April 30, 2015

Almost Hawks: Brett Favre, Steve Young, Drew Bledsoe and the NFL Draft Crapshoot

It's widely expected that Florida State Quarterback Jameis Winston and Oregon Quarterback Marcus Mariota will go #1 and #2 in the first round of tonight's NFL Draft. If history is any indication, one of them will be a hugely successful NFL QB (A Peyton Manning, Donovan McNabb or Andrew Luck), and the other will be a spectacular failure (A Ryan Leaf, Tim Couch, or Robert Griffin III). In 1993 the Seahawks and Patriots held the top 2 picks in the draft, and both were in desperate need of a franchise quarterback. The Patriots would land a signal-caller who would only be surpassed in New England football annals by Tom Brady. The Hawks? The TL;DR version is that they drew the short straw. But you came here for the long version, didn't you?

The 1992 Seahawks were one of the worst teams to ever see a gridiron. There were bright spots in 1000-yard rusher Chris Warren, a surprisingly stout defense, and in the dominant performance of NFL Defensive Player of the Year Cortez Kennedy- But no team in the 16-game schedule era scored as few points as the '92 Hawks. Before the 1992 season, long-time Head Coach Chuck Knox was jettisoned because he refused to bench the still-serviceable Dave Krieg (this followed Knox being overruled in the Seattle War Room on Draft Day 1991: He wanted the Hawks to draft Brett Favre and groom him to take over for Krieg. The team went with noted Ent Dan McGwire instead). Hated ex-Raiders Coach Tom Flores took over, and a Cerberus of incompetent quarterbacking (McGwire, Kelly Stouffer, and Stan Gelbaugh) combined for this stat-line in 1992:

2323 yards, 9 touchdowns, 23 interceptions, 48.3 pass completion rate, and a 48.9 passer rating.

Only two years after spending a first-rounder on McGwire (while Favre was getting started on a Hall-of-Fame career in Green Bay), Seattle's most pressing need was at QB. Thanks to their putrid 2-14 campaign in '92, the Hawks held the 2nd pick in the 1993 NFL Draft. They picked after New England thanks to a 10-6 win over the Patriots in September of 1992, and that result would have massive consequences for both teams.

Washington State's Drew Bledsoe was touted as possibly the next Dan Marino. The kid out of Walla Walla (I grew up in the Tri-Cities, and I remember watching Bledsoe absolutely torch my Richland Bombers while I was a freshman at RHS in 1989) had three explosive seasons in the Palouse before declaring himself eligible for the '93 draft. Like most Twelves, I hoped that the homegrown Bledsoe would end up setting records in the Kingdome,

Notre Dame's Rick Mirer wore Joe Montana's #3 for the Fighting Irish, and Mirer was compared to the SF Hall-of-Famer ad nauseam leading up to the draft. Like Montana, Mirer was a mobile QB who was effective with his legs as well as his arm. In fact, San Francisco was so enamored with Mirer that they wanted to trade Steve Young to the Seahawks for the #2 pick in the 1993 draft. The Niners' plan was to keep Montana to groom Mirer, but Montana was already dead-set on moving on from San Francisco after perceived slights from the front office during the 1992 season- So Young stayed in the Bay Area, Montana was traded to Kansas City, and the Seahawks kept that draft pick.

New England took Bledsoe #1, and Seattle snapped up Mirer with the subsequent pick. I remember quickly moving from disappointment to optimism- Sure, it would have been nice to see Bledsoe in Seahawks blue, but Mirer was going to be just a great... Maybe even better, right?

Early on, it looked like Seattle might have snagged the better quarterback. In a week 3 contest at Foxboro, Mirer outplayed Bledsoe and the Hawks ground out a 17-14 win. In late October the teams would play again at the Kingdome, but Bledsoe would miss the rematch with an injury. The Seahawks trailed 9-3 late in the 4th quarter, but Mirer led the Hawks to the winning TD with only seconds left. The dramatic win got Seattle to 4-3, already doubling their win total from the previous season. The Patriots fell to 1-6, and the whispers they might have taken the wrong quarterback began.

