January 22, 2015

Debasers and Negative Creeps: A Rivalry in 16 Parts

For the second year in a row, both #1 seeds have reached the Super Bowl (and it was also probably the modal preseason Super Bowl prediction, just like Seattle v Denver was last season). Right now the Seahawks v Patriots XLIX matchup is considered a toss-up, which is fitting because the two teams have split their previous 16 meetings right down the middle. Let's take a look back at 30+ years of the "Interstate 90" rivalry (It's just a 3,041 mile/42 hour drive)...

BONUS GAME! 12/7/08: Patriots 24 @ Seahawks 21
The 2008 Seahawks were an awful team, but they didn't lay down and die like their 2009 Mora-"led" successors. Facing a Patriots team fighting for the playoffs (and in the middle of an 8-game winning streak), Seattle held leads of 14-3 and 21-13. Seneca Wallace had the best game of his career, throwing three touchdowns and no interceptions. Marcus Trufant shut down a still-All-Pro Randy Moss, but it wasn't enough. Matt Cassel led New England to the winning score late in the 4th, and Holmgren's farewell tour/death march continued unabated- But at least we put a scare into the Bostonians.

8. 9/20/92 Seahawks 10 @ Patriots 6
Yay! The Seahawks won!

(3 months and 12 horrific losses later)

Shit! Why'd we win that game? We lost our shot to draft Drew Bledsoe!


Chris Warren racked up 122 yards and scored Seattle's lone TD. Cortez Kennedy sacked Hugh Millen three times and started building his resume for Defensive Player of The Year.

7. 9/24/89 Seahawks 24 @ Patriots 3
As late as 1989, box scores for Seattle were still filled with names like Krieg, Warner, Nash, and Green. Dave Krieg fired three touchdown passes (including one to John L. Williams, who stacked up 135 all-purpose yards), Jacob Green, Joe Nash and Rufus Porter all sacked Tony Eason... Wait. Did this game actually happen in 1986?

6. 10/7/90 Seahawks 33 @ Patriots 20
Fun fact: The Seahawks played six games at Foxboro from 1986 to 1993 (Huh?) and won five of them. This one was nothing to brag about, as the Patriots would eventually limp to a 1-15 record. John L. Williams was the offensive standout again, with 108 total yards. Derrick Fenner chipped in 77 yards and two touchdowns and Green and Porter sacked Marc Wilson (the next man up in a sad succession of pre-Bledsoe Patriots quarterbacks).

5. 9/19/93 Seahawks 17 @ Patriots 14
4.10/24/93 Seahawks 10, Patriots 9
I have no idea why we played a non-divisional foe twice in the 1993 regular season. Was that a common practice then? Did I just blank on this? 1993 was also one of those weird-ass seasons where everyone had TWO bye weeks- maybe that had something to do with it? In any case, the NFL saw fit to have the two worst teams from 1992 grapple twice the following season- They must have REALLY wanted to see Drew Bledsoe and Rick Mirer go at it, huh?

Both these games are particularly vivid for me personally. The September match-up at Foxboro happened on the day I moved into my dorm at Western Washington University. My new roommate was fairly aghast to see that the first thing I did was hook up the TV and yell at it for three hours. Then again, he once made everyone who shared the Fairhaven Stack 8, Floor 3 bathroom come look at a particularly gigantic deuce he dropped... So he wasn't exactly a great exemplar of social grace himself. Chris Warren pulverized the Patriots defense for 174 yards on 36 carries and helped the Hawks build a 17-0 lead... Which the defense tried to crap away, of course. Bledsoe led two 4th-quarter TD drives for the Pats, but Seattle held on to win 17-14.

A month later, I attended the rematch with a girl who was my best friend... but I was also madly in love with her (it was indeed a long story filled with sighs) ... As I wrote in this space before:

Being an 18-year-old dipshit, I had some weird ways of trying to woo her, like taking her to a Seahawks game. Kurt Cobain was still alive (in fact, Nirvana had released In Utero just a month before... it would become the soundtrack of my freshman year), as were the Seahawks chances of a competitive season.

Drew Bledsoe's homecoming wasn't to be... With #11 out with an injury, Scott Zolak faced the Seahawks. But even with that advantage, the Hawks trailed 9-3 late in a very boring game. I was in a near-panic that she wasn't having a good time, and this whole thing was a very bad idea.

Suddenly, Rick Mirer was doing his best Joe Montana impression. He drove us down the field, and with only seconds to play, threw the winning touchdown pass. The crowd went apeshit... even my lady friend got into it, and I got a nice prolonged, semi-passionate hug out of it. At that moment, the future was ablaze with possibilities, both for the Seahawks and my personal life. The Hawks were 4-3, and Rick Mirer was going to lead Seattle to football glory.

That 4-3 start turned into a 6-10 lead turd of a season. That game was the high point of Mirer's career... It was all downhill after that. A couple of months later, my best friend started dating someone. I told her I was in love with her. It wasn't reciprocal. I didn't take it well. Crash. Burn. Despair. 


