

August 22, 2014

Top 10: Seahawks Beat Bears!

Tonight the Chicago Bears visit Seahawks Stadium, and as usual in recent years their fans have sky-high expectations (which are almost certain to be dashed by another Jay Cutler injury). This is the "realest" game of the preseason, and the Bears will offer a decent test to a Seahawks team that looks primed for another Super Bowl run. Seattle has played Chicago only 16 times in 38 seasons, but many of those dust-ups have been particularly devastating/rapturously joyful for the Twelve Army. 

The last time the Bears came to Seattle, the Seahawks wore this: 

Oof. I admit that I liked those jerseys at the time (I even bought one), but that had to be out of some misguided, malignant desire to give a figurative middle finger to all those folks who were HEAPING derision upon us at the time. The game itself was uglier still: In September 2009, we didn't yet know that Jim Mora was going to complete the total destruction of our team, but one of the first harbingers of doom was his ugly post-game rant against Kicker Olindo Mare following a 25-19 home loss to the Bears.

The most agonizing defeats to the Bears went down in the post-season at new Soldier Field. In the 2006 Divisional Playoffs, the underdog Hawks pushed the heavily favored Bears to OT (in the last great game of Shaun Alexander's career) only to crap away the opening Sudden-Death possession and lose on a Robbie Gould FG. I'm among the legions of Twelves who will go to the grave convinced that Seattle would have made a repeat trip to the Super Bowl if they just could have scored on that initial OT drive. Ugh.

In the 2010 Divisional Playoffs, the Hawks got absolutely pulverized by the Bears, but scored a bunch of meaningless points in the 4th to make the final score a somewhat respectable 35-24 (Fun fact: that 11-point margin of defeat was the smallest of the season for the 8-10 Seahawks. Man, that season was WEIRD).

While it's easy to get stranded in those arid mental valleys of defeat, we've also climbed to many picturesque peaks of triumph against the Bears. Here's all 10 glorious vistas...

10. 12/12/82 Seahawks 20, Bears 14
This was an unremarkable game between two teams heading for losing seasons, but it's still notable for a couple of reasons. First, this was one of my earliest experiences rooting for Seattle as a 7-year-old proto-Twelve. Earlier that season I was rooting for Washington... Because I thought they were from Washington State (Facepalm). Once I figured that out, I started paying more attention to the Seahawks, and like many fans back then one player in particular enraptured me: Steve Largent. Number 80 hauled in 8 Jim Zorn offerings for 111 yards that day, and Seattle evened their record at 3-3 after an 0-2 start before the '82 Players' Strike. Weird notes? Jim Zorn outgained Walter Peyton on the ground, but Sweetness connected on a 39-yard TD pass to Brian Baschnagel.

9. 11/5/78 Seahawks 31 @ Bears 29
The 4-5 Hawks entered Soldier Field as 3-point underdogs, but they'd escape Chicago with a win that'd start a 5-2 streak to conclude the 1978 campaign. Sherman Smith dashed for 125 yards and two touchdowns, and Largent added 126 yards and a brace of touchdowns of his own. Sidebar: Chicago's coach that year was Neill Armstrong. Think about how many times he had to say "No, I'm not THE Neil Armstrong." Think about the mental discipline he had to exert to keep from rolling his eyes and sighing EVERY DAMN TIME it came up. Poor bastard.

8. 9/23/84 Seahawks 38, Bears 9
How did the Seahawks win with Dave Krieg only completing 6 passes? How did they win with Largent catching just one pass and while gaining a paltry 203 yards of total offense? The Seattle defense OBLITERATED Chicago's offense, sacking Chicago QBs 4 times, forcing 6 turnovers, and scoring a trio of touchdowns. This was also only the 2nd Seahawks game I ever attended, and Largent's lone catch will be forever burned into my memory banks. It's at the 0:27 mark of the clip below. WOW.

7. 10/19/03 Seahawks 24, Bears 17
The Seahawks came into this game 4-1 and as 11-point favorites over the 1-4 Bears. The Hawks sputtered out to a 17-6 lead and the Twelve Army watched in horror as Chicago scored a field goal, a touchdown, and a two-point conversion in short order to tie the game. Seattle got the ball with four minutes left, and Shaun Alexander gobbled up 48 of his 101 rushing yards on that final drive, including a 25-yard touchdown run to put the Hawks back on top. A Marcus Trufant interception on Chicago's ensuing drive sealed the win, but this near-miss was a harbinger of the collapses to come (later that season in Baltimore, and... well... the entire 2004 season).