The Hawks would crater with a 2-7 stretch to finish 1993 at 6-10, but Mirer would be named AP AFC Offensive Rookie of the Year. 1993 would end up as his Seattle peak. He never built upon the potential he flashed in his rookie season, but the Hawks would somehow convince the Bears to give up a 1st-round pick for him in February 1997 (allowing Seattle to take both Shawn Springs and Walter Jones in the 1997 Draft).

By 1996, Bledsoe was established as an elite NFL quarterback. He'd lead the Patriots to Super Bowl XXXI and go on to set franchise passing records that would stand until Tom Brady rolled into town.

It's bracing to reflect on how close we came to seeing Brett Favre, Steve Young or Drew Bledsoe in a Seahawks uniform. How different is franchise history if Knox won the War Room argument? If Montana stayed in SF? If we had lost at Foxboro in '92?

Since we're already speculating wildly: Who's more likely to become a Bledsoe or a Mirer? Mariota or Winston? Will a blockbuster trade like the one we didn't see in '93 go down tonight?

What do you think, sirs?

April 23, 2015

OFF TOPIC: Interview with Vox

I participated in an "oral history" piece about transgender folks over on Vox. Read it all, but the "Ramona P." stuff is me.

Check it out here and here, and let me know what you think.

April 22, 2015

The Seahawks All-Time/All-Drafted Team (2015)

I'll be blunt and admit that I know next to nothing about who the Seahawks should draft next week. If you're itching for actual knowledge and insight about that, you should amble over to Seahawks Draft Blog for a bit before coming back over here... I don't really pay any significant attention to college football, and my preferences have been proven dead wrong WAY too many times in the past for me to trust my own prospective judgments about the NFL draft. I've been ecstatic about us drafting duds like Aaron Curry, a bit puzzled by picks like Russell Wilson, and disappointed by our selection of future Hall-of-Famers like Earl Thomas. Like the Sea Captain on The Simpsons, sometimes I am just left muttering "Yarr... I don't know what I'm doing." 

Thankfully, judging the performance of our front office in the draft retrospectively is much easier. A few years back I posted an "All-Time/All-Drafted" Seahawks team. Six years later, a reboot is LONG past due... First, the rules: 

A) players must have been drafted by the Seahawks (no undrafted players like Doug Baldwin or Dave Krieg)

B) players must have made a significant contribution with Seattle (no Ahman Greens, for example).

Quarterback: Russell Wilson
You know who was the best quarterback drafted by the Seahawks before 2012? Seneca Wallace. Jim Zorn, Dave Krieg and Matt Hasselbeck were all acquired via means other than the draft. Yes, Wilson has only been the league for 3 years, but he's already not just the best quarterback the Seahawks have ever drafted- He's the best QB we've ever had, period. Easiest decision on this list. 

Running Back: Shaun Alexander; Fullback: John L. Williams
Curt Warner and Chris Warren had stellar runs in Seattle, but no other RB the Hawks have ever drafted comes close 2005 NFL MVP Alexander's resume. He's the all-time franchise leader in rushing yards and touchdowns scored and is a sure bet for a spot in the Seahawks Ring of Honor. 1986 first-round pick John L. Williams deserves a to have his name splayed across the Seahawks Stadium upper deck, too. Only Steve Largent and Brian Blades caught more passes for Seattle than the multi-talented fullback, and Williams stacked up nearly 8700 total yards from scrimmage as the Ground Chuck Era bled into The Forgotten Years. 

Wide Receivers: Brian Blades and Darrell Jackson
While it was tempting to try to slip Joey Galloway or Golden Tate into one of these slots, Blades and Jackson hold the #2 and #3 spots on the franchise's all-time receiving leaderboard. For all the grief D-Jack got over his bouts of the dropsies, only Largent has caught more TDs for Seattle than Jackson. He's still probably the best player in franchise history to never play in a Pro Bowl.  

