December 27, 2011

Bottom 5 WORST Seahawks Regular Season Finales

I usually try to emphasize the positive here on my blog, but I'm depressed and pissed off right now, so here's the five WORST regular season finales in Seahawks history. Fuck.

5. 12/23/00 Bills 42 @ Seahawks 23
The Seahawks were coming off an emotional victory over the hated Raiders, and I hoped they'd close the 2000 season strong by beating Doug Flutie and the Bills in front of a national TV audience. Instead, they face-planted in their final game ever at Husky Stadium, coughing up four turnovers and letting Flutie go apeshit for 397 total yards and three TDs.

4. 1/2/00 Jets 19, Seahawks 9
If the Seahawks could beat the Jets, they'd get some small measure of payback for Testaverde's "Phantom Touchdown" the previous season, and they'd win the AFC West title. Unfortunately the Hawks let Curtis Martin ramble for 154 demoralizing, clock-chewing yards and slowly faded into what felt like an inevitable defeat. The loss forced us Twelves to root for the FUCKING RAIDERS to beat Kansas City so Seattle could back into its first playoff berth since 1988. Yes, it was great that Oakland delivered, but I'm sure I'm not the only one who needed to take a long, hot shower after rooting for those asswedges.

3. 12/27/87 Chiefs 41, Seahawks 20
With a win over the 3-11 bottom-feeding Chiefs, the Seahawks would earn a home playoff game on Wild Card Weekend against the Houston Oilers. The Seahawks had just went on the road and bested the mighty Chicago Bears, so this would be easy-peasy, right? The problem? This one was at Arrowhead, and the Seahawks couldn't beat the 1976 Bucs if they played them at Arrowhead back in the 1980s...

Bill Kenney (who?) outgunned Dave Krieg and the Chiefs turned a 24-20 3rd-quarter brawl into a 41-20 pancaking by the final whistle. To make it even worse, Curt Warner would get injured and miss Seattle's Wild Card game at the Astrodome (which we'd lose 23-20 in OT).

2. 12/15/84 Broncos 31 @ Seahawks 14
With a win, the Seahawks would have won the AFC West and earned a first-round bye before hosting a divisional playoff game. The Kingdome crowd was cranked up to full volume to will Seattle to a victory, but the players didn't hold up their end of the bargain. The Broncos were badly outgained and lost the turnover battle (Elway threw FOUR interceptions), but somehow managed a relatively easy 31-14 victory. Instead of a bye week, the Seahawks had to bludgeon the Raiders to death before limping to Miami and getting carved to bits by Dan Marino.

1. 12/23/89 Redskins 29 @ Seahawks 0
I was overjoyed when my father got us tickets to Steve Largent's final game- I was 14 years old, and I spent WAY too much time fantasizing about how spectacular Largent's finale would be... I settled on the idea that he'd catch the winning TD in overtime, and just keep going into the tunnel- a perfect Ted Williams-esque finish!

Nope. Largent went out quietly with only 41 yards on 2 receptions, and the Seahawks sleepwalked to a shameful 29-0 defeat. Yes, the Seahawks made me cry that day. Jerks.

December 26, 2011

Seahawks Top 10 Regular Season Finales

The Seahawks go into Glendale on New Year's Day striving to level their record at 8-8, which would provide the team (and us Twelves) a pleasant conclusion to a hope-building season. In our franchise history, Seattle is a maddeningly inconclusive/mediocre 18-17 in regular season finales. Here's the Top 10 wins that either sent us into the offseason on a rousing high note, or in some cases rocketed us headlong into the postseason- Enjoy!

10. 12/21/97 Seahawks 38, Niners 9
The Niners came in with their playoff seeding locked in, and treated this like a glorified preseason game. Despite that, this was still a very satisfying win to close out my first season as a season ticket holder. Warren Moon wrapped up his spectacular 1997 season with four TD passes, including two to Joey Galloway. Michael Sinclair notched two sacks to bring his season total to 12, and Chris Warren closed out his Seahawks career with 99 yards (making him the all-time leading rusher in Seahawks history by a single yard over Curt Warner until Shaun Alexander came to town).

9. 12/29/02 Seahawks 31 @ Chargers 28 (OT)
This win might have "only" gotten the Seahawks to 7-9, but it was a thrilling glimpse of the great things coming in the mid-00s for Seattle. Matt Hasselbeck closed out an amazing 2nd half of the 2002 season with a career high 449 yards passing, outdueling future Hall-of-Famer Drew Brees. The Hawks trailed 28-14 in the final quarter, but Hasselbeck rallied the Seahawks to tie the game in the waning moments of regulation and then whipped the offense into field goal range in Sudden Death. Itula Mili and Koren Robinson both had 100-yard days and John Randle added three key sacks of Brees.

8. 1/6/02 Seahawks 21, Chiefs 18
This one is very deserving of a spot on this list, but it was still a pretty damn somber win despite Alexander's 127 yards rushing and Darrell Jackson's pair of touchdowns...

A) This game was rescheduled from right after the 9/11 attacks, so that was on everyone's minds.

B) It was the most intolerable weather I've ever sat through at an NFL game. Heavy rain, wind gusts, temps in the 30s... WAY worse than simple cold or snow- And it was at Husky Stadium, which was usually a pain in the ass even in the best weather.

C) Late in a fairly boring Seattle win, we found out that John Hall had hit a 50+ yard FG to beat the Raiders and almost certainly kill Seattle's playoff hopes.

