December 12, 2013

Top 5: Seahawks Beat Giants!

For two non-divisional rivals separated by 2800 miles, the Seahawks and Giants share a surprisingly rich history, including arguably the most memorable regular season victory in Seattle franchise lore. The next chapter will be written at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey this Sunday, where the Seahawks hope to move one step closer to securing the NFC's top seed against a 5-8 Giants team limping toward the end of another disappointing campaign.

Side note: Does any Coach/QB combo share a stranger legacy than Tom Coughlin and Eli Manning? "Leading The Two Worst Super Bowl Winners Of All Time" is a decidedly odd thing to have on one's resume, but that's what Coughlin and Manning can boast of. Aside from those playoff hot streaks in 2007 and 2011, they're 0-3 in the playoffs. Without those two Super Bowl wins, Coughlin's career looks like Dennis Green's in terms of winning percentage (Coughlin has a lower career winning percentage than Chuck Knox, Mike Holmgren AND Pete Carroll, by the way). Without those rings, Eli's career is most similar to luminaries such as Carson Palmer and Chad Pennington.

Obviously, I'd commit atrocities on a Walter White/Jesse Pinkman level just to experience the Seahawks winning a single Championship, but I think Coughlin and Manning illustrate the fallacy of putting too much weight on Super Bowl wins when judging a the career of a player or coach. Is Eli a better quarterback than his brother Peyton because he has one more Super Bowl ring? No way. Is he better than ringless QBs like Dan Marino, Warren Moon, or Dan Fouts? Fuck no! Is Coughlin a better coach than Bud Grant or Don Coryell? Once again, nope.

Anyway, I expect the Hawks to cruise to a relatively easy victory this Sunday. 27-10 sounds about right, and it will be just the first of two wins in that stadium for the Seahawks this season. Sunday will be the 16th meeting between these teams, and while Seattle has only won six of the first 15 dust-ups with NYG, these five were particularly memorable. Enjoy!

5. September 24, 2006: Seahawks 42, Giants 30
When does a 12-point victory over a formidable playoff  team from the previous season feel almost like a defeat? When you run out to a 42-3 lead, but then allow a handful of garbage-time TDs that spook a fanbase with too-fresh memories of multiple 4th-quarter collapses in 2003-2004. Matt Hasselbeck fired a career-high five touchdown passes, including two to Darrell Jackson, and it was 35-0 before the 1st half ended. The Seahawks were never in any REAL danger of losing this game, but traumatized Twelves were afflicted with flashbacks of 2004 the entire 4th quarter. It was a strikingly unsatisfying victory.

4. October 9, 2011: Seahawks 36 @ Giants 25
The Seahawks rolled into MetLife Stadium as 10-point underdogs to the eventual World Champion Giants, but stunned the football world with a victory so shocking it elicited this reaction at one Las Vegas Sports Book:

"No Joke" indeed. Here's some of what I wrote at the time (and it turned out to be somewhat prophetic): 

They overcame a hostile crowd, a talented NFC East opponent, and multiple key injuries. The winning touchdown drive was led by a much-maligned back-up Quarterback (Charlie Whitehurst) who threw that winning TD to an undrafted free agent (Doug Baldwin).

More than all that, Seattle overcame DECADES of "Same old Seahawks" mental conditioning- How many Seahawks teams have played well on the road in a first half, only to squander multiple opportunities to put a vulnerable foe away, and wilt in a 2nd half? How many times have we seen a miracle play like that Victor Cruz TD catch early in the 4th break the will of previous Seahawks teams? I am sure MILLIONS of Seahawks fans thought at that point: "Well, game over- Guess the football gods just hate us." 

We found out today that when it comes to the "football gods," these Seahawks are Richard Dawkins-level Atheists. They are playing football unbound to expectations, unchained from history. Pete Carroll has torn down the crumbling edifice that was rotting when he arrived, and now we can start to see what he is building in its place: Something beautiful and fearsome- Something designed to endure and excel.

Nothing the Giants threw at the Hawks broke their fighting spirit, and that is the BIGGEST culture shift we've seen since Carroll's arrival. T-Jack gets injured? Whitehurst wobbles, but eventually leads the team to victory. Eli Manning throws for 420 yards? The defense neutralizes that by forcing him into FOUR turnovers. Marshawn Lynch fumbles in the red zone? He bounces back with a TD and 98 yards on only 12 carries. We are seeing this team take developmental LEAPS every week, and it's a delirious joy to behold. 