6. 9/19/99 Seahawks 14 @ Bears 13
Ladies and gents, this was the one and only highlight of the brief Glenn Foley era in Seahawks lore. In fact, it was Foley's only start at QB for the Seahawks. At least he made the most of it, throwing for 283 yards, 2 4th quarter TDs and no picks. This was a pretty typical 10-am-start sleepwalking performance for Seattle until the final quarter, when the Seahawks sprung up off the mat and erased a 13-0 Chicago advantage. In the final minutes, Foley hit Fabian Bownes (who?) for the game-winning 49-yard score.

On a personal note, this game went down on my first weekend after moving out to Columbus for grad school, and the Seahawks win took the edge off the spectacular loneliness and isolation I was feeling at the time. More about the 1999 season here...

5. 11/18/07 Seahawks 30, Bears 23
The Twelve Army was still smarting from that OT divisional playoff loss at Soldier Field 10 months earlier, and demanded a small measure of satisfaction in the rematch at Seahawks Stadium. Chicago jumped out to a worrisome 10-0 lead early, but Matt Hasselbeck came through with an all-time great performance: 30/44 for 337 yards, 2 TDs and 0 picks (isn't Beck's 2007 season incredible in retrospect, given that Seattle absolutely couldn't do a damn thing on the ground?). D.J. Hackett flashed his (ultimately untapped) potential with a 9-catch, 136-yard day, and the defense sealed the win by forcing a Rex Grossman fumble late in the 4th quarter. Side note: this was also the game where The Traitor Josh Brown LIT UP Devin Hester on a kickoff return... ahhh, memories.

4. 12/18/11 Seahawks 38 @ Bears 14 
Despite missing important starters like Jay Cutler and Matt Forte, the Bears were still favored to beat the Seahawks. No one should ever get too high and mighty about dominating Caleb Hanie and Josh McCown, but the Seattle defense DID rack up four sacks and four interceptions that day, including the momentum-shifting 3rd Quarter pick-six from Red Bryant. Big Red snatched Hanie's errant toss out of the air and rumbled 20 yards for the score that put Seattle ahead for good in one of the highlights of the 2011 Seattle campaign.

3. 10/17/10 Seahawks 23 @ Bears 20
The 2-2 Seahawks were supposed to get mangled by the big, scary 4-1 Bears, but Seattle shocked every Non-Twelve alive and delivered the first big road win of the Pete Carroll era. Marshawn Lynch scored a TD in his first Seahawks action after being traded by Buffalo, and the Hawks hung on for the victory after getting TERRORIZED by a late Devin Hester punt return TD. As I wrote in this space at the time:

Usually it's Seattle's QB who takes a 3-hour beating when the Hawks hit the road. Not today... It was amazing to watch the Seahawks defense beat Jay Cutler to a dazed, fuzzy pulp with six sacks, a safety, and a fuck-load of hits/hurries.

Usually it's an opposing WR that runs wild all over Seattle for 10 catches and 135 yards. Not today... Mike Williams fucking TOOK the #1 WR job today with a "comeback player of the year" sort of performance.

It went on and on... Russell Okung took a big step towards me buying his jersey with a complete ERASURE of Julius Peppers. The young guys in our secondary got beat a handful of times, but overall they played great, buttressed by the veteran leadership of Lawyer Milloy and future Ring-of-Honoree Marcus Trufant. Jon Ryan pinned the Bears inside the 20 what, like 17 times? It sure felt that way.

Beast Mode/Young Nastman are going to spearhead a great ground attack, hopefully well into the middle of the decade. It was heartening to see Lynch turn negative plays into something positive, if not at least neutral, more than once. 

(It's bracing to go back and read my old posts. Remember when we thought Mike Williams was going to become an All-Pro WR? Remember when I used to call Justin Forsett "Young Nastyman?" And I did seriously want an Okung jersey back then?) 

2. 12/2/12 Seahawks 23 @ Bears 17 (OT)
I can't really improve upon what I wrote at the time... Here's an excerpt:

The Seahawks trailed 14-10 late in the 4th, but on the final regulation drive Russell Wilson started picking up chunks of real estate with his arm and his legs, and suddenly Seattle was across midfield. Wilson made a spectacular throw on the run to Sidney Rice, and Golden Tate topped that with a stupendous effort to score the winning touchdown with only 20 seconds left to play. Twelves loosed a million celebratory tweets- We were going to pull it off. 

Effervescent joy turned into black, curdled despair in an instant. Jay Cutler chucked it deep to an inexplicably open Brandon Marshall (who DOMINATED Seattle DBs all afternoon) and Chicago was in field goal range. Our old nemesis Robbie Gould banged home the tying field goal... Overtime. The most painful Seahawks loss since Super Bowl XL loomed. I started dreading the aftermath, and plotted my strategy for avoiding media coverage of this devastating collapse. Every Seahawks fan alive KNEW that if Chicago got the ball back, we would lose. We no longer trusted our defense to secure victory- Our only chance was to win the coin toss and drive all the way into Bears territory and score ANOTHER touchdown. I was a wreck. I was sitting in front of my computer, shaking, frazzled and gently weeping... and with no real expectation of victory. 