3. 9/21/86 Seahawks 38 @ Patriots 31 
The Seahawks visited the defending AFC Champs, but the defense evidently decided to chill out at the hotel rather than face the Pats. Tony Eason torched the Hawks for 414 yards passing and three TDs, and New England held a seemingly secure 10-point lead with less than three minutes left to play. A Norm Johnson FG cut the lead to 7, and after a three-and-out Patrick Hunter blocked a punt that Paul Moyer scooped up in the end zone for the tying touchdown. After another Patriots three-and-out, Dave Krieg hit Ray Butler on a 67-yard rainbow for the winning margin. Krieg would only complete 9 out of his 20 pass attempts, but two were long TDs to Butler (54 and 67 yards). Take that, Tony Eason! There were 38 points scored in the 4th quarter, and this was also the first time I blurted out a curse word during a Seahawks game in front of my parents (I was 11. It was "Fuck!").

2. 10/14/12 Seahawks 24, Patriots 23
The 3-2 Seahawks faced an early-season challenge against the defending AFC Champion Patriots, and sadly I was forced to watch at a sports bar next to a clump of particularly obnoxious New England fans... As I wrote back then:

Despite the dropped interceptions, the fumbles, the mangled punt attempt, the roughing calls, and the lack of a rushing attack, it was only 23-10. Then Russell Wilson hit on a deep ball to Golden Tate... Then on 4th and Goal he threw a perfect pass to Braylon Edwards (who made a spectacular catch). I let out a yelp and a few fist pumps. The Patri-douche reminded me that it was futile. TWICE the defense stopped Tom Brady (one of the top 5 QBs to ever play the game) and gave the ball back to Seattle's offense. First, a flaccid 3-and-out. The Pats then seemed largely content to let their defense win the game. Russell Wilson wasn't going to beat them, right? King Jackass of Greater Massachusetts reminded me of that at maximum volume.

Play-action. Half-roll-out. Perfect rainbow dropped right into Sidney Rice's mitts. Touchdown.

I snapped. All inhibitions were sloughed off in an instant. The Social Contract was shredded. I was 8 years old. It was 1983. I was watching the Seahawks beat the Patriots in the Kingdome to clinch their first playoff spot ever. I screamed at the top of my lungs. I jumped and spun around like Oprah had just given me a new car. It was pure, uncut delirium- The joy that only comes from an unexpected victory. Diamond Joe Assmunch yelled "Too much time!" In my heart, I knew he was right. Over a minute on the clock, and Brady just needed a field goal. We all knew how this one was supposed to end.

Then Tom Brady found out the same thing Tony Romo, Aaron Rodgers and Cam Newton already learned via bitter experience this season: When the Seattle Seahawks absolutely, positively need to stop you, they don't check your resume first. They will simply brutalize you and your teammates and let you sort through the wreckage. As we stopped the Patriots on 4th down, Mr. Douche England BOLTED for the exit. He wanted NO part of my celebration. It was only then that it hit me... This team is built beat the fucking shit out of you.

Even as New England built a lead, they were getting beaten to a bloody pulp. Finally, in the game's waning moments, it paid the greatest of dividends. Terrific Tom Brady seemed jittery in the face of Seattle's relentless pass rush. Their superstar WRs and TEs racked up some nice fantasy numbers, but couldn't make the plays that would have put the game out of Russell Wilson's reach.

Russell Wilson? All that kid did today was outplay Tom Brady. I am rapturously happy to be wrong about him. I am overjoyed that everything I've written about him now looks laughably obtuse, like those articles from the 1930s telling pregnant women they should smoke in order to relax. He's already a valuable asset only 6 games into his career, able to win games with his arm and his legs when given the chance, and the limit to his potential isn't even visible yet. Go ahead, Twelves. Embrace this. Go buy a Wilson jersey, dagnabit!

1. 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.

In less than two weeks, that epochal victory will be bumped out of the top spot on this list.

Would you like to know more?


AaronAcrossAmerica said...

This is from memory so I might be wrong about this. I could look it up but that is way less fun than shooting from the hip so here goes:

Back when there were only three divisions, when two of those divisions had only four teams (NFC west and AFC Central) there were scheduling conflicts. In order to even the schedule out, and in an early attempt at "Parity", the NFL decided that the two worst teams from each 5 team division in the previous year would play each other twice the following season. The respective shitstorms put up by NE and SEA in 1992 led to the double header the following year.

Where once and for all Seattle's two game sweep silenced all debate, and cemented Mirer's legacy as clearly the better draft pick than Bledsoe.:)

In other news, I have loved your blog for a few years now. Thank you for sharing your energy, humor and love for the hawks with us. It is a pleasure to read your words and I just wanted to thank you. Cheers!

Richard Lester said...

I love your memories of things we are roughly the same age and I remeber many of these games as the Seahawks have become a dynasty I am even more fond of looking back at the old days it makes me appreciate what is happening now. One of my favorite stat lines of all time was a 1992 game againsta the Giants where the only play we could execute was a swing pass to J.L. Williams who had like 12 catches for 32 yards if you would have told me someday we would be a dynasty a 14 year old me would of been a little weary. I think the best way to sift through the bandwagon and real life long Seahawks fans is to see how excited they were when Steve Largent was presenting the NFC championship trophy after the Green Bay game I was really excited and disappointed the crowd wasn't a little more vocal when he was introduced at the podium. It is a golden age of Seahawks fandom and even though I have always thought the whole 12th man thing was kind of stupid it really has energized the fan base and the city of Seattle. Just know the Hawks fans up here in Alaska will be sending their best this Sunday. Keep up the great articles your a true Seahawks fan and it bleeds through your writing I love it.