January 13, 2015

The Seattle Cheese Grating Company: A Complete History

Up until a couple of years ago, it was difficult for me to lather up a good hatred of the Green Bay Packers. They've traditionally been a classy organization, they have heaps of (relatively inoffensive) tradition, tons of ties to the Seahawks organization, and they're the only publicly-owned NFL team (Shit- that should make a filthy lib-rul like me LOVE them). Aaron Rodgers is one of my favorite non-Seahawks, and they've been a very entertaining team to watch over the last few years. Back in 1996, when it looked like the Seahawks might bolt for Los Angeles, I strongly considered the Packers to become my new NFL obsession. Unless you root for a rival NFC North team, the Pack was hard to loathe. 

Until, well... you know... That one play. After Golden Tate's game-winning score on Monday Night Football back in 2012, a raging torrent of whinging burst forth from Wisconsin. Gee, you would have thought that the Packers just got screwed out of winning a Super Bowl, instead of losing a game in WEEK 3 on a controversial call. The stench of entitlement coming from Green Bay and all of their fans was nauseating as well... But we'll get back to that play (and that game) later. 

For a LONG time, Brett Favre alone gave us all plenty of reason to root against Green Bay. Mr. Wrangler Jeans dashed Seattle's Super Bowl dreams TWICE in playoff losses at Lambeau Field. In 2003, it was that heart-breaking OT "We want the ball and we're going to score" Wild Card defeat. In 2007, it was a soul-destroying divisional round blowout loss (after we jumped out to a 14-0 early lead). The Seahawks have only won 7 of their 17 previous meetings with the Pack, but this Sunday's NFC Championship Game is BY FAR the most important game these two franchises will ever play against each other. My prediction? A 27-19 Seahawks win that isn't as close as that score would indicate. But I'm getting ahead of myself... Here's our previous 7 wins over Green Bay, ranked: 

How did the Seahawks win a game where Dave Krieg put up a 41.6 QB rating and they turned the ball over 5 times? They ran for 193 yards, including 123 yards and a TD from Curt Warner. Seattle's defense recovered three fumbles and picked off Packers QBs twice, helping the Hawks improve to 6-3. Side note for any Packers fans reading this: Who the fuck was Randy Wright? He was your QB that day, but that sounds like the name of some forgotten 80s R&B singer. 

The Packers used to play a couple games a year down in Milwaukee, and those were usually the dates on the schedule against less "attractive" opponents. Before they stopped the Green Bay/Milwaukee split after the 1994 season, the Seahawks would face the Packers four times in Milwaukee and only once at Lambeau. Evidently our team from South Alaska wasn't worthy of prime dates up in Green Bay?

Anyway, in 1984 the Seahawks rolled into Alice Cooper's favorite town 5-2 and expecting an easy win over the 1-6 Packers. Lynn Dickey and James Lofton made the Hawks work for this victory, though. Dickey torched Seattle's usually dominant 1984 defense for 364 yards and three TDs, and future Hall-of-Famer Lofton had 5 grabs for 162 yards. After one quarter, Seattle trailed 17-7, and they were well on their way to a surprising defeat (Seattle also committed 17 penalties that cost 128 yards of field position. Damn!). Thankfully Krieg and Largent almost matched Dickey & Lofton- Mudbone racked up 310 passing yards, and Largent hauled in 7 catches for 129 yards and a TD. The defense would also sack Dickey 6 times and pick off three of his passes, helping Seattle get out of town with a 6-point victory. 

I actually still have the videotape of this one- what I remember is Derrick Fenner just going OFF on the Pack, and thankfully my memory didn't fail me this time. Both teams came in at 6-6, so this was effectively an elimination game for the losers. Despite facing a Packers team led by Anthony Dilweg at QB (wait-who?), Seattle was a significant underdog- A dome team wasn't going to win an outdoor December game with temps down in the 20s, right? 

