September 24, 2015

The Chancellor Returns (and a Look at Seahawks-Bears History)

(This is not actually a picture of Kam Chancellor pooping a football)

They were a young, brutal, talented team. They had an efficient young quarterback, a bruising force at halfback, and a defense that tore through the enemy like a debris-flinging tornado. They were coming off a trip to the Super Bowl, but one of their superstars held out in an attempt to finagle a better contract out of the club.

They opened the season with a road loss to a divisional rival, and followed that up by dropping a close game to a rival DESPERATE for payback. After that 0-2 start, the holdout superstar returned. They would end the season on a 12-2 run and win another World Championship.

Am I predicting what will happen to the 2015 Seahawks? Kinda. But what I just described was the story of the 1993 Dallas Cowboys. With Kam Chancellor returning to the VMAC, the historical paralells between those early-90s Dallas teams and our Seahawks couldn't be clearer.

I for one welcome back Kam with open arms. Yeah, his holdout was a stupid, unproductive, destructive decision. He cost himself a lot of money, some credibility in the Seattle locker room, and a lot of goodwill from the Twelve Army. However, given what he has done for this team and this fan base over the years, anyone who isn't willing to cut him some slack is a myopic dope. The vitriol hurled at Chancellor from some elements of the Twelve Army is frankly disturbing and creepy. The team doesn't own him, and neither do you. These guys are autonomous, you know, PEOPLE. Someone tweeted at me a few days ago that he was burning his Chancellor jersey. Fuck you, pal. If you are out there reading this, and you try to turn around and cheer for him now? I kinda wish Kam could hit your fickle ass at full speed. Dipshit.

Anyway, we now turn to Chicago. This looks like an impossible assignment for an overmatched Bears team. It is. My prediction? A 30-12 Seahawks victory. How about we look back at our Top 10 wins over the Bears? Enjoy!

10. 12/12/82 Seahawks 20, Bears 14
This was an unremarkable game between two teams heading for losing seasons, but it's still notable for a couple of reasons. First, this was one of my earliest experiences rooting for Seattle as a 7-year-old proto-Twelve. Earlier that season I was rooting for Washington... Because I thought they were from Washington State (Facepalm). Once I figured that out, I started paying more attention to the Seahawks, and like many fans back then one player in particular enraptured me: Steve Largent. Number 80 hauled in 8 Jim Zorn offerings for 111 yards that day, and Seattle evened their record at 3-3 after an 0-2 start before the '82 Players' Strike. Weird notes? Jim Zorn outgained Walter Peyton on the ground, but Sweetness connected on a 39-yard TD pass to Brian Baschnagel.

9. 11/5/78 Seahawks 31 @ Bears 29
The 4-5 Hawks entered Soldier Field as 3-point underdogs, but they'd escape Chicago with a win that'd start a 5-2 streak to conclude the 1978 campaign. Sherman Smith dashed for 125 yards and two touchdowns, and Largent added 126 yards and a brace of touchdowns of his own. Sidebar: Chicago's coach that year was Neill Armstrong. Think about how many times he had to say "No, I'm not THE Neil Armstrong." Think about the mental discipline he had to exert to keep from rolling his eyes and sighing EVERY DAMN TIME it came up. Poor bastard.

8. 9/23/84 Seahawks 38, Bears 9
How did the Seahawks win with Dave Krieg only completing 6 passes? How did they win with Largent catching just one pass and while gaining a paltry 203 yards of total offense? The Seattle defense OBLITERATED Chicago's offense, sacking Chicago QBs 4 times, forcing 6 turnovers, and scoring a trio of touchdowns. This was also only the 2nd Seahawks game I ever attended, and Largent's lone catch will be forever burned into my memory banks. It's at the 0:27 mark of the clip below. WOW.