D) We decided to do the park & ride thing to and from the game. Big mistake that day.... Wet, cold and depressed, it took almost two hours on the bus to get back to the parking lot. Ugh.

7. 12/30/90 Seahawks 30, Lions 10
A win would keep Seattle alive for the playoffs (but they'd need Pittsburgh to beat Houston in the SNF game too), but the electric Barry Sanders was coming to town with the rest of the Lions in tow.

The tandem of Derrick Fenner and John L. Williams clearly outplayed the NFL's leading rusher, as Sanders was held to only 23 yards while the Seahawks piled up 151 yards rushing. The Seattle defense sacked Detroit QBs 5 times, and Eugene Robinson scooped up a fumble and returned it for a TD... A tie game at the half became an easy 30-10 Seahawks win, and the Twelve Army was sent home happy but nervous...

I had the particularly terrible experience of listening to Seattle's playoff dreams die on the long, treacherous drive over the pass and back to the Tri-Cities. Houston pounded the Steelers 34-14, which meant that the 9-7 Oilers and Bengals made the playoffs despite the fact that both teams lost to the 9-7 Seahawks (The Bengals won the AFC central, and Houston had a better conference record than the Seahawks and the 9-7 Steelers). Grrr.

6. 12/20/86 Seahawks 41, Broncos 16
The 1986 Seahawks would miss the playoffs on tiebreakers, but after this demolition of the eventual AFC Champion Broncos, the rest of the NFL breathed a collective sigh of relief. Curt Warner rambled for 192 yards and three touchdowns, Daryl Turner scored twice, and the Hawks racked up 586(!) yards of total offense. The Seahawks would be picking chunks of Bronco out of their cleats for a week after this one- Total domination.

5. 1/2/05 Seahawks 28, Falcons 26
The Hawks had already clinched a playoff spot, but with a win in the season finale (or a Rams loss to the Jets), Seattle would win its first NFC West title. I was at this one, and with the playoff-bound, seeding-locked-in Falcons treating it like an exhibition game, I loved our chances.

But this was 2004- and this team was determined to torture their fans. They fell behind 17-7 before clawing back into a 21-20 4th quarter lead. Matt Hasselbeck scored on a QB sneak to make it 28-20 in the waning minutes (oh, we'll come back to that), but the Falcons marched right back down to the Hawks' Nest to get within a two-point conversion of OT... But then a draw play- Dunn struggling for the goal line- and he is stopped short! Wooooo! NFC West Champions!

Hold those positive vibes, though. In a post-game interview, Shaun Alexander accused Coach Holmgren of "stabbing him in the back" when he called for that QB sneak, rather than handing it to #37. It turned out that Alexander was one yard short of winning the NFL rushing title, and was also acutely aware of that fact. Holmgren either didn't know or (more likely) didn't care, and suddenly the story wasn't Seattle's division title and upcoming home playoff game- It was Alexander's outburst, which ultimately gave unlimited ammunition to Seahawks fans already predisposed to dislike him for his less-than-hard-nosed running style.

4. 12/27/03 Seahawks 24 @ Niners 17
The Seahawks went to Candlestick Park for a Saturday afternoon game just after Xmas, needing a win and some help the following day to qualify for the postseason for only the 2nd time since 1988. Seattle entered the game at 9-6, but sported a pathetic 1-6 road record coming into the game. Niners coach Dennis Erickson was hoping for a win to finish the season 8-8 (which was a habit he picked up back in Seattle during the 1990s), and to exact vengeance upon his old employers and the coach who replaced him in Seattle.

The Hawks quickly fell behind 14-0, and lamentations of "same old Seahawks" rang out across the land like church bells. Another winning but playoff-free season loomed.. It was '78, '79, '86, and '90 allll over again... but the Seahawks clawed and gouged back into the game, and then something amazing happened late in the 3rd:

Matt Hasselbeck threw a PERFECT pass to Koren Robinson in the back of the end zone... and K-rob HELD ONTO IT and got both feet in bounds. 21-17 Seahawks. Josh Brown extended the lead to 7, and Shaun Alexander ate up most of the 4th quarter on the ground. The D stopped a last-gasp Niners drive, and Seattle triumphed in a game very few expected them to win.

3. 1/2/11 Seahawks 16, Rams 6
It was fashionable for the national media to crap on this game between a 7-8 and 6-9 teams that would decide the NFC West title. It was damn near conventional wisdom among Seahawks "fans" that the team would be better off losing the game and getting a higher draft pick than going to the playoffs only to get bludgeoned to death by a superior team.

53 players, their coaches and 67,000 screaming Twelves didn't give a FUCK about any of that shit. Charlie Whitehurst etched his name into Seahawks history by leading Seattle to a win over the prematurely anointed Rams- He hit Ruvell Martin for a huge gain on the opening drive, which he closed by connecting with Mike Williams for what would ultimately be the deciding touchdown.

Whitehurst got a huge assist from Seattle's maligned offensive line and the defense crashed The Sam Bradford Coronation Party, spiked the punch, smashed the ice sculptures, and ate all the bacon-wrapped shrimp. Steven Jackson was held to 45 yards rushing, and the only points STL could muster were two field goals by The Traitor Josh Brown.

2. 12/18/83 Seahawks 24, Patriots 6
The 8-7 Seahawks found themselves needing a home win against the 8-7 Patriots to clinch the franchise's first-ever playoff berth.