The Hawks had a nice little streak of good luck going at this point- They had won three of their last four games. One was the miraculous "Kreig-to Skansi" win at Arrowhead, and the other two were consecutive 13-10 OT wins over Houston and San Diego. On that chilly Milwaukee day it certainly helped us that Dilweg played down to his awful-sounding name- The dude went 6 for 22 for 69 yards and a pick before he was replaced by Blair Kiel (Man- they really had a dry spell at QB between Dickey and Don Majkowski, huh?). Kiel was a HUGE improvement, but by then Seattle had built a 20-0 lead primarily on the legs of Fenner, who toted the ball 20 times for 112 yards and a TD. Kiel would throw two 4th-quarter touchdowns to make all us Twelves sweat, but the Hawks hung on to win 20-14. 

It was Monday Night Football, and the return of Mike Holmgren to Lambeau Field as Seattle's Head Coach. I remember pacing back and forth in my pathetic graduate dorm room at Ohio State, sweating and on the verge of puking before this one. Very few outside of the Twelve Army gave us any chance of victory, and it looked like Green Bay would snatch the early lead until Shawn Springs scooped and scored on a blocked field goal attempt. In my Springs jersey I ran out in the hallway braying like an ass, frightening the foreign students on my floor who had no fucking clue what a Seahawk was.  

Favre would answer with a long TD pass to tie the game, but Cortez Kennedy sacked Favre thrice and Springs snatched two of Seattle's four interceptions. Ricky Watters gashed GB for 125 yards on 31 carries and sent the Pack into a downward spiral that led to 8-8 and Ray Rhodes getting canned after just one year as Head Coach. 

Seattle rode this upset win over the Packers on MNF to a winning season and a playoff appearance (Well, there was that horrific collapse over the season's last six weeks, but still...). 

A SNOW GAME IN SEATTLE! This one was a great example of why Seahawks Stadium was a HUGE upgrade over the Kingdome- As loud as the Dome could get, it could never provide us with a memory quite like this one: Shaun Alexander shredding the Green Bay defense inside a snow globe. 

Hasselbeck and Favre cancelled each other out, both chucking three interceptions- But the Pack had no answer for Alexander, who delivered one of the last great performance of his career (we tend to forget the great games he had in our losses to San Diego and Chicago later that season). SA rambled for 201 yards on 40 (!) carries, but Seattle still found itself trailing a 4-6 team at home 21-12 in the 2nd half. Hasselbeck would finish strong with three late TD passes and the Hawks would end an unforgettable night with a 34-24 win. 

This game feels like it happened four YEARS ago, not four short months ago. Percy Harvin (Who?) had 100 total yards, Russell Wilson fired two TD passes, and Marshawn Lynch added two more scores and 110 yards as Seattle opened up their title defense in style. 

Let's cut the shit: It was a catch. The short version? Tate established possession and had two feet down in the end zone before Jennings got his mitts on the ball and got HIS feet on the ground. Touchdown, Seahawks! That one play aside, this was still a great win for the Seahawks on the national stage of Monday Night Football. As I wrote back then: 

The focus on officiating going full-on Chernobyl obscures a huge plotline of last night's game: The emergence of a Super-Bowl quality defense in Seattle. The eight first-half sacks jump off the stat sheet, but the Seahawks absolutely DOMINATED the reigning NFL MVP and one of the most powerful offensive attacks of all time. Aaron Rodgers could only lead Green Bay into the end zone once, and that was with a big scabby assist from a bullshit DPI on Kam Chancellor. Twelve points allowed against a team only months removed from averaging 35 ppg is more than impressive- it's a sign that we might just have the best defense in football. The defense was so comprehensively spectacular that it's hard to single out any players for individual plaudits. The moment that will stick with me is the complete smothering of Green Bay's final attempt to run out the clock (which was set up by one of about a dozen superlative Seattle special teams plays)- When we absolutely needed a stop, they got one. The Legion of Boom is starting to get a 2000 Ravens/2002 Bucs vibe going, and that should soil pantaloons all over the league.

What do you think, sirs? Did I miss anything? 


Leelas said...

Your Hail Mary post brought me to your blog for the first time. I was living abroad and supporting the Seahawks in a place where nobody watches football, and that victory left a foul taste in my mouth, particularly after the internet exploded with rage and entitlement. Your post helped me take pride in that victory. It's also clear, in retrospect, that your comments on the Seahawks defense back then were completely prophetic.

Laird of Madrona said...

Ramona: you may have to modify this list.