Offensive Line: Walter Jones, Steve Hutchinson, Max Unger, J.R. Sweezy, Russell Okung
Jones and Hutchinson are the only offensive linemen in Seahawks history to be named All-Pro multiple times, so they were the easy picks here for one side of the line. I give Unger the nod over Kevin Mawai because the vast majority (and all of the Pro Bowls) of Mawai's storied career happened after he left Seattle. Sweezy gets the guard spot across from Hutch over Pete Kendall, and I cheated a little bit by sliding Okung over to right tackle opposite Big Walt. 

Tight End: John Carlson
How bad were the Seahawks back in 2008 and 2009? Carlson was the team MVP both seasons. When you look at how slim the pickings were at tight end through our team's history, current Cardinal Carlson is still the obvious choice. 

Defensive line: Jacob Green, Cortez Kennedy, Brandon Mebane, Michael Sinclair
Cantonite Tez anchors this formidable theoretical d-line, and end rushers Green and Sinclair combined for a whopping 171 sacks wearing blue and green. Bane gets the other tackle spot, nudging aside Red Bryant and Rocky Bernard.

Linebackers: Bobby Wagner, Lofa Tatupu, K.J. Wright 
Wags and Wright are the cornerstones of the current Seattle linebacking corps, while Tatupu anchored the middle of Seahawks' defense through the playoff runs of the late-Holmgren era.

Defensive Backs: Richard Sherman, Kenny Easley, Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor
Yes, I know I have three safeties and just one corner here. But would you rather have Shawn Springs/Marcus Trufant on the field over ANY one of Easley/ET/Bam-Bam Kam? Let them murder the enemy WRs and Sherm can cover whomever happens to survive.

The Traitor Josh Brown is still the best placekicker the Seahawks have ever drafted, and Ruben Rodriguez gets punting duties basically by default. Charlie Rogers and Bobbie Joe Edmonds were the most versatile/effective kick/punt returners Seattle's ever seen, and Fredd Young had absolute murder in his heart covering kicks for the Hawks in the mid-80s.

What do you think, sirs? Any glaring omissions? Let's hash it out in the comments!

April 15, 2015

"I'm the guy who does his job. You must be the other guy." (My 2006 Seattle Seahawks Story)

In the spring of 2006, the Seahawks were coming off a harrowing defeat in Super Bowl XL and I was going through some major life changes. My son was born that April, and I was getting ready to leave Columbus for a 1-year teaching gig in rural Ohio. Even though Seattle fell two wins shy of a Super Bowl return trip, the 2006 team is one of my favorite squads the franchise has ever fielded. They are somewhat unfairly remembered as simply capitalizing on one of the most gargantuan mistakes in post-season history- But to me they were absolutely heroic. No team in franchise history delivered as many thrilling finishes as the '06ers, and they came much closer to a 2nd consecutive NFC Championship than most remember. Beyond that, they were one of the few handholds I had for hanging onto some sort of sanity through a sleep-deprived year in the Wilderness of Northeast Ohio. 

The offseason began with the Steve Hutchinson debacle, and when the Vikings' front office expertly outmaneuvered Tim Ruskell, Seattle was left with a gaping hole in their offensive line. The Hawks retaliated against Minnesota by using a similar clause in a contract offer to WR Nate Burleson, but the damage was done. The unit that cleared the way for Shaun Alexander's MVP performance of 2005 was irrevocably weakened. On defense, the major offseason acquisition was former All-Pro linebacker Julian Peterson. Expectations were dizzying as the Hawks started the campaign where the 2005 season died: At Ford Field in Detroit. The game itself was a snoozeworthy 9-6 affair, but it ended with a Josh Brown game-winning field goal as time expired, and I celebrated our 1-0 start with humility and dignity (not really): 

The next week, Seattle would trade their 2007 first-round pick for former Super Bowl MVP wideout Deion Branch (No, PCJS didn't invent the Seattle tradition of trading 1st-rounders for what they hoped were game-changing receivers). They'd grind out a win over Arizona and hang on to beat the Giants after building a 35-3 lead to reach 3-0 going into a Sunday Night Football showdown at Soldier Field against Chicago. The 37-6 carpet-bombing the Seahawks absorbed seemed to confirm that they were no match for the Bears in the race for the NFC crown. The Hawks limped into the bye with a huge test looming in St. Louis against the still detestable Rams. 