My Dad took me to that game (my 1st ever, at age 8), and EVERYTHING about it was awe-inspiring; from the first moment I saw the Kingdome driving in from I-90, to the dizzying cavernous grandeur of the Dome's interior. Of course, as I grew older I began to consider King County Stadium more or less a shithole, but on that day, it was the Louvre to me.

I screamed for what seemed like 4 hours straight, starting with a shrieking series of boos aimed at the Patriots as they took the field for warm-ups. We were in the 300 level, and there was no way they could possibly have heard me, but I still roared until my voice was gone. What an annoying little shit, huh?

The game itself was perfect: The deafening roar of the 12th Man, a Largent touchdown, and an easy blowout victory. Famously, the Seahawks came out of the locker room after the game to mingle with the remaining Soldiers of Twelve left in the Dome. If I wasn't already hooked for life, this game sealed the deal.

1. 12/18/88 Seahawks 43 @ Raiders 37
L.A. and Seattle came into the Coliseum that day with a combined record of 15-15, but the winner would make the playoffs. On that damp, dreary, Seattle-like day, the Seahawks were playing for their first AFC West title. Both defenses seemed to have brought the wrong shoes for the muddy track... The teams traded scores all day, but the Hawks pulled ahead in the 4th and held on for the biggest regular-season road win in team history, keyed by a spectacular John L. Williams TD on a perfectly executed "middle screen."

Here's the whole game! 1st half, then 2nd half... Dig it!

What do you think, sirs?

December 25, 2011

Niners 19, Seahawks 17

When I woke up this morning, my first thought wasn't "Yay! It's Christmas!" It was "Shit. We lost."

This one hurts. It hurts more than I thought a loss by a 7-7 Seahawks team would. It hurts because the 49ers are such a despicable, classless organization. It hurts because if one or two more plays had broken our way, we would have won. It hurts because our playoff hopes are now kaput. It hurts because now it's sinking in that season is almost over- Sometimes, like in 2009, the end of the season is a blessing. 2011 isn't like that, though. I would love to spend more than one last afternoon on New Year's Day watching these guys play. They're exciting, they're enthusiastic, and they fight... But the best thing is that they are still improving.

Tarvaris Jackson is taking a lot of heat, and for his performance overall yesterday that's justified- But there isn't a magical upgrade at QB waiting out there for the Seahawks to make this offseason. If the Seahawks draft a quarterback, it will be someone who will sit for a year or two behind Jackson, and no available free agent is a clear upgrade over T-Jack. Our hope for 2012 will have to be that as the team continues to improve around Jackson, we will also see an uptick in his level of play. I sincerely believe that with another great draft and FA period, the Seahawks will be a 10+ win team in 2012, even with Jackson playing at his current (fairly average) level.

The Seahawks showed who they were yesterday: A young, talented team that isn't QUITE ready to make that leap into the top tier of the league yet. It's little, correctable things for the most part: A blown coverage here, a special teams breakdown there, a broken play at the goal line that costs us 4 points. But the big bad Niners didn't push the Seahawks around physically, and breaking up their streaks of denying rushing TDs/100-yard rushers IS significant, even in defeat. Marshawn Lynch must return to the Seahawks next season, assuming we can franchise him or give him a fair, market-value deal. I understand the argument that running backs are somewhat fungible, but Lynch's talent and intensity are key to the success of this Seattle offense. If the Hawks can keep him without totally fucking up their cap situation, they absolutely should.

So we stand at 7-8 with a game remaining, out of playoff contention. I still think next week is important for a number of reasons, though:

-Avoiding a 4th consecutive losing season
-Finishing 2nd in the NFC West, and notching a winning record in the division
-Evening our road record at 4-4, which is a rare feat for this franchise
-Because winning beats losing, you know (as Nuke Laloosh once said)

I plan to enjoy the whipping we'll administer to the Cardinals on New Year's Day, mainly because we won't see our boys in action again for the better part of a year. I will miss these 2011 Seahawks, and they deserve to go into the record books as something other than 7-9 losers. 8-8 isn't great, but it sounds about right for this team as they keep climbing up a steep incline towards NFL supremacy.

Merry Christmas, Twelves! What do you think, sirs?

December 21, 2011


My football mind is somewhat bifurcated right now- Let me break down this schism:

-It would be amazing if the Seahawks made the playoffs, or even just finished 9-7... but the Hawks have already had a season we can take pride in, even if they lose the last two games. 7-9 would match last year's record, but it would come with 16 players being sent to IR (and against a much tougher schedule). This year we've seen tons of development from many young players and an unexpectedly strong performance from Tarvaris Jackson. The secondary is on the verge of becoming one of the best in football, and the team is creating an identity based on mental and physical toughness.

The vast majority of front office moves by PCJS appear to be working out so far, and the team's overall potential points to a possible 2012 playoff run, even without the "Quarterback of the Future." The team fought bravely after a 2-6 start, and can boast signature wins over the Giants, Ravens and Bears. Yes, it would suck if we lost Saturday, but it wouldn't change the fact that the future belongs to our Seahawks...

On the other side of my brainpan...

-Fuck the fucking Niners! Fuck their fans, fuck their smug, arrogant douchenozzle of a coach, fuck Patrick Willis, fuck Frank Gore, and MOTHER FUCK Alex Smith. The ONLY thing I want for Christmas is a win over these dickbags. Ever since week 1 I've wanted another shot at these jokers, and I want our boys to emphatically demonstrate that the Niners are merely renting our NFC West throne- We will be taking it back sooner than anyone outside the Twelve Army thinks possible.

