(I wrote an earlier version of this for Field Gulls last year, but this is updated to include our victory at Soldier Field last October- Enjoy!)
It's getting to the point that we actually have a semi-rivalry with the Bears, given how often we've played them lately and the fact that they bounced us from the 2007 and 2010 playoffs. I can honestly say I hate them; not in the way I hate the Steelers, Niners, Rams, Cardinals, Broncos, Raiders or Cowboys, of course... But it's still low-grade hatred I feel when I am forced to think about that team in Chicago. Why?
It's mostly because they have an insufferable fan base that has made living in the past a twisted form of high art. Yes, the Bears have a long, impressive history of playing hard-nosed defense (which Chicago fans will never shut up about), but their actual level of overall team success doesn't match the hype. Just for funsies, let's compare the Bears and Seahawks since the start of the 1986 season:
Winning seasons? Bears 12, Seahawks 11.
Playoff appearances? Bears 10, Seahawks 9.
Division titles? Bears 9, Seahawks 7.
Super Bowl appearances? Both teams have 1.
Very similar profiles, huh? But you'd never know it because of the huge shadow cast by the 1985 Bears.
Obviously, the '85 Bears were one of the greatest teams in NFL history. How do I know this? Because there are about a krillion former Bears in the media spotlight who NEVER STOP BLATHERING ABOUT IT. On top of that, since a ton of actors, comedians, musicians and even Presidents hail from Chicago, the team gets a huge share of pop culture attention, particularly when they experience even modest success.
1985 was a LOOOOONG time ago. I was 10, and I bet a huge swath of you readers weren't even born yet. Today, the Bears are a wounded team in a death-spiral, and the Seahawks will finish them off for good on Sunday. But enough about the glorious future... Let's look back on Seattle's 5 greatest wins over these schmoes...
5. 9/23/84 Seahawks 38, Bears 9
The Bears came into the Kingdome undefeated, and likely thought the Curt-Warner-less Hawks represented an easy opportunity to run their record to 4-0, right? Mr. Schwarzenegger, a little help?
The Bears actually took a 7-0 lead on a Walter Payton TD PASS (!), but it was all Seahawks after that, including one of the greatest catches of Steve Largent's career (1:03 mark of following clip)
This was also the 2nd Seahawks game I ever attended in person, so it's got a special place in my heart.
4. 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.
3. 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 Josh Brown LIT UP Devin Hester on a kickoff return... ahhh, memories.
2. 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 flipped the script and authored the first big road win of the Pete Carroll era- As I wrote in this space last year:
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.
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).
I expect the 2011 Seahawks do go forth and do likewise this Sunday.
What do you think, sirs?