Your Seahawks aren't just "rebuilding," my fellow Twelves- Right now, TODAY, they are a dangerous team learning how to be lethal. Enjoy this, my friends. Enjoy it.

As a bonus, here's a video taken by a Twelve of Brandon Browner's win-sealing Pick-Six:

The 7-7 Seahawks were facing elimination from the AFC playoff race in the Meadowlands against a limp Giants squad that had only won once since September. Despite the East Coast venue and the 10 am Pacific Time kickoff (uh-oh), New York was so awful that Seattle came into the game as slight favorites. The Seahawks were out-gained by the Giants 440-183 (!), but the defense forced FIVE NYG turnovers (Seattle would be #2 in the NFL in 1983 in turnover differential), including interceptions by Dave Brown and Keith Simpson. Dave Krieg's pair of 1st-half TD passes to Steve Largent and Paul Johns provided enough cushion for Seattle to escape with a win and set up a winner-take-all showdown with New England for the AFC's final Wild Card spot (The Seahawks took all, by the way). 

The 1986 Seahawks are the biggest "what might have been" story in franchise history. They were the only team in the league to beat both Conference Champions that season. They finished the year with a 10-6 record and as the hottest, most dominant team in the AFC... only to miss the playoffs on a tiebreaker. Sigh.

One of those wins over a conference champ came in a classic blood-pisser at the Kingdome. The Giants outgained the Seahawks (again), but Seattle decisively won the turnover battle (again). Four Phil Simms interceptions (and seven Seattle sacks) sunk the Giants that day, and touchdowns from Curt Warner and Gordon Hudson (Yeah, I know- I had to look him up. His TD catch that day from Dave Krieg was the only score of his brief NFL career) were enough to secure a hard-fought victory. The win left both teams at 5-2. The Giants wouldn't lose again on their way to a Super Bowl XXI win. The Seahawks responded with a four-game losing streak that would ultimately keep them out of the playoffs. Shit. Well, we can still imagine what a Pasadena rematch might have looked like, right? 

There are two things people remember about this game: Jay Feeley missed three game-winning kicks (allowing Jeremy Shockey to give us perhaps the best premature celebration of all time) and the Twelve Army forced ELEVEN New York false starts with its incessant roar (WOW!). Here are some other things we should all remember about this game: 

-Joe Jurevicius was a BAWSE. Eight catches, 137 yards, and two touchdowns. Has any player who was only a Seahawk for a single season ever had a bigger impact than JJ had in 2005? TEN touchdowns on only 55 catches, and he was our 2nd leading receiver after Booby Engram. He left us as a free agent for Cleveland in 2006, where his career ended prematurely due to a staph infection. Ewww. Poor bastad. 

-Shaun Alexander capped a 31-carry, 110-yard day with what looked like the game-winning touchdown late in the 4th quarter. The Hawks led 14-13, and faced a 4th and 1 from NYG's four yard-line with only four minutes remaining. The usually conservative Mike Holmgren decided to go for it rather than kick a short field goal, and Alexander rewarded The Big Show by punching it in and giving Seattle an 8-point lead. Since the defense allowed the Giants to promptly march downfield and tie the game, Holmgren's gamble saved the day. 

-Even after three Jay Feeley misses, it felt like the best Seattle could hope for was a rather embarrassing tie, not a victory. After the third installment of Feeley's "Shank Trilogy," the Hawks fell into a 2nd and 21 situation after an intentional grounding call on Matt Hasselbeck. Groan. It looked like we'd hand the ball back to the Giants yet again. 

Then D.J. Hackett made the play that kept the Seahawks on track for Super Bowl XL, beating Gibril Wilson and hauling in a 38-yard bomb from Hass that set Seattle up on the fringe of field goal range. Four consecutive Shaun Alexander carries for 19 yards set up a 36-yard game-winning attempt for Josh Brown, and his kick was true. 

-This game is significant for two reasons. First, if the Seahawks lost that day, they very well may have squandered the NFC's number one seed to the Giants or the Bears. Secondly, it was the coming-out party for a new generation of Twelves. Coach Holmgren gave the game ball to the "12th Man," and their rattling of the Giants' collective psyche proved that it wasn't just the Kingdome that gave the Seahawks a distinct home-field advantage- Twelves are just fucking lunatics (and yeah, it didn't hurt that Seahawks Stadium was designed in part to be the loudest outdoor venue in the NFL, either).

What do you think, sirs? 

1 comment:

Jolene Powell said...

If your #1 wasn't #1, I would have set you straight. I was at that game. CRAZY INSANE!!!