The Niners fancy themselves as tough guys- They are going to find out Saturday that the Seahawks can inflict punishment too. I want to see Kam Chancellor drop Vernon Davis like a bag of fucking hammers. I want to see Chris Clemons scramble Alex Smith's mindgrapes. I want to see Frank Gore stuffed over and over and over again. I want the 49ers to limp off the field bloodied, bruised and defeated. I want their fucking fans to take the same walk of shame I had to endure after that game in Cleveland earlier this year.

I want vengance. Pure, evil, spiteful vengance.

And if we win, my most fevered, curdled, hateful dream might live on: That we sneak in the playoffs and travel down the coast to play SF again on Wild Card Weekend... and then, with an upset win we ruin all that was good and worthwhile about San Francisco's 2011 season. All they will remember is the stinging pain of a divisional rival snuffing out what they thought was going to be a "special" season. It would be magnificent- We'd speak of it in hushed, reverent tones for decades...

But I'm getting ahead of myself... Win on Saturday or you ruin my Christmas, Seahawks. Go beat these worthless sacks of crap!

What do you think sirs?

December 18, 2011

Seahawks 38, Bears 14

For grizzled veterans of the Twelve Army, the ugly first half today in Chicago followed a very familiar, very cliched script: In an important late-season road game, the Seahawks were making big mistakes, making an opposing "just a guy" QB look like a Pro Bowler, and shitting away an opportunity to "level up." Of course I thought we were still in the game, but what came next even shocked me, the King of Wishful Thinking...

In the 2nd half we came out and BEAT THE FUCKING SHIT out of the Chicago Bears. 31-0 doesn't even fully express how completely Seattle dominated the last 30 minutes of today's game- The Hawks marched downfield and shoved the tying TD down the Bears' throats on their opening possession, then followed up with a perfectly timed blitz that forced Caleb Hanie to throw a giftwrapped pick-six to Big Red Bryant. After that, Hanie evidently remembered that he sucked- His facade of 1st-half competence completely evaporated after that play.

Tarvaris Jackson made an inexcusable mistake to hand Chicago a 1st-half TD, and looked like "Bad T-Jack" from last September through the opening 30 minutes... But after the half he was magnificent, once again avoiding interceptions and making more than a few impressive throws- and a large share of the credit for that goes to Seattle's maligned but surprisingly solid offensive line. Despite missing three starters lost to IR, they didn't allow Chicago's fearsome pass rush to shut down Seattle's passing game in the 2nd half. The Bears may have succeeded in "stopping" Marshawn Lynch by holding him to just 42 yards, but Seattle's offense still put up 24 points (and Beast Mode still found the end zone twice).

Seattle's defense continues to grow more intimidating each week. Over the last 6 games, they've allowed only nine total touchdowns and scored three of their own (That's a net of averaging only one TD allowed per game over the last month and a half, yo). Today they recorded four sacks and five takeaways, erasing Chicago's entire offensive attack (Fuck You, Mike Martz). K.J. Wright, Red Bryant, and Chris Clemons had great games, but once again the story was that young Seattle secondary: Browner, Sherman, Chancellor and Thomas. It's not at all crazy to argue they are one of the NFL's best defensive backfields- By next season they might just be the best in football.

I was overstuffed with joy today as this one became an ever bigger, ever more decisive blowout. I'm so proud of how this team has fought, and I feel privileged to be able to watch them grow and improve every single week. I have NO doubt that we will win these final two games against the Niners and Cardinals to reach 9-7... Even if we don't make the playoffs, that would be an important accomplishment (our first winning season since 2007 is nothing any Twelve should dismiss).

But there is still hope- As far as I can tell, two scenarios remain that would get Seattle into the playoffs:

2 Seattle wins + 2 Detroit losses (SD, @GB)

2 Seattle wins + 2 Atlanta losses (@NO, TB) + 2 Chicago wins (@GB, @MIN)

Are our playoff chances great? Hell no. But it's not that implausible either, particularly the Lions scenario. Playoffs or not, I want to close out this mother fucker by kicking the piss out of SF and AZ.

I'm an incredibly happy Twelve today, y'all. What do you think, sirs?

December 16, 2011

Updated Seahawks Playoff Scenarios for Week 15

I just wanted to post something quick about where the Seahawks stand in the NFC playoff race after Atlanta's 41-14 win over Jacksonville last night. Tons of people that have messaged me on twitter are simply DEAD WRONG about some stuff, so here's your latest dose of reality... As usual, feel free to check my reasoning against the Official NFL Tiebreaking Scenarios, and my math against the ESPN Playoff Machine.

With the win last night, the Falcons are VERY close to clinching a playoff spot, but not quite there yet. For our purposes, we should mentally concede the 5th seed to Atlanta at this point. There are playoff scenarios for the Seahawks involving ATL (outlined below), but they are among the least probable ones. Effectively the Seahawks are competing with the Bears, Lions, Cardinals and whoever doesn't win the NFC East between the Giants and Cowboys for the last NFC playoff spot.

If the Seahawks win at Chicago this Sunday, they CANNOT be eliminated this week. If they lose and Detroit wins at Oakland, Seattle IS ELIMINATED. Clear?

