I thought looking at the few times Steve McNair lined up against the Seahawks would be a welcome break from the lurid details of his passing. The 2003 NFL Co-MVP only played against the Seahawks four times in his 13-year career (for the Houston Oilers, Tennessee Oilers, and Tennessee Titans), and the Seahawks won all four meetings. Here's a closer look:
1. 11/3/96 Seahawks 23, Oilers 16 (McNair: 12/18/225/1 TD/1 INT/105.1 rating)
This is one of the great finishes in Seahawks history.. I've mentioned our side of this one before:
An unremarkable game in a forgettable season... Except for the finish. Game tied at 16, with Houston trying a chip-shot FG for the win on the final play of regulation. In a matter of seconds, a sure defeat morphed into overtime (with a blocked FG attempt), and overtime dissolved into a Seahawks win when Robert Blackmon streaked into the end zone for the winning score.
This was a season-killer for the Oilers, who never really recovered. They only won three more games in 1996, finished 8-8 and missed the postseason by a single game. McNair played very well in this one, particularly when you consider that this was only his 3rd NFL start. By the start of the 1997 season, the Oilers packed up and moved to Tennessee, and McNair was the full-time starter.
2. 10/5/97 Seahawks 16, Oilers 13 (McNair: 12/28/101/1/2/42.9 rating)
This was my first year as a Seahawks season ticket holder, and my only vague memory of this one is Steve Broussard going absolutely buck-wild. He scored on two long runs for Seattle's only TDs on the day. McNair had a rough day at the office, but Eddie George's 116 yards helped keep the Oilers in the game. Despite playing in Memphis all year at a decrepit college stadium, Tennessee finished a respectable 8-8 and McNair had a decent inaugural season as their starting QB.
Side note: McNair's back-up QB in 1997 and 1998? Dave Krieg.
3. 11/29/98 Seahawks 20, Oilers 18 (McNair: 18/34/199/0/0/70.6 rating + 8 rushes for 64 yards and a TD)
Another game I got to see in person, and this one could have been on Alcoa's Fantastic Finishes... Jon Kitna actually outplayed McNair, but it took a James McKnight TD and a 48-yard Todd Peterson FG in the final seconds for the Seahawks to notch the win.
The Oilers finished 8-8 AGAIN in 1998, but in 1999 they'd be rechristened the Titans and fall only one yard short of forcing overtime in XXXIV.
4. 12/18/05 Seahawks 28, Titans 24 (McNair: 23/38/310/2/0/104.1 rating)
Despite coming in with a 4-9 record, the Titans gave the Super Bowl-bound Seahawks a mighty scare. McNair in particular came in with something to prove, and he delivered with his last great game as a Titan before moving on to Baltimore after the 2005 season. Tennessee spotted Seattle a 14-0 lead before a blocked FG radically changed the game's momentum... McNair marshalled the Titans to 24 unanswered points before Seattle found a way to shift the momentum again (with a long Bobby Engram catch & run and a stout defensive stand on a key 4th & 1)... The Hawks escaped Nashville with a 28-24 win and would clinch home field in the NFC playoffs a week later.
My most vivid memory of McNair will always be the penultimate play of XXXIV, where he scrambled for what seemed like 30 seconds, breaking tackles and dodging STL defenders before completing a long pass to set Tennessee up deep in Rams territory. The Titans fell one yard short on the next play, but that wasn't McNair's fault. If Tennessee wins that game, McNair probably would have won MVP honors.
McNair was a fearsome competitor, and his legacy as a great NFL quarterback is secure.