Eighty MORE yards (and the Bears defense) stood between the Seahawks and a narrative-shifting, season-altering victory. Russell Wilson's temperament is thankfully much more stable than mine, and he led the Hawks on a triumphant 12-play, 7-and-a-half minute march. Wilson personally chewed up 28 of those yards on the ground, and only threw two passes over the entire drive. One was a perfect dart to Doug Baldwin to convert a 3rd-and-10, and the other was the game-winning touchdown pass to Sidney Rice, who got over the goal line before getting absolutely DESTROYED by a Bears defender. 

Two drives. 177 yards. Two game-winning touchdowns. That's what Russell Wilson delivered on Seattle's last two possessions. On a day that seemed to fit all the cliches of failure in Seahawks lore, Wilson decided to punch up the script and write a more interesting ending.

Seattle wouldn't lose again in the 2012 regular season, and they'd outscore their last four victims by an aggregate score of 170-43.One sobering note: Sidney Rice's winning touchdown takes on somber overtones now that he is out of football due to concussions sustained on plays like the final one in overtime that day.

1. 12/20/87 Seahawks 34, Bears 21
The Seahawks came to Chicago needing a win to clinch a spot in the playoffs. Considering that they faced a trip to Arrowhead the next week, Seattle's post-season hopes seemed dim. Not only was it a 10 am kickoff with the wind chill in the 20s, it was also the final regular season home game for the great Walter Payton. To the vast bulk of the football public, the Seahawks might as well have been wearing unis that said "Opponent" like Homer Simpson wore before he fought Drederick Tatum.

The Seahawks responded by delivering their best performance of that 1987 season. Walter Payton was held to 79 yards rushing; the Seattle defense, led by Brian Bosworth (who wasn't bad at all in '87), Eugene Robinson, and the Nash/Bryant/Green wall, forced 5 turnovers. Dave Krieg was basically flawless, Curt Warner scored twice, and John L. Williams delivered one of the greatest TDs in team history (1:45 mark of following clip).

What do you think, sirs?  

August 14, 2014

Top 10: Seahawks Beat Chargers!

Did you know that the San Diego Chargers are the only former AFC West foe the Seahawks have a winning record against? It's not even an impressive winning record, with the Hawks winning only 26 of 49 total regular season meetings. Whenever you hear an old-school Twelve blathering about how they miss being in the NFC West, please point out that our combined record against the Broncos, Raiders and Chiefs while we were in the AFC West was 63-81. That's a .437 winning percentage. For some perspective, the NL Central DEAD LAST Chicago Cubs have a .437 winning percentage today. Shout it from the rooftops: Realignment was the best thing that ever happened to the Seattle Seahawks.

In order to get psyched for Friday night's preseason home opener, here's our Top 10 wins over our old Southern California rivals... Enjoy!

BONUS GAME: 12/24/06 Chargers 20 @ Seahawks 17
Why am I wasting time writing about a loss? Seattle came into this one on a two-game skid, losing at Arizona and completely crapping their pantaloons on national television against the Niners. The mighty 12-2 Chargers were coming to Seahawks Stadium, and while a loss wouldn't knock Seattle out of the playoff hunt, another home blowout loss would have psychologically killed the reeling Hawks.

Thankfully, the Seahawks showed some moxie and took a 17-13 lead late into the 4th, buttressed by one of the last great games of Shaun Alexander's career (140 yards on 31 carries with 2 TDs). Late in the game word spread: The Cardinals had beaten the 49ers, and the NFC West title was Seattle's once again. Phillip Rivers hit Vincent Jackson for a late go-ahead TD to spoil some of those good vibes, but the Hawks would take the regular season finale at Tampa before defeating Dallas in the 2006 NFC Wild Card Game. The salvaging of the 2006 season started in this loss to the Chargers.

10. 12/14/86 Seahawks 34 @ Chargers 24
This was part of the magical 5-game winning streak that ended the 1986 season. Dave Krieg out-dueled future Hall-of-Famer Dan Fouts, going 15-21 for 305 yards, with 4 TDs and zero picks. Steve Largent snagged two touchdowns and Curt Warner ground out 93 yards rushing. Side note: For almost the entire decade of the 1980s, the Seahawks OWNED the Chargers, going 12-2 against them from 1981-1989.

9. 9/21/97 @ Seahawks 26, Chargers 22 
This was the first win I attended as a Seahawks season ticket holder back in 1997, and it was a dramatic one. The Hawks fell behind 13-3 early, but Warren Moon hit Mack Strong for a short touchdown and Galloway for a 53-yarder in the 4th. A late Steve Broussard TD sealed the win, and I went home happy after two embarrassing losses to start my tenure as a season ticket holder.

