Quick: Which NFL team do you hate the most? Most of you probably just blurted out "The Niners!" (Yeah, I still fucking detest the Steelers too, but we don't have to play those fuckers twice a year.) The funny thing is that 6 years ago, you would have said "The Rams!" 20 years ago, you would have said "The Broncos!" NFL feuds wax and wane over time, and as we stand on the verge of Seahawks v Niners exploding into one of the NFL's nastiest running battles, I wanted to look back at the five most intense rivalries in team history.
I'm also going to focus in on the most intense periods in these rivalries, instead of just saying "Broncos" or "Rams." Enjoy!
5. Kansas City Chiefs (1983-1990)
Seahawks record during this period: 8-8
High Point: 11/11/90 Seahawks 17 @ Chiefs 16
Low Point: 12/27/87 Chiefs 41, Seahawks 20
The Seahawks' historical struggles at Arrowhead are well known, but at least during this 8-year stretch Seattle went 7-1 in the Kingdome against KC. That lone win at Arrowhead? That was Krieg-to-Skansi, y'all. Outside of this 8-year stretch, Seattle's all-time record against the Chiefs is a putrid 10-24.
Another high point? The 45-0 demolition of the Chiefs in the Dome back in 1984, highlighted by FOUR interception returns for touchdowns by a Seahawks defense at the peak of their skills. The losses, particularly at Arrowhead, were gut-punches though- A late loss in '84 helped deny Seattle the AFC West title and a 1st-round bye, and in 1987's regular season finale the Hawks lost the game, home field for the Wild Card round, and Curt Warner for the playoff game at Houston.Ugh.
4. San Francisco 49ers (2006-2011)
Seahawks record during this period: 5-7
High Point: 9/12/10 Seahawks 31, 49ers 6
Low Point: 12/12/10 49ers 40, Seahawks 21
With this rivalry primed to climb to the top of this list over the upcoming seasons, it's easy to forget how laughably pathetic the Niners were from 2003-2005. The Seahawks beat them 6 consecutive times during that span, and 3 of those wins were complete wipe-outs. 2006 saw SF sweep the Seahawks, including a humiliating defeat on Thursday Night Football in a Qwest Field monsoon. Finally, a real rivalry would develop.
Year after year, the experts picked the Niners to finally rise to the top of the NFC West, but just as consistently the Seahawks would crush those dreams with an unexpected victory. In 2007 we got to see Rocky Bernard squish Alex Smith in an upset Seattle win at Candlestick, but 2010's Kickoff Weekend whipping of Singletary's minions at Qwest was more stunning and thus even sweeter. Later that season Seattle would get absolutely dominated at SF, however (the 40-21 final score didn't capture the totality of our collapse).
Last year the Niners finally won the division, and barely beat Seattle in a brutal late-season dust up at Seahawks Stadium- I expect future match-ups in 2012 and beyond to be even more intense. We've reached the point where the coaches, players, and fans on both sides truly HATE their opposite numbers. This'll be fun.
3. St. Louis Rams (2003-2006)
Seahawks record during this period: 5-4
High Point: 10/15/06 Seahawks 30 @ Rams 28
Low Point: 10/10/04 Rams 33 @ Seahawks 27 (OT)
Few NFL teams hold a hammerlock over an opponent anywhere near Seattle's global dominance of the Rams. Since 2005 the Seahawks are 13-1 against those Midwestern Dome-dwelling mole people, but in the early days of the new NFC West the Rams TORTURED the Twelve Army... As I wrote in this space before:
You younger fans may not really understand the depth of our hatred of the guys from St. Louis back then- A huge part of that animosity came from the fact that the Rams adopted the smug arrogance of their head coach: The detestable, face-punchable Mike Martz. It wasn't just that the Rams had recently been to and won Super Bowls. It wasn't that they had beaten up on us that badly (from 2000-2003 Seattle was 2-3 against the Rams- They weren't getting dominated). They were on top, and they were PRICKS about it, all but gleefully smelling their own farts. It was maddening.
Then there was the mind-melting collapse in October 2004...
For 54 minutes, the Seahawks dominated St. Louis. They led 27-10. Shaun Alexander shredded the Rams defense for 150 yards and the defense forced three Marc Bulger interceptions. Then, it was like a switch got flipped- Seattle's offense became a 3-and-out machine, and the defense absolutely could not stop St. Louis' air attack. 27-10 became 27-17, 27-24 and then 27-27 before millions of stunned Twelves could comprehend what was happening. In overtime, Shaun McDonald hauled in a 52-yard Bulger TD and the implosion was complete. My reaction was more like a panic attack than anything else. I was 29 years old, and decades removed from crying after Seahawks losses- But I simply collapsed into sobs after that game, into a deep, inescapable despair.