That year my son, my ex-wife and I were exiled to a part of Ohio so remote that the nearest Target was a 30-minute drive away. How rustic was the setting? There were parking spaces for Amish horse-drawn buggies at the local Wal-Mart. On top of the standard travails of raising any newborn, my son had a serious medical condition: Hirschsprung Disease. His life was in danger during the first few weeks of his life, but thankfully the doctors at Nationwide Children's Hospital were able to figure out what was going on and perform corrective surgery before it was too late. In October, he endured a 2nd procedure, on top of my early efforts to indoctrinate him: 

The mixture of caring for a child with major health issues and having to leave Columbus for a year took a toll on my ex-wife and I. It was also around this time that it was dawning on me that I was transgender, and that I would need to figure out how to address that realization. For me, the three hours I spent watching the Seahawks each week took on an added significance. I would forget everything else swirling around in my life and just lose myself in Twelvedom (though I did it quietly if the baby was sleeping). 

The next in a procession of heart-stopping wins came on the road in St. Louis. The Hawks fought back from a 21-7 halftime deficit to take a late 27-21 lead. After a Mo Morris fumble deep in STL territory, Torry Holt made a ridiculous 80-yard TD catch that looked like the death blow. Down by a point, Matt Hasselbeck coolly marched the Hawks into Rams territory. An illegal procedure flag was misinterpreted by St. Louis Coach Scott Linehan as a foul that included a 10-second, game-ending clock runoff. That jabbering ninny was wrong, and jogged off the field slack-jawed after Josh Brown nailed the 54-yard game winner at the final gun to steal a 30-28 victory. 

The season took a dark turn a week later against Minnesota, though. It was bad enough that the defense utterly collapsed and made Chester Taylor look like some mutant hybrid of Chuck Foreman and Robert Smith. I also had the misfortune of watching the game with one of the most downbeat and negative Twelves I've ever known. When E,J. Henderson dived at Matt Hasselbeck's knees and knocked him out of action for a month, that Eeyore literally said "Oh, well. Season's over." Needless to say, I didn't invite him over again after that. 

The season was far from over. Seneca Wallace managed the Hawks to a 2-2 record as Hasselbeck recuperated, with the most notable moment being a thrilling 24-22 win over the Rams at Seahawks Stadium. Nate Burleson jolted the Seahawks to life with an 90-yard punt return TD in the 4th quarter, but it still took a 2-minute drill led by Wallace to set up ANOTHER Brown game-winner as the clock hit triple-zero. I was there, and yes, I owned a Deion Branch jersey: 

When Hasselbeck returned, he'd lead Seattle to a key MNF win in the Seahawks Stadium snowglobe against Green Bay. A week later on Sunday Night Football in Denver, Josh Brown won his FOURTH game of the season on a kick in final seconds. The Hawks were 8-4 and still had a decent shot at winning the top seed in the NFC. Instead, the tailspin began. They fell to the Matt Leinart-led 3-9 Cardinals. They got blown out at home on Thursday Night Football in a driving rainstorm by the 5-8 49ers. In those two games, the Hawks were favored to win by a combined 14 points. They played so badly that a close loss to playoff-bound San Diego the next week was treated more like a victory (it also helped that Seattle backed into winning the NFC West that day, too). 

