April 14, 2013

Seahawks v Vikings: Revisiting a Sordid History

A few years back, I wrote a brief piece about the budding rivalry between the Seahawks and Vikings. With our recent acquisitions of ex-Vikes like Sidney Rice, Percy Harvin, and Antoine Winfield, I decided that it's time to revisit the surprisingly nasty history between these two franchises. Here's some of the gory details:

1987: Ahh, the strike year. The Vikings visited Seattle for a key early November matchup, and much of the pre-game talk was about how the "real" Vikings came into the game undefeated, but the team's overall record was only 3-3 because Minnesota's replacement players were putrid even by the low standards applied to those scab games. The Seahawks were 4-2, based in part on the 2-1 record posted by the SeaScabs. Seattle showed they weren't frauds that day- Behind three Dave Krieg TD passes and 132 all-purpose yards from Curt Warner the Hawks ground out a crucial 28-17 victory. Both teams would make the playoffs, with Seattle falling at Houston in OT in the AFC Wild Card game, and Minnesota ending up a 4th-and-goal away from XXII in a heartbreaking NFC Championship game loss at DC.

1997: After an injury-shortened and ineffective 1996 campaign, the Vikings cast aside veteran QB Warren Moon in favor of Brad Johnson. Minnesota got solid play from Johnson, but as soon as Warren Moon took over for an injured John Friesz in Seattle he showed the Vikings (and the rest of the NFL) that his Hall-of-Fame arm still had some juice left. Moon would be named to the Pro Bowl after throwing for 3600 yards and 25 TDs in only 14 starts. In one memorable win over Oakland, Moon torched the Raiders for 400 yards and five TD strikes. Not too shabby for a 41-year-old QB, huh?

2001: Future Hall-of-Famer John Randle bolted for Seattle via free agency, and he'd be a key contributor over his three Seahawk seasons, reaching the Pro Bowl in 2001 and racking up 23.5 sacks in 35 Seattle starts. The Vikings would find a roundabout way to fatally wound the 2001 Seahawks, though. On the final weekend of the season, Seattle needed a win against the Chiefs (which they got) AND a loss by the Jets OR the Ravens. The Jets pulled out a win at Oakland with a last-second field goal, making Twelves wait until Monday night to see if the Vikings could upset the Ravens. Unfortunately, Minnesota's QB that night wasn't Moon or Johnson or Cunningham or even Jeff George... It was Spergon Wynn, and the Ravens defense predictably destroyed him AND the Seahawks' faint playoff hopes.

2002: The Seahawks were off to a miserable 0-3 start, and the desperately needed some kind of spark going into the first national showcase for Seahawks Stadium: An appearance on Sunday Night Football. Thankfully their opponents that night were the 0-3 Vikings, and the football-watching nation was treated to a historic performance by Shaun Alexander, who scored five first-half touchdowns on his way to a 221-yard rushing/receiving day. The Hawks would lead 45-10 by halftime and cruise to a 48-23 victory.

2004:  The only truly, unabashedly joyous moment of 2004 came when the Seahawks pulled off a huge, season-saving upset in Minnesota. Darrell Jackson, playing only hours after his father's death, had the best game of his career, and Michael Boulware intercepted a Randy Moss pass (WTF?) in the final minutes to seal a shocking 27-23 win.

2006: First, there was the Steve Hutchinson "poison pill" fiasco, where the unfathomable miscalculations of Tim Ruskell opened the door for the Vikings to concoct a clause in their offer sheet that made it impossible for the Seahawks to match Minnesota's offer to the All-Pro guard. The Seahawks retaliated by luring WR Nate Burleson away from the Vikings with a similar tactic. Then there was the game played between the two teams that October- Not only did Seattle lose the game 31-13, but E.J. Henderson dived at Matt Hasselbeck's knees and knocked him out of action for a month, and even when Hasselbeck returned to action he wasn't close to 100%. I'm still convinced that without that dirty hit, the Seahawks would have reached Super Bowl XLI that season.

2009: The bidding war for T.J. Houshmandzadeh came down to Seattle and Minnesota, and the former Bengals wideout picked the Seahawks. In retrospect, this was probably a win for Minnesota. After a single fairly disappointing season in Seattle, Housh was a late-offseason cut by Pete Carroll in his first season as Seattle's head coach.

2011: The Vikings allowed Pro Bowl wideout Sidney Rice to bolt out to Seattle. While Rice hasn't matched his stellar 2009 numbers with the Seahawks thus far, his solid, injury-free 2012 campaign showed that he can still be a dangerous weapon, particularly with Russell Wilson under center and other targets like Tate, Baldwin, Harvin and Zach Miller giving him favorable match-ups.

2012: Minnesota visits Seattle, and despite 182 yards from NFL MVP Adrian Peterson, the Seahawks outslugged the Vikings for a 30-20 victory. Minnesota also lost Percy Harvin to a broken ankle in the loss, dealing a serious blow to their Super Bowl hopes.

2013: A now-healthy Harvin demanded a trade out of Minnesota, and the Seahawks sent a first-rounder (and more) to the Vikings in exchange for one of the NFL's most dangerous weapons. Just a few days ago, former Pro Bowl defensive back Antoine Winfield turned down $3 million guaranteed from Minnesota to join the Seahawks for significantly less guaranteed money. The reason? He feels like he has a much better shot winning a championship this season with the Seahawks.

The Vikings visit Seattle at some point this season. That one should be fun, huh? What do y'all think? Do we have a real rivalry with Minnesota at this point?

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