Here's what people seem to not be getting: There are scenarios where Dallas' head-to-head win over the Seahawks simply DOESN'T MATTER. Those scenarios are ALL multi-team tiebreakers EXCEPT a tie involving ONLY SEA-DAL-ATL. If Detroit is added to ANY variation of a SEA-DAL tie breaker, the Seahawks win the tiebreaker and get in the playoffs. Why? Well let's look at the NFL's official tiebreaking rules:

-Head-to-head sweep. (Applicable only if one club has defeated each of the others or if one club has lost to each of the others.)
-Best won-lost-tied percentage in games played within the conference.

The first one would be relevant in a SEA-DAL-ATL tiebreaker. Since Seattle lost to both Dallas and Atlanta, they'd be knocked out in that scenario (IMPORTANT NOTE: ESPN playoff machine doesn't appear to take this one into account, but it's right there in the official NFL procedures- So beware). But if you add Detroit, who the Seahawks don't play this season, the relevant tiebreaker is conference record- If the Seahawks win out, they will have an 8-4 conference record and win that tiebreaker over Detroit, Dallas, Atlanta, and NYG. What does all this mean? I will bold the next bit...

If the Seahawks and Lions both finish 9-7, Seattle makes the playoffs. So the most direct (but not only) route to the postseason for the Seahawks is 3 wins + EXACTLY 2 Lions losses.

In that case, what NYG and Dallas both do over the last three weeks would be TOTALLY IRRELEVANT. Got it? Here are some of the other scenarios that would get Seattle in the playoffs if they win out (I'm not going to TOUCH 8-8 playoff scenarios for the Seahawks yet- I will worry about that in the event that we lose one).

3 SEA wins + 1 DET loss + 2 ATL losses + DAL wins NFC East + NYG loses EXACTLY twice
(Detroit would be 5 seed at 10-6, SEA/ATL/NYG all 9-7, SEA wins on conference record)

3 SEA wins + 3 DET losses + DAL wins NFC East
(Detroit would be 8-8, ATL would be in (at least 9-7), and possibility of a SEA-DAL tie would be eliminated)

3 SEA wins + 3 DET losses + DAL loses at least 2
(Detroit would be 8-8, ATL would be in (at least 9-7), and possibility of a SEA-DAL tie would be eliminated)

3 SEA wins + 3 DET losses + PHI wins NFC East
(VERY unlikely, but Seahawks get into the playoffs all alone at 9-7 here, because DET, NYG, DAL would ALL be 8-8)

Feel free to point out any "Seahawks at 9-7" playoff scenarios that I have missed.

What do you think, sirs?

December 14, 2011

Top 5: Seahawks Beat Bears! (UPDATED)

(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?

December 13, 2011

Seahawks 30, Rams 13

It's easy to forget this, but a year ago, the Seahawks were also 6-7 at this point. Even though the happenstance of being in the historically weak 2010 NFC West kept that team atop the division, that was a bleak time for a Seattle team in transition. They were in the middle of a stretch where they'd lose five out of six games, and had just been blown out by the 49ers. They looked like the worst kind of mixture of fading veterans and youngsters utterly out of their depth- In retrospect it's astounding that they got within 2 wins of the Super Bowl with such marrow-deep flaws.

A year later the record is the same (and the playoff probabilities much lower), but the FEELING about the team has changed immeasurably for the better. They are still flawed, and still making mistakes- but their talent, hunger, and will to win are becoming easier to see with each passing week. The contrast to the forlorn Rams, who have a small handful of promising players but almost NOTHING else to create hope for the future, is striking.

It wasn't supposed to be like this. The Seahawks were supposed to sink under the incompetent rah-rah leadership of Pete Carroll while the Rams started their decade-long reign at the top of the NFC West... as Sam Bradford became an elite quarterback slicing and dicing the hapless secondaries unfortunate enough to face him. Instead, Bradford is banged up and regressing (and has a whiff of Rick Mirer right now), and their coach is probably going to get fired. And the Seahawks? Pete Carroll is right on the verge of decisively proving all the naysayers wrong. Carroll and John Schneider are only in year two of a total rebuild, but they are constructing an intense, physical, mentally tough roster. If the Holmgren Hawks were about precision and execution, the Carroll Hawks are about BLUNT FORCE TRAUMA.

In last night's flawed performance, we still saw a Seahawks team that was able to put away an inferior opponent (something they failed to do just two weeks ago against DC). Marshawn Lynch was more effective as the game dragged on and the St. Louis defense started to get gassed- Big ups again to Tom Cable for coaching up Seattle's spare-parts offensive line. Tarvaris Jackson missed too many open targets, but he still had an efficient game, didn't throw any picks, and made a handful of REALLY impressive throws. No one had a more spectacular night than Doug Baldwin, however... The Stanford kid had a big kickoff return, blocked a punt, downed a punt inside the 5, caught a touchdown, and was Seattle's leading receiver.

Once again the Seattle secondary was a joy to observe, despite a number of flags issued against them (a few of which were at best borderline). Browner, Sherman, Chancellor and Thomas... That is a quartet I want to see snuffing opposing offenses for the next decade or so. They collectively suffocated St. Louis' air attack, and the front seven kept Steven Jackson under 100 yards (as the Hawks of done EVERY time Jackson has played against us- Ever).

The Seahawks have now won 13 out of the last 14 games against the Rams- That's satisfying, but it still hasn't quite made up for the pain of 2004. Perhaps another 10 or 12 in a row will do the trick.

