While this season may not make some people’s top ten lists, it makes mine with an exclamation point because it marked a new era of Seahawks football. That new era has been defined by coach Pete Carroll’s unapologetic attitude. He didn’t apologize for making the playoffs with a losing record just like he didn’t apologize after a controversial Monday Night Football win against Green Bay two years later.
Pete Carroll understands that the NFL is a game, and that there is a system in place. Most importantly, he understands how to compete within the system.
The season started out with promising play on defense, excellent play on special teams, and pitiful play on offense “led” by running back Julius Jones who was never able to repeat the fine performances he had as a Dallas Cowboy in the games they played in Seattle.
In fact, the Seahawks opened the season with a 31-6 crushing of the San Francisco 49ers. They went on to a modest 4-2 record before dropping seven of their last nine games. The Seahawks also completed an important mid-season trade for running back Marshawn Lynch whose addition was almost too late.
Fortunately for the Seahawks, the Cardinals were horrible without Kurt Warner, the 49ers failed to meet any and all expectations, and the Rams looked like an up and coming team, but after their first fifteen games they were 7-8. The Seahawks were 6-9.
As fate would have it, the two teams met in the final game of the regular season with the division championship and a berth in the playoffs on the line. If the Rams won they would be 8-8, if the Seahawks won they would be 7-9 and the first team to make the playoffs with a losing record in NFL history.
One of the more controversial off season decisions by the new Pete Carroll/John Schnieder regime had been to pay $8 million for perennial backup quarterback Charlie Whitehurst. With Matt Hasselbeck injured, Carrol started Clipboard Jesus (aka Whitehurst) in Week 17.
While Whitehurst did not revolutionize the quarterback position, he did win the playoff clinching game against the Rams by not messing up a conservative game plan. While the question of whether that win alone was worth $8 million is debatable, it sure was an impactful win.
In the first round of the playoffs, the Seahawks won an epic shootout against the Drew Breese led New Orleans Saints 41-36. It included one of Matt Hasselbeck’s finest performances, and one of the most memorable runs in Seahawks History: Marshawn Lynch’s Tecmobowlesque 67 yard run for the game clinching touchdown.
In the Divisional round, the Seahawks faced the Chicago Bears in Chicago. The game got off to an ugly start with twenty-one unanswered Bears points. Perhaps tight end John Carlson’s falling on the frozen sideline and exiting the game with an injury summed up that game best. Though the Seahawks fought to get back in the game late, the Bears took care of buisiness and the Seahawks’ unlikely playoff run was over with a 35-24 loss.
By The Numbers:
Regular Season Record: 7-9 (NFC West Champions)
Playoff record: 1-1
Points for: 310
Points against: 407
Turn overs forced: 22
Turn overs allowed: 31
Notable Opponents and Games:
Week 3: Antonio Gates TE San Diego Chargers vs. Leon Washington KR Seattle. Gates padded his already impressive resume with seven receptions for 107 yards and a touchdown that could have been the game winner had Leon Washington not returned the kickoff ninety-nine yards for a touchdown. Earlier in the game, Washington had a 101 yard kick off return for a touchdown. This was a game that proved just how important special teams play is.
Week 6: Devin Hester PR Chicago Bears. Chicago’s legendary return man scored the final touchdown of the game with an eighty-nine yard punt return. Fortunatley for the Seahawks, a key third-quarter sack of Jay Cutler for a safety by Jordan ”Big Play Babs” Babineaux put the Seahawks up by more than a two-point conversion. 23-20 Seahawks.
Week 11: Matt Hasselbeck vs. Drew Breese Part I. Both quarterbacks threw well in a shootout that was closer than the score suggested. Hasselbeck was 32/44, 366 yds., 1 TD, 0 INT. Breese was 29/43, 382 yds., 4 TD 2 INT. Saints 34-19
Week 10: Bruce Smith DE Washington. In Bruce Smith’s final season, he recorded one of his last sacks against the Seahawks. However, the Seahawks won the game 27-20.
Week 15: Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Bucks crushed the Seahawks 38-15 to improve their record to 9-6. The Buccaneers missed the playoffs that year with a 10-win season. Nobody in Seattle cared.
Offensive Standout: Marshawn Lynch RB came to Seattle in a mid-season trade, and hit the ground running. From the start was clear that the Seahawks had finally ended their drought of star running backs. After being spoiled with the likes of Curt Warner, John L. Williams, Chris Warren, Rickey Watters, and Sean Alexander, it was a miserable wait that was rewarded with a truly exciting player.
Defensive Standout: Red Bryant DE. Though he spent most of the season on the DL, Red Bryant’s presence on the defensive line in the early weeks showed glimpses of things to come. Pete Carroll moved Bryant from DT to DE. The move was questioned by many, but proved a success.
Telling Stat of the Season: Marshawn Lynch led all Seahawks with only six touchdowns.