Seattle would end the season with a win at Tampa to scratch their way to 9-7, but along the way they absorbed multiple injuries on defense. They would face Bill Parcells and his Dallas Cowboys with a secondary so depleted they were picking guys off the street and telling them to cover Terrell Owens. No one outside the Twelve Army gave the boys in gun-metal blue much of a chance to beat Dallas in the NFC Wild Card Game. 

I was at that game, and I witnessed an instant classic alongside 66,000 of my closest friends. Former loan officer Pete Hunter somehow helped hold T.O. to 2 catches for 26 yards and Seattle trailed by only 7 midway through the 4th quarter. When the Hawks failed on 4th-and-goal from the one-yard line, the guy in front of me moaned that the game was over, and I snapped. I screamed "DAMN IT! It's not over!" Kelly Jennings proved me right on the following play, causing a Terry Glenn fumble that ended up out of the end zone for a safety. With 4 minutes left, Hasselbeck found Jerramy Stevens for the go-ahead score. 

Dallas would race deep into Seattle territory and into position to kick the game-winning field goal. A savvy timeout by Mike Holmgren jolted the replay official into overturning a catch that would have given Dallas a first down and allowed them to run out the clock before trying the winning kick. On the replayed down Seattle stopped the Cowboys a yard short, setting up one of the craziest sequences in NFL playoff history. 

Yes, everyone remembers Tony Romo dropping the snap, but that handsome fellow picked the ball up and looked like he had a clear path for the go-ahead TD (Or worse, a first-down that would let Dallas run out ALL of the time left before trying another field goal). Just like he did against Dallas a year earlier (to set up- you guessed it- a Josh Brown game-winner), Jordan Babineaux lived up to his "Big Play Babs" moniker. He chased Romo down and tackled him INCHES from a game-ending first down. Seahawks Stadium roared with ecstasy and relief. 

A couple of other things to remember: Even if Dallas had converted that FG attempt, the Seahawks would have had over a minute to get into range for yet another game-winner off Brown's foot. After the Seahawks got the ball back, Dallas still had timeouts remaining. If they had held Seattle to a 3-and-out, they would have gotten the ball back in good field position with time to get back into field goal range. Seattle's victory wasn't sealed until Shaun Alexander tore off a 22-yarder to eat up almost all of the time remaining.

I was left thinking about that line from Martin Scorsese's The Departed: "I'm the guy who does his job. You must be the other guy." That day, the Seahawks did their jobs, and the Cowboys were the other guys. 

Seattle went into Chicago as huge underdogs in the NFC Divisional Playoff, but came achingly close to a stunning upset that would have sent them to New Orleans for the conference championship game. Shaun Alexander had the last great game of his career, rushing for 108 yards and two touchdowns. The last TD gave Seattle a 24-21 lead that it held deep into the 4th quarter, only to see Rex Grossman sling the Bears into range for the tying field goal with 4 minutes left. Despite his solid overall performance, Alexander failed on 3rd AND 4th-and-1 on the edge of Josh Brown's range just before the 2-minute warning. Seattle would get tantalizingly close to Brown's range again, only to see Hasselbeck take a sack and then be forced to let the clock run out. In the biggest moments of the season, Hutchinson's absence was acutely felt. Overtime. 

Seattle won the coin toss, but perhaps chastened by Alexander's earlier failure they threw the ball deep on 3rd and 2. Incomplete. Ryan Plackemeier's 18-yard punt gave Chicago great field position, and a Grossman beat Ken Hamlin deep on 3rd and 10 to set up Robbie Gould's winning boot. 

The Hawks outplayed the eventual NFC Champions, only to squander a chance to return to the Super Bowl. I am still convinced that if Seattle had gotten the job done that day at Soldier Field, they would have beaten the Saints the following week and given Indianapolis all they could have handled in XLI. Sigh. 