Now we look forward to Chicago and another must-win game. The Bears are still dangerous, even without Cutler and Forte, and even riding a 3-game losing streak... But this is a game I truly believe the Seahawks will win. If they do, it will set up an apocalyptic Christmas Eve showdown with the 49ers at Seahawks Stadium. If the Seahawks are still in the playoff chase that day, it will be one of the most emotionally charged regular-season games we've seen in a while.

There's a lot of other things beyond Seattle's control that need to happen for the Hawks to make the playoffs- But I'd bet a few crates of Skittles that they'll win the last three and get to 9-7. I think we've reached a point where the Twelve Army has plenty of reasons to believe.

What do you think, sirs?

December 12, 2011

Fuzzy Kingdome Memories: November 28, 1988

In my 28 years as a Seahawks fan, I've been to exactly ONE Monday Night game. I was 13, and it was awesome. Here's the story...

The Seahawks and Raiders were both 6-6 going into that prime-time showdown in the Kingdome- The winner would join the 7-6 Broncos atop the AFC West going into the homestretch. Not only was it a key divisional battle, it was one against the detestable, despicable L.A. Raiders (and we were all still salty over Bo Jackson's demolition of the Seahawks, Brian Bosworth, and our collective mental health on MNF a year earlier). When my Dad got us tickets for this game, I totally spazzed out (even more than usual).

Thankfully I was a spoiled kid, so I got to skip school on that Monday so we could get to Seattle with plenty of time to spare before the 6 pm kickoff. Our seats were in the lower level, down in the end zone only a few rows from the field of play. I usually preferred sitting up higher (and I still do now), but it turned out to be a blast sitting down low for this particular dust-up.

The Kingdome was ALWAYS loud, but it was mind-scrambling that night. I vividly recall Steve Largent catching a TD right in front of me to open the scoring- It felt like he was close enough to reach out and high-five, and the crowd EXPLODED when he scored (Largent was in his next-to-last NFL season, and his numbers had declined thus far in '88- Seeing him score sent a jolt through the capacity crowd).

How loud was it? On the following drive the Raiders committed FIVE consecutive false start penalties. I screamed so long and so loud that I lost my voice, which didn't return until around Thursday. The teams traded blows throughout the first half, but the Seahawks looked like they'd go into the locker room up 21-20 after Krieg hit Paul Skansi for the 3rd of his FIVE TD passes. Then, craziness!

Tim Brown returned the kickoff 95 yards to the Seattle 3, and it looked like L.A. would certainly score- But a Bo Jackson TD was wiped out by a holding call, and then the Raiders shanked a gimme FG attempt as the half expired. In my 13-year-old head, Chris Bahr missed that kick because of the roar the Twelve Army unleashed upon him- I was delirious with joy.

Side note: I CLEARLY remember Tim Brown getting tackled and the FG miss happening right in front of me like the Largent TD, but that can't be accurate given that the teams must have switched ends between quarters- Chalk one up for the unreliability of memory, huh?

The Seahawks would commit a total of five turnovers, and enter the 4th quarter trailing 27-21. Dave Krieg's last two TD passes put Seattle up for good and they'd hold on for a memorable 35-27 victory (back in '88 there weren't 2-point conversions in the NFL, so an 8-point gap was two scores). Both John L. Williams and Curt Warner ran for over 100 yards, and the Seahawks erupted for 459 total yards. Conversely, the Seattle defense held their tormentor Bo Jackson to just 31 yards on 13 carries (Did it help that L.A. rolled out Steve Beuerlein and Jay Schroeder at QB that day? Fuck yeah- but we can just gloss over that fact).

The Seahawks won, and my Dad and I enjoyed a long but happy post-game drive back to the Tri-Cities. I showed up at school the next day sleep-deprived but triumphant in one of my many Steve Largent jerseys... The Seahawks would go on to beat the Raiders in L.A. on the season's final Sunday to take their first AFC West title (here's that whole game on youtube in two parts: Part 1 and Part 2).

I also remember us waving around this towel at that MNF game... I think I still have it in a box at my Mom's house somewhere, and I remember seeing one at the Pro Football Hall of Fame when I visited a few years back:

What do you think, sirs?

Seahawks Playoff Scenarios/Brief Thoughts on Tim Tebow

Here's where the Seahawks stand in the NFC playoff race going into tonight's game against the St. Louis Rams- Feel free to check my reasoning against the NFL tie-breaking procedures and my math against the ESPN playoff machine...

First, the current standings of the NFC Wild Card division, with the remaining opponents for each team in parentheses.

5. Falcons 8-5 (JAX, @NO, TB)
6. Lions 8-5 (@OAK, SD, @GB)
7. Bears 7-6 (SEA, @GB, @MIN)
8. Giants 7-6 (DC, "@"NYJ, DAL)
9. Cowboys 7-6 (@TB, PHI, @NYG)
10. Cardinals 6-7 (CLE, @CIN, SEA)
11. Seahawks 5-7 (STL, @CHI, SF, @AZ)

Those standings make things look worse than they actually are- After Seattle wins tonight, they will pass Arizona... and either the Cowboys or Giants will win the NFC East. Then, Seattle wins over the Rams and Bears would push them past Chicago as well. So let's get down to it- What will get the Seahawks into the playoffs? Let's start with a few basic principles:

1. Everything I say from here on assumes that the Seahawks will win out. They can theoretically stay alive with one loss, but the probabilities really drop off the cliff in that case.

2. If the Seahawks finish 9-7, they'd have an 8-4 conference record (our 1-3 record against the AFC North sorta helps here). That is good enough to win (almost) every tie-breaker involving 3 or more teams.