7. 10/19/03 Seahawks 24, Bears 17
The Seahawks came into this game 4-1 and as 11-point favorites over the 1-4 Bears. The Hawks sputtered out to a 17-6 lead and the Twelve Army watched in horror as Chicago scored a field goal, a touchdown, and a two-point conversion in short order to tie the game. Seattle got the ball with four minutes left, and Shaun Alexander gobbled up 48 of his 101 rushing yards on that final drive, including a 25-yard touchdown run to put the Hawks back on top. A Marcus Trufant interception on Chicago's ensuing drive sealed the win, but this near-miss was a harbinger of the collapses to come (later that season in Baltimore, and... well... the entire 2004 season).

6. 9/19/99 Seahawks 14 @ Bears 13
Ladies and gents, this was the one and only highlight of the brief Glenn Foley era in Seahawks lore. In fact, it was Foley's only start at QB for the Seahawks. At least he made the most of it, throwing for 283 yards, 2 4th quarter TDs and no picks. This was a pretty typical 10-am-start sleepwalking performance for Seattle until the final quarter, when the Seahawks sprung up off the mat and erased a 13-0 Chicago advantage. In the final minutes, Foley hit Fabian Bownes (who?) for the game-winning 49-yard score.

On a personal note, this game went down on my first weekend after moving out to Columbus for grad school, and the Seahawks win took the edge off the spectacular loneliness and isolation I was feeling at the time. More about the 1999 season here...

5. 11/18/07 Seahawks 30, Bears 23
The Twelve Army was still smarting from an OT divisional playoff loss at Soldier Field 10 months earlier, and demanded a small measure of satisfaction in the rematch at Seahawks Stadium. Chicago jumped out to a worrisome 10-0 lead early, but Matt Hasselbeck came through with an all-time great performance: 30/44 for 337 yards, 2 TDs and 0 picks (isn't Beck's 2007 season incredible in retrospect, given that Seattle absolutely couldn't do a damn thing on the ground?). D.J. Hackett flashed his (ultimately untapped) potential with a 9-catch, 136-yard day, and the defense sealed the win by forcing a Rex Grossman fumble late in the 4th quarter. Side note: this was also the game where The Traitor Josh Brown LIT UP Devin Hester on a kickoff return... ahhh, memories.

4. 12/18/11 Seahawks 38 @ Bears 14 
Despite missing important starters like Jay Cutler and Matt Forte, the Bears were still favored to beat the Seahawks. No one should ever get too high and mighty about dominating Caleb Hanie and Josh McCown, but the Seattle defense DID rack up four sacks and four interceptions that day, including the momentum-shifting 3rd Quarter pick-six from Red Bryant. Big Red snatched Hanie's errant toss out of the air and rumbled 20 yards for the score that put Seattle ahead for good in one of the highlights of the 2011 Seattle campaign.

3. 10/17/10 Seahawks 23 @ Bears 20
The 2-2 Seahawks were supposed to get mangled by the big, scary 4-1 Bears, but Seattle shocked every Non-Twelve alive and delivered the first big road win of the Pete Carroll era. Marshawn Lynch scored a TD in his first Seahawks action after being traded by Buffalo, and the Hawks hung on for the victory after getting TERRORIZED by a late Devin Hester punt return TD. As I wrote in this space at the time:

Usually it's Seattle's QB who takes a 3-hour beating when the Hawks hit the road. Not today... It was amazing to watch the Seahawks defense beat Jay Cutler to a dazed, fuzzy pulp with six sacks, a safety, and a fuck-load of hits/hurries.

Usually it's an opposing WR that runs wild all over Seattle for 10 catches and 135 yards. Not today... Mike Williams fucking TOOK the #1 WR job today with a "comeback player of the year" sort of performance.

It went on and on... Russell Okung took a big step towards me buying his jersey with a complete ERASURE of Julius Peppers. The young guys in our secondary got beat a handful of times, but overall they played great, buttressed by the veteran leadership of Lawyer Milloy and future Ring-of-Honoree Marcus Trufant. Jon Ryan pinned the Bears inside the 20 what, like 17 times? It sure felt that way.