Despite the sour ending, the 2006 Seahawks carved out a special place in franchise lore. They were an over-achieving bunch that gave us a disproportionate number of spectacular high definition memories. Over and over, they were declared to be defeated and hopeless, but ended up getting further than almost anyone anticipated they could. In a mentally grueling stretch of my life, they gave me five months of (mostly) joyous distraction. It was the kind of season that reminded me why I'm a Twelve. 

What are your memories of the 2006 Seahawks? What did I miss? Let's keep this going in the comments!

April 7, 2015


Hey guys! I just agreed to a syndication deal with the Seattle P-I website. Nothing will change here. I'll simply be porting PG versions of my posts on this page over there. Anything I post over there that isn't on this page? I'll link to it.... Like this.

This is still home. The P-I thing is my flat in the city.

What do you think, sirs?

April 2, 2015

The 10 Most Traumatic Plays in Seahawks History

On Saturday I turn 40, which has put me in a reflective mood. Unfortunately, early April is also when I think about the death of Kurt Cobain, which makes me both reflective and depressed.

SIDEBAR: I was a freshman at Western in 1993-1994. I was already a Nirvana fan, but "In Utero" came out in the Fall of 1993 and became the oddly specific soundtrack of an intense friendship that curdled into obsession for me and then spectacularly, devastatingly disintegrated. Years later, when "You Know You're Right" was finally released, it seemed to be EXACTLY describing my headspace in the Spring of 1994. I'll never forget the day news broke of Kurt's death- I remember walking through the courtyard at the Fairhaven dorms, with people leaning out their windows wailing in rage and despair. Cobain wasn't just an incredibly talented musician- He was also someone who was a devoted feminist and anti-racist, and had very progressive views on gender identity for the late 80s/early 90s. So yeah... About this time every year a wave of sadness tends to wash over me.

Why not use it to be productive, then? Here's my list of the ten most traumatic SINGLE PLAYS in Seahawks history. I'm sure #1 will surprise no one, but let's take a stroll through the darkest passages of the Twelve Hive Mind anyway...

10. John Elway: Seattle Soul Eater
This one gets a spot on the list for its personal significance...

That friend I got obsessed with a couple paragraphs above? Well, I was going to take her to this Seahawks/Broncos dust-up in November 1993. At the very last minute, she told me that not only was she not going to the game with me, but that she would get a ride back to Bellingham with her new boyfriend.

SIDEBAR: With the benefit of maturity and hindsight, I know that I was a total shitheel about that whole situation. Thankfully her and I fleeced everything out a few years ago. 

I wish I could tell you that I took the news with grim stoicism and class. Nope. I had a panic attack and by the time I got my shit together, it was 9 am and I had to hustle to make it to the game by kickoff. For the first time, I'd be going to a game solo.

I hit Seattle about 12:30, and drove right into the gaping maw of pre-game traffic, which I usually missed by being ridiculously early. So I found myself sitting on the ramp off I-90, within sight of the Dome, gridlocked. I didn't get into the stadium until a few minutes into the first quarter, but there was no score yet.

I got to my seat in the 300 level, just in time to see the pivotal play of the game, and of Seattle's season. I hadn't even sat down yet... It was 3rd and long for Denver from midfield. 65,000 twelves combined to make a deafening roar, and it looked like Antonio Edwards was going to force a 3-and-out or a turnover with a vicious blindside hit on Mr. Ed...

Somehow, Elway pulled a Ben Kenobi, sensed his impending doom, ducked under Edwards and fired a perfect 50-yard TD strike to Shannon Sharpe. 7-0 Denver, but it felt like 70-0.

The Hawks would get it together, sacking Elway 4 times (including once for a safety) and picking him once, but once Rod Bernstine punched it in late in the 4th to make it 17-9 the game and Seattle's season was over (nope, no two-point conversions in the NFL until 1994, boys and girls).

The Seahawks would finish with a 1-4 Death March towards a disappointing 6-10 finish (yes, much better than 2-14 in 1992, but still a gut punch after a 5-5 start), while Denver once again made the playoffs. When you couple that play with what was going on in my personal life, that play is still one of my most unpleasant memories as a Seahawks fan.