3. The Seahawks would win one-on-one/head-to-head tiebreakers with the Lions, Giants, and Bears (assuming we beat them Dec. 18). Seattle LOSES one-on-one/head-to-head tiebreakers with the Cowboys and Falcons. In a specific 3-way tiebreaker with ONLY the Cowboys and Falcons, the Seahawks lose.

4. In ANY and ALL tiebreaking scenarios that involve the Seahawks AND Lions, the Seahawks win, and get in the playoffs. Why? We'd have a better conference record than the Lions, and if Detroit is involved it eliminates the possibility of Seattle getting knocked out due to head-to-head losses to Dallas and Atlanta.

5. Over in the NFC East, one team will win the division (and thus we won't have to worry about them), and the other will have AT LEAST 7 losses. The only thing we have to worry about here are the "head-to-head with Dallas" and "3-way-tie with Dallas and Atlanta" scenarios.

Distill all that down, and the SIMPLEST playoff scenario for the Seahawks is:

4 Seahawks wins + EXACTLY 2 Lions losses = Seattle makes the playoffs.

There are more complex scenarios involving lots of Atlanta and Dallas losses, but our most direct path to the playoffs is via Detroit.

A few brief words about Tim Tebow to conclude here...

First of all, thanks for beating the Bears, kid! Last week I said I'd "Tebow" if the Broncos won, and as the above pic shows I'm a man of my word.

Beyond that, I'll never be a Tebow fan unless he somehow ends up on the Seahawks. In that case, as long as he won games I could put up with his aggravating disciples, the endless hype, and his religious proselytizing. I'm a hell-bound, blasphemous unbeliever and a Seahawks fan- Why WOULD I root for a openly, deeply religious Broncos QB? I'd have to be lobotomized.

I will admit that I can see why his teammates would run through a wall for the guy- He does have those intangible leadership qualities. He is also great for the league right now... Every Broncos game is absolutely "Must-See TV" at this point (and I think NBC should have fought harder to flex Broncos v Patriots into prime time next week.. I would have been glued to that).

So yeah, I'll probably never be a fan of Tebow- and I still think what he's doing right now is ultimately unsustainable. But I'm riveted to this drama surrounding him just like everyone else.

What do you think, sirs?

December 8, 2011

Doors Unlocked and Open

Playoff talk around the Seahawks has started up again, but almost everyone is very careful to declare upfront that there is almost no chance of Seattle actually reaching the postseason. In fact, it seems like it's almost a badge of "seriousness" to dismiss the Seahawks' playoff chances with an eye roll and a wanking motion.

But I'm not serious. I'm not realistic. I'm not rational. Not when it comes to the Seahawks. Hell, two years ago I wrote about how the 2009 team could still make the playoffs at 5-7. How fucking STUPID does that article look, in light of the MoraHawks subsequent "December of Surrender" that landed them at 5-11?

I understand how most normal human sports fans operate. Expecting the worst allows you to build up your mental defenses and inoculate yourself from the pain that every sports fan has to endure. It's the natural tendency of most fans to drift away when their team is bad, and let the currents of winning bring them back to shore. For a mentally healthy person, it makes sense to not get too emotionally invested in a team with a 7.2% chance of making the playoffs.

What I have learned over 28 years of being a Seahawks fan is that I am NOT sane or normal in any of the accepted meanings of those terms. I've learned that I'd much rather be seen as the hardest of the hard-core (who sucks at predicting the football future) than a steely-eyed "realist." I'd rather be foolishly loyal and optimistic than distant and cynical. I'd rather deal with the pain of dashed hopes (over and over and OVER again) than the gnawing sense that I abandoned the Seahawks when the going got too tough.

I know there are other fans whose ONLY measure of success is a Super Bowl victory. As much as I fervently dream about the day Seattle wins a Lombardi Trophy, it can't be the only reason I root for the Hawks- What kind of torture would that be? How desolate would it be to inhabit a world where nothing the Seahawks have done matters, because they've never won a World Championship? Yes, winning is tremendously important and the ultimate goal is to become champions- but I'm also interested in the journey... in the experiences and memories created in that quest to reach the pinnacle of the game, even when that quest fails.

My favorite Seahawks season was 2005, but right behind it is 1986... a year when the Seahawks didn't even make the playoffs! Despite falling short of postseason on the season's final Sunday, the Hawks gave us Twelves five weeks of football that are burned in our memories as much as Top Gun, Family Ties, Bill Buckner or Licensed to Ill.. Here's that season's highlight film:

I am still invested so heavily in part because of the small chance I might get to see something like 1986 again- I also feed off the knowledge that LESS THAN A YEAR AGO the Seahawks shanked all the naysayers with the biggest upset in NFL playoff history. Why can't they pull off another crazy, immortally awesome finish again?

Who is down here in this ocean of sound with me?

December 5, 2011

Patience, Seahawks... Climb the Ladder.

After an almost unfathomably favorable Sunday of NFL results, the Seahawks are now two games out of the final NFC Wild Card spot with four games to play. Seattle's playoff probabilities have risen up to 6.5%, which doesn't sound high, but it's risen up from 1.3% just two weeks ago. The Seahawks wouldn't be MATHEMATICALLY eliminated by a single loss during this final month, but realistically Seattle needs to go 4-0 to keep their playoff hopes viable.