Beast Mode/Young Nastman are going to spearhead a great ground attack, hopefully well into the middle of the decade. It was heartening to see Lynch turn negative plays into something positive, if not at least neutral, more than once. 

(It's bracing to go back and read my old posts. Remember when we thought Mike Williams was going to become an All-Pro WR? Remember when I used to call Justin Forsett "Young Nastyman?" And did I seriously want an Okung jersey back then?) 

2. 12/2/12 Seahawks 23 @ Bears 17 (OT)
I can't really improve upon what I wrote at the time... Here's an excerpt:

The Seahawks trailed 14-10 late in the 4th, but on the final regulation drive Russell Wilson started picking up chunks of real estate with his arm and his legs, and suddenly Seattle was across midfield. Wilson made a spectacular throw on the run to Sidney Rice, and Golden Tate topped that with a stupendous effort to score the winning touchdown with only 20 seconds left to play. Twelves loosed a million celebratory tweets- We were going to pull it off. 

Effervescent joy turned into black, curdled despair in an instant. Jay Cutler chucked it deep to an inexplicably open Brandon Marshall (who DOMINATED Seattle DBs all afternoon) and Chicago was in field goal range. Our old nemesis Robbie Gould banged home the tying field goal... Overtime. The most painful Seahawks loss since Super Bowl XL loomed. I started dreading the aftermath, and plotted my strategy for avoiding media coverage of this devastating collapse. Every Seahawks fan alive KNEW that if Chicago got the ball back, we would lose. We no longer trusted our defense to secure victory- Our only chance was to win the coin toss and drive all the way into Bears territory and score ANOTHER touchdown. I was a wreck. I was sitting in front of my computer, shaking, frazzled and gently weeping... and with no real expectation of victory. 

Eighty MORE yards (and the Bears defense) stood between the Seahawks and a narrative-shifting, season-altering victory. Russell Wilson's temperament is thankfully much more stable than mine, and he led the Hawks on a triumphant 12-play, 7-and-a-half minute march. Wilson personally chewed up 28 of those yards on the ground, and only threw two passes over the entire drive. One was a perfect dart to Doug Baldwin to convert a 3rd-and-10, and the other was the game-winning touchdown pass to Sidney Rice, who got over the goal line before getting absolutely DESTROYED by a Bears defender. 

Two drives. 177 yards. Two game-winning touchdowns. That's what Russell Wilson delivered on Seattle's last two possessions. On a day that seemed to fit all the cliches of failure in Seahawks lore, Wilson decided to punch up the script and write a more interesting ending.

Seattle wouldn't lose again in the 2012 regular season, and they'd outscore their last four victims by an aggregate score of 170-43.One sobering note: Sidney Rice's winning touchdown takes on somber overtones now that he is out of football due to concussions sustained on plays like the final one in overtime that day.

1. 12/20/87 Seahawks 34, Bears 21
The Seahawks came to Chicago needing a win to clinch a spot in the playoffs. Considering that they faced a trip to Arrowhead the next week, Seattle's post-season hopes seemed dim. Not only was it a 10 am kickoff with the wind chill in the 20s, it was also the final regular season home game for the great Walter Payton. To the vast bulk of the football public, the Seahawks might as well have been wearing unis that said "Opponent" like Homer Simpson wore before he fought Drederick Tatum.

The Seahawks responded by delivering their best performance of that 1987 season. Walter Payton was held to 79 yards rushing; the Seattle defense, led by Brian Bosworth (who wasn't bad at all in '87), Eugene Robinson, and the Nash/Bryant/Green wall, forced 5 turnovers. Dave Krieg was basically flawless, Curt Warner scored twice, and John L. Williams delivered one of the greatest TDs in team history (1:45 mark of following clip).

What do you think, sirs?  

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