9. Mike Harden's Dirty Hit on Steve Largent 
8. Curt Warner's Knee Injury in 1984 opener 
Steve Largent's REVENGE upon Mike Harden is rightfully legendary...

But back in week 1, Harden obliterated #80 with a late and dirty forearm that broke Largent's facemask and a handful of his milk-strengthened teeth as well. I honestly thought our best player might have just been killed on the field. It felt like Ivan Drago murdering Apollo Creed. It was awful.

Back in 1984, the Seahawks began the season with stratospheric expectations after reaching the AFC Championship Game the previous year. Rookie running back Curt Warner was a proto-Barry Sanders in his initial NFL campaign, and seemed set on a Hall-of-Fame trajectory. On Kickoff Weekend, Warner took a toss on a sweep near Cleveland's goal line. Without being touched, he collapsed in a heap. His ACL was shredded. Yes, the Hawks would have a great season anyway, going 12-4 and winning a playoff game. Yes, Warner would come back in 1985 and have multiple 1000-yard seasons and Pro Bowl appearances. But that injury robbed him (and the Seahawks) of quite a few triumphant moments.

7. Shawn McDonald's OT TD to Finish Off Epic Seattle Collapse 
6. Bobby Engram's Dropped TD in 2004 NFC Wild Card Game
Two from the unspeakably gruesome 2004 season!

First, the biggest 4th-quarter collapse in franchise history: For 54 minutes, the Seahawks dominated the defending NFC West Champion Rams. They led 27-10. Shaun Alexander shredded the St. Louis 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. Even though I was a 29-year-old semi-adult, I collapsed into a sobbing heap after that play.

Just over two months later, Seattle would meet the Rams in the NFC Wild Card Game. The Hawks came out oddly flat and fell behind 14-3. Shaun Alexander disappeared, only scratching out 40 yards on the ground, but Hasselbeck and Jackson were magnificent- Matthew scorched the Rams for 341 yards passing, 128 of which were snagged by D-Jack. Once again, the Seahawks would fight back and lead 20-17 in the final quarter. Once again, the defense would squander that lead. Hasselbeck, Jackson and the rest of the Seahawks sprinted downfield on a desperate final drive, trailing 27-20. They'd reach the St. Louis 5-yard-line before stalling. 4th Down. Hasselbeck would avoid pressure and chuck a little sidearm toss at Bobby Engram. It wasn't the easiest catch to make, but it was one you have to make in the playoffs.

Engram didn't. Game over. Season over.

5. Fredd Young's OT interception waved off in Wild Card loss at Houston
In the 1987 AFC Wild Card game, the Hawks were severely outplayed for about 58 minutes. After a missed Houston FG gave the Hawks the ball down by seven in the waning moments, Dave Krieg led an amazing TD drive that included a 4th and 10 conversion BY INCHES on a diving Steve Largent snag, a long bomb to Ray Butler and the tying score on a lazer-beam strike to Largent. This was probably the single greatest performance of #80's career: 7 catches for 132 yards and both Seattle touchdowns. Largent had more impressive statistical performances, but none on a bigger stage, and none with the team's main offensive weapon (Curt Warner) sidelined with an injury.

In overtime, All-Pro linebacker Fredd Young picked off a deflected Warren Moon pass deep in Oilers territory. Unfortunately, the INT was waved off and declared incomplete despite clear visual evidence that the ball never touched the astroturf. There was no Instant Replay in 1987, and this would just be start of a long and traumatic relationship between the Seattle Seahawks NFL officiating incompetence. On the next Seattle possession, Krieg would throw a pick, setting up the Oilers in our territory. Tony Zendejas wouldn't miss again, and I retreated to my room to cry out the cruel end of a promising season.