The Seahawks would go on to lose the 2004 Wild Card game to the Rams at home- Thankfully that was the end of STL's psychological grip over the Seahawks, and 7 years of Seattle oppression has almost completely erased this rivalry.
2. Los Angeles Raiders (1983-1990)
Seahawks record during this period: 11-7
High Point: 12/22/84 Seahawks 13, Raiders 7
Low Point: 11/30/87 Raiders 37 @ Seahawks 14
If you say "Seahawks v Raiders" to your average non-aligned NFL fan, the first thing they'll think of is "Bo Jackson!" Yeah, Bo knew how to theatrically kick our asses on National TV, but that was just one thread in one of the most intense NFL rivalries of the 1980s- and overall, the Seahawks got the better of the Raiders.
I was a young Soldier of Twelve back then, and I DESPISED the Raiders. I had a "Raider Busters" t-shirt and I even had that parody song on a 45 back then. My hatred was born in the 1983 AFC Championship Game, when Tom Flores, Jim Plunkett and the rest of those Silver-and-Black assholes crushed my youthful Super Bowl dreams. How big was this rivalry then? ABC put a Seahawks v Raiders game on Monday Night Football FOUR times in the 1980s. When Seattle played L.A., something memorable was bound to happen. In 1984, 1986 and 1988 the Hawks won the MNF showcase (and the '88 game is still the only MNF game I've ever attended)- But all anyone outside South Alaska remembers is that fucking Bo Jackson rampage from '87.
Seattle would go down to L.A. in the 1988 season finale and clinch the AFC West with a stirring 43-37 victory, but "Peak Seahawks" for this rivalry was the 1984 AFC Wild Card game.. As I wrote before:
The Seahawks entered the 1984 playoffs on a two-game losing streak, and the national media gave the fading Hawks little chance to knock off the Defending World Champion Raiders. The greatest defense in team history had its finest hour in that Wild Card game, though... Easley, Green, Nash, Brown, Bryant and the rest held L.A. to a single touchdown while sacking Plunkett 6 times and forcing three turnovers. Knox called 51(!) running plays, and Dr. Dan Doornink put up Curt Warner numbers: 29 carries, 126 yards and a key 3rd-down conversion late in the game. In all, the Seahawks rushed for 205 yards as a team and took complete control of the game. This is still probably the most physically dominant win in team history.
1. Denver Broncos (1984-1998)
Seahawks record during this period: 10-20
High Point: 12/10/95 Seahawks 31 @ Broncos 27
Low Point: 12/15/84 Broncos 31 @ Seahawks 14
The astute reader may notice that this rivalry exactly corresponds with John Elway's 15-year run as Denver's franchise quarterback. No single player has inflicted as much suffering upon Seahawks fans as John Elway did. No player has thrown for more touchdowns or more yards against the Seahawks than Elway did. No quarterback has beaten the Seahawks as many times as Elway did. In Denver, he was (and is) a Demi-God. In Seattle, he was Mr. Ed. We longed for his destruction so badly we embraced Brian Bosworth simply for standing up to (and late-hitting) our Orange Tormentor.
In addition to the mountain of defeats Elway laid upon us, the WAY he often beat us enraged us even more- He had a knack for wriggling away when we KNEW he was getting sacked. Instead of going down, he'd find an open man down field or scramble for a first down. God I hated that magnificent, horse-faced bastard.
There are SO many low points to choose from here, but the lowest was a 31-14 Kingdome defeat on the final Sunday of the 1984 regular season that cost Seattle the AFC West title and a First-Round bye. I've talked about the unexpected high point from 1995 before:
The mid 90s are mostly a grey blur of mediocrity, but this one stands out... bolded, italic, underlined. Not only was it another Seattle win that kept Denver out of the playoffs, but it was the greatest comeback in team history, against our most despicable rivals and chief tormentor. I was going to Western at the time, and living in the Fairhaven dorms. It was final exam time, and instead of cramming I was glued to the Hawks/Broncos throwdown. As the game went on, my textbooks started to look more appealing than witnessing another Elway-administered beatdown. Denver led 20-0 at one point, and even after a Peterson FG, it was 20-3 at the half. Denver was deep in Seattle territory early in the 3rd, about to make it 27-3. The Hawks gambled on D, sending Robert Blackmon on a safety blitz. Blackmon obliterated Mr. Ed and Antonio Edwards scooped up the fumble and rambled 83 yards for a TD that completely shifted the momentum. I leaned out my dorm window and brayed like a farm animal after that one... Seattle still trailed 27-17 in the 4th, but rallied for two late touchdowns, leading to more out-the-dorm-window screaming.
What do you think, sirs? Am I leaving anything important out? Have your own rivalry memories to share?