8. 10/26/96 @ Seahawks 32, Chargers 13
 Remember how I said the Hawks dominated the Bolts in the '80s? Well, San Diego won 10 out of our first 13 meetings in the 1990s until this satisfying 1996 blowout. Chris Warren glided for 146 yards and a touchdown, and Darryl Williams ran a pick back 79 yards for another score. This one was a rare moment of joy in a dreary 7-9 campaign.

7. 11/27/87 @ Seahawks 34, Chargers 3
The Chargers came into the Dome at 8-1, with (still plausible) dreams of hosting Super Bowl XXII. After this comprehensive demolition they'd go on to end the season with five MORE losses, and end up out of the playoffs at 8-7. Curt Warner, John L. Williams and Steve Largent all scored, and Fredd Young notched two sacks in this season-killing win.

6. 10/29/84 Seahawks 24 @ Chargers 0
On Monday Night Football the Hawks blanked the Chargers at Jack Murphy Stadium, powered by Krieg's trio of TD strikes to Steve Largent. This game was the start of a 4-game stretch that saw Seattle's defense allow only 20 total points. Perhaps the Chargers were still bummed about their Padres roommates getting wiped out in the 1984 World Series?

5. 11/16/81 @ Seahawks 44, Chargers 23
At this point, the Seahawks had never defeated the Chargers, and the 3-7 Hawks looked doomed going into an MNF tilt against the playoff-bound Bolts. Even if you don't remember the game (I don't), you might have seen Dan Doornink's electrifying 80-yard TD scamper on an NFL Films highlight reel. Sure, the Chargers would go on to win the greatest game ever played, and the Hawks would meekly finish 6-10, but Seattle's 0-8 streak v. Air Coryell was over.

4. 9/15/85 Seahawks 49 @ Chargers 35
Both QBs had RIDICULOUS stat lines in this one...
Dan Fouts: 29/43, 440 yards, 4 TDs, 1 int
Dave Krieg: 22/32 307 yards, 5 TDs!!, 0 int
Seattle speedster Daryl Turner? He just had 7 catches for 121 yards and FOUR TDs! This was probably the highlight of the Seahawks' mind-meltingly inconsistent 1985 season

3. 12/30/01 Seahawks 25 @ Chargers 22
The Hawks were fighting for thier playoff lives in the penultimate game of the 2001 season, and it looked like they were about to blow a late lead. San Diego tied the game with seconds left, and overtime looked inevitable.I was home visiting the Tri-Cites, watching the game on TV with my family. The rest of you may have had a similar experience screaming this during the ensuing kickoff...


Roger's big kickoff return set up Rian Lindell for the 54-yard game winner at the gun. Trent Dilfer fired three touchdown passes in arguably his best performance as a Seahawk, with two of those TDs being snagged by D-Jack.

2. 12/29/02 Seahawks 31 @ Chargers 28
Matt Hasselbeck out-dueled Drew Brees (and not for the last time), piling up a career-high 449 yards passing. Seattle trailed 28-14 in the 4th quarter, but Beck fired one touchdown pass to Koren Robinson to draw Seattle within seven, and scored the tying touchdown himself with a lone second left in regulation. Rian Lindell would sink the Chargers again (in OT this time), and Hasselbeck wrapped up an astounding 10-game stretch where he'd throw for over 3000 yards and help salvage a 7-9 season after an abysmal 1-5 start.

1. 9/26/10 @ Seahawks 27, Chargers 20
It seems strange, but less than four years ago the Seahawks were an almost entirely different team. The Marshawn Lynch trade hadn't happened yet, so our leading rusher was still Justin Forsett (Aww. I just made myself miss Young Nastyman). Russell Wilson was still at North Carolina State, and Richard Sherman was still being coached by Jim Harbaugh at Stanford. The Hawks took the field as heavy underdogs against the mighty Chargers, and if all you did was look at the statline, you would have thought San Diego won in a blowout. But as I wrote in this space back then:

Yeah, the Chargers outgained the Seahawks 518-271. Who gives a fuck when you've got Leon Washington racking up 253(!) kickoff return yards and two spectacular touchdowns? Yeah, Philip Rivers threw for 455 yards. Good for him and his fantasy owners. He also threw 2 key interceptions to Earl Thomas (including the game-clincher late in the 4th) and took a pretty fucking brutal beating. Finally, the Chargers didn't turn the ball over five times. The Seahawks TOOK the ball away 5 times, you sumbitches! 

As we know now, that upset of San Diego was only the appetizer before the biggest upset in NFL playoff history a few months later. This was also the day we saw Earl Thomas' first steps toward football immortality.

Any other warm and fuzzy memories of blacking out the Chargers you wanna share, Twelves? Have at it in the comments section!