Notable Draft Picks: Russell Okung LT, Earl Thomas DB, Golden Tate WR, and Kam Chancellor DB all have been standouts at times with the Seahawks.
Super Bowl Champion: Greenbay Packers 31 Pittsburgh Steelers 25
My countdown continues with the 2004-2005 season. In case you were wondering, that picture to the right is no mistake. Jerry Rice did in fact play in one season for the Seattle Seahawks. In 2004 Rice requested a mid-season trade from the Raiders and ended up on a Seahawks squad that was looking for a veteren presence in their recieving corps. While he did not have a huge impact, it was fun to have him in Seattle for a season.
Hopefully, 2004 will one day be bounced out of the top 10, but until it is, this is what we have. 2004 was a bitter sweet year for the Seahawks. They won the NFC West for the second time under Mike Holmgren, earning the title on the last game of the season with a dramatic 4th quarter two-point conversion stop against Atlanta.
As fate would have it, Seattle earned the 4th seed in the playoffs with a 9-7 record. St. Louis squeaked in to the playoffs with an 8-8 record good enough for a 5th seed match against the Seahawks. The Minnesota Vikings also finished with an 8-8 record, but St. Louis won the tie breaker with a superior conference record. Earlier in the season, Seattle had lost twice to St. Louis. What looked like a final chance to finish off an inferior yet pesky opponent turned sour from the start. The Rams jumped out to an early lead setting the stage for a Seattle comeback.
The Seahawks did manage to take the lead in the fourth quarter, but gave up a tying field goal, and game winning touchdown to the Marc Bulger-led rams in the 4th quarter. Sadly, not even the 12th Man could give the Seahawks that little boost they needed to finish off the Rams.
Despite the overall disappointment of this season, and the subpar season point differential of -2, this team beat out the ’99 squad because it did not suffer the second half collapse, and it was the first of four straight NFC West titles for the Seahawks. That, and it was the only one of the three remaining candidates that didn’t include Brian Bosworth on the roster.
By The Numbers:
Regular Season Record: 9-7 (AFC West Champion)
Playoff record: 0-1 (4 seed)
Points for: 371
Points against: 373
Turn overs forced: 35
Turn overs allowed: 27
Noteable opponetns and games:
Week 5: St. Louis Rams –The Rams team that included Marc Bulger, Issac Bruce, Torrey Holt, Marshall Faulk, and Steven Jackson simply had Seattle’s number. They won 33-27 in OT week 5, 23-12 in week 10, and 27-20 in the Wild Card Round. Shaun Alexander averaged over 132 yards per game against the Rams that season, but the Seahawks couldn’t find the end zone enough to match Marc Bulger’s passing attack.
Week 6: Tom Brady – New England QB The Seahawks lost to the eventual Super Bowl champions 20-30. Tom Brady completed passes to 8 different receivers and UW’s Correy Dillon ran for 105 yards.
Week 7: Emmit Smith – Arizona RB Emmit Smith recorded his final 100-yard rushing game with 106 yards against the Seahawks in a 25-17 Cardinals victory including the final touchdown of the game.
Week 11: Wes Welker – Miami Special Teams In 2004, Welker played for three different teams and didn’t catch a pass. In the game against Seattle, Welker returned 4 kicks and 3 punts for a total of 124 yards. The Seahawks won the game 24-17.
Week 12: Drew Bledsoe Buffalo – QB and ex-WSU Cougar Bledsoe threw for 275 yards, a TD and 3 INT’s. Willis McGahee ran for 116 yards and 4 TD’s on route to a 38-9 romp by the Bills.
Week 13: Shootout against the Cowboys The Seahawks lost a high octane Monday Night Football game 43-39 against the Dallas cowboys. Julius Jones of the Cowboys ran for 198 and 3 TDs yards. Jerry Rice of the Seahawks caught 8 passes for 145 yards and 1 TD, proving that he was still a solid contributer even in his later years as a player.
Week 14: Randy Moss – Minnesota WR The Seahawks survived a 4-catch, 104-yard, 1 TD performance by Randy Moss en route to a 27-23 victory. Behind Matt Hasselbeck’s 334 yards, and two second half field goals by Josh Brown the Seahawks secured the win.
Week 17: Michael Vick – Atlanta QB This was the season that Michael Vick took the Falcons to the NFC Championship game. Allthough Vick rested for most of the game, he would then go on to lead the Falcons to a win against the St. Louis Rams in the NFC divisional round. It was perhaps the only time that a large number of Seahawks fans have ever rooted for Michael Vick.
Offensive Standout: Shaun Alexander – 1,866 total yards, 20 total TD’s
Defensive Standout: Ken Lucas – 63 solo tackles, 8 assists, 6 INT, 1 pic 6, 1 forced fumbles.
Team Stat of the year: +8 turn over differential
Notable Draft Picks: Sean Locklear OT
That Year’s Super Bowl: XXIX New England Patriots 20 Philadelphia Eagles 17