4. Vinny Testaverde's Phantom Touchdown
The 1998 Seahawks were 6-6 and fighting not only for their playoff lives, but to keep Coach Dennis Erickson employed. They played their best game of the year, on the road, at 10 am Seattle time, and against the playoff-bound Jets. All they had to do to hold on to a 31-26 season-defining, coach-saving victory was to stop the Jets on 4th and goal... and they did.

Until uber-dipshit official Phil Luckett signaled touchdown. Later, he would say that he thought that Testaverde's helmet was the ball. I was so incensed that I broke numerous items in my tiny Bellingham apartment. Seattle would limp to 8-8, and Dennis Erickson would get canned.

Two very important things happened because of this game. The NFL brought back Instant Replay, and Paul Allen hired Mike Holmgren to run and coach the Seahawks. In the end, it all worked out- But I'll never forget the rage and hopelessness I felt that day.


3. "We Want The Ball And We're Gonna Score."
When Matt Hasselbeck uttered those fateful words after Seattle won the coin toss to start overtime of the 2003 NFC Wild Card Game against Green Bay, I honestly thought "Cool! That's our Hass! Bad ass!"

After his pass intended for Alex Bannister was intercepted by Al Harris and returned for a season-murdering score, Beck's boast won immortal infamy. Oh well... We kinda returned the favor last January.

Squarsies, Cheeseheads?

2. Ticky-Tack Holing Call on Sean Locklear in Super Bowl XL derails Seattle Comeback 
As the 4th quarter of Super Bowl XL began, the Seahawks only trailed 14-10. Despite playing in a unprecedentedly hostile environment for a Super Bowl and being hamstrung by incompetent, frightened, and intimidated officiating, Seattle was in the midst of what seemed destined to be a 98-yard go-ahead touchdown drive. Matt Hasselbeck delivered a strike to Jerramy Stevens to set up the Hawks on Pittsburgh's 1-yard line. Surely NFL MVP Shaun Alexander would punch it in on the next play and Seattle would pull away for the franchise's first Championship. Mike Holmgren would become the first coach to win Super Bowls with two different franchises. Matt Hasselbeck would instantly be considered an "elite" quarterback. Everything would change, forever.

Then you noticed the flag.

Sean Locklear got flagged for holding. Was it technically holding? Maybe. Would it have been called against the Steelers that day? No fucking way. On the next play Hasselbeck threw a crushing interception, and Pittsburgh exploited their advantage with the officials and the limitations of Etric Pruitt to win their fifth Lombardi Trophy.


1. Malcom Butler's Interception in Super Bowl XLIX
Ugh. I really didn't want to watch this again. I don't really want to THINK about it ever again. Here's what I said strolling through the debris field of our collective shattered minds two months ago:

On Sunday night and into Monday, I was shoulder-to-shoulder with everyone enraged that Carroll didn't just give it to Shawn at the 1-yard-line. I'm glad I waited to write about the game until now, though. For one thing, I didn't fall into the trap of espousing dipshit conspiracy theories about the play call (Sidebar: If there was a conspiracy to get Wilson the MVP instead of Lynch, why was Shawn's number called on first down?). Beyond that, upon reflection, calling a pass on 2nd down in that situation made a LOT of sense.

It's natural to become obsessed with that fateful play. We were one yard away from winning back-to-back Super Bowls. We were one yard away from football immortality. What if Bevell had called a fade to Matthews to the back corner? What if Russell had pulled it down and just walked into the end zone? What if Lockette had fought a little harder for the ball? What if it was an ever-so-slightly more accurate pass? It's so easy to tumble into that bottomless rabbit hole. 

I did. I'm still kinda there. Aren't you, too? The Jimmy Graham trade helped, and my mental state will improve greatly once the games start again in September. However, we all know the only cure for this malady will be another Super Bowl victory. Even then, it will be incredibly hard to avoid the nagging notion that we were ONE YARD AWAY from back-to-back World Championships.

Two out of three won't be bad, though... :)

What do you think, sirs? Any big omissions on my part?