Seattle Sports Franchises: Seattle Seahawks
April 19, 2011 Leave a comment
Retired Numbers: #12 Fans (“The 12th Man”), #71 Walter Jones, #80 Steve Largent
Rivals: Arizona Cardinals, San Francisco 49ers, St. Louis Rams