The best way to look at things now? The Seahawks are now playing in the "NFC WILD CARD DIVISION," and these are the current standings

Bears 7-5
Falcons 7-5
Lions 7-5
Giants 6-6
Seahawks 5-7
Cardinals 5-7

It's important to remember that the Seahawks only need to finish 2nd in this division to make the playoffs, NOT 1st. It's very plausible for the Seahawks to climb into 3rd in this division if they can beat the Rams and Bears over the next two weeks. Thanks to the magic of the ESPN Playoff Machine, we know that if the Seahawks end up in a multi-team tiebreaker at 9-7, they will almost certainly get into the postseason (based on having the best conference record).

There's another bit of drama going on too, though- Seattle will (thankfully) not be crappy enough to be in position to draft Andrew Luck or Matt Barkley (if he declares for the draft). That doesn't mean that we won't (or shouldn't) try to make a trade to acquire Barkley (I don't see the Colts parting with the #1 pick under any circumstances). Our best shot at completing a trade into the #2 slot to take Barkley? If the team picking 2nd is an non-divisional rival who very recently spent a 1st-rounder on a QB. Thus, it follows that we should root for the Minnesota Vikings (or the Jacksonville Jaguars) to "beat" the St. Louis Rams for the #2 pick in the draft.

With all this in mind, here's who you should be rooting for in next week's games, and why...


-Broncos over Bears: I'm not really digging having to root for Tebow, but if the Broncos cooperate here we can pull ahead of Chicago in the Wild Card Division with wins in our next two games. Get your Tebowing poses ready!

-Panthers over Falcons: Yes, Carolina is 4-8, but they are at home and they have played a number of quality teams very tough this season. If Cam Newton and the Panthers can pull off this upset, the Seahawks' playoff chances will spike unexpectedly.

-Buccaneers over Jaguars: Jacksonville could be a perfect Matt Barkley trade partner for the Seahawks- IF they end up holding the #2 pick in the draft. Root for a loss to Tampa this week.

-Packers over Raiders: Stick with me here- Green Bay plays Chicago and Detroit over the final two weekends. I believe that if they are still going for a perfect season, they will play to win. If not? After they have the #1 seed clinched, they might rest guys. Root for Rodgers and the Pack to go 16-0. Also, fuck the fucking Raiders.


-Vikings at Lions: On one hand, if the Vikings upset the Lions, that gives a big boost to Seattle's 2011 playoff chances. However, that would fuck up my little "Minnesota trades the #2 pick to us, then... BOOM! Matt Barkley!" plan. I prefer to look at this as being good news for us either way.

-Giants at Cowboys: Dallas winning would give them a big NFC East lead, and frankly we want the Cowboys to win this division- While Seattle wins the head-to-head tiebreaker with NYG, we lose it to Dallas. The Giants would fall to 6-7 and into a tie with Seattle after next Monday Night. One could argue that an NYG win could be good news too (both DAL and NYG would be 7-6), but I'll be rooting for the Cowboys to put away Big Blue Sunday Night.

-49ers at Cardinals: A Cardinals loss effectively eliminates them, but so would/will a loss to Seattle in week 17. A Cardinals win would push them further away from possibly holding the #2 pick (which they then wouldn't trade to the Seahawks). I'll be weakly rooting for the Niners, given that we can't win the West, and the sooner Arizona's hopes are dashed, the better.

What do you think, sirs? Am I missing anything big?

December 1, 2011

Seahawks 31, Eagles 14

Every talking head on NFL Network's pre-game show picked Philadelphia to defeat the Seahawks tonight, obviously still high on "Dream Team" fumes and ignorant of the progress made by the league's youngest starting line-up in recent weeks.

If they had been paying attention, they would have seen that aside from a youth-induced spasm of 3rd-down breakdowns in the 4th quarter last week, these Seahawks have been crafting an identity as a physical, hard-hitting, punch-you-in-the-fuckin'-mouth crew. Marshawn Lynch's electrifying, punishing 1st-quarter touchdown set the tone- We were going to maul Philly, and they were going to crumble. Lynch gobbled up 148 yards and a shit-ton of Skittles in his best performance of the season so far.

Tarvaris Jackson held onto the ball a bit too long a few times, but he avoided turnovers and posted a QB rating of 137.0! Golden Tate hauled in a spectacular touchdown catch and continued the positive development we've seen lately- Tate has a chance to break through to the next level with the additional reps he'll see with Sidney Rice on IR. The offensive line continued its run of solid play, but now the concern is an injury to Russell Okung on a cheap-shot from Trent Cole in garbage time. What a pathetic mother fucker. But then again, the whole Philadelphia squad played like pathetic mother fuckers tonight.

Seattle's defense atoned (to some degree) for last week's 4th-quarter implosion by snatching four Vince Young interceptions, including David Hawthorne's victory-sealing pick-6. Kam Chancellor picked off Young on Philly's 1st snap, and Brandon Browner hauled in two more interceptions. It was an impressive display from the youngest secondary in football.

After the game was over, those same dismissive NFL Network bobbleheads were talking about how Seattle is the "best 5-7 team" in the league, and was heading in the right direction- At least they are correct about that, belatedly. Those losses to Cleveland and DC sting more than ever now, but it's stupid to dwell on that shit. Today the Seahawks' long-shot playoff dreams get to live another week, but more importantly the longer-term future of the franchise looks promising.

I believe in Pete Carroll and the team he is putting together- They'll win multiple games over the last month of this season, and might just jump up and take a huge bite out of the Bears or Niners. Enjoy the ascent, Twelves!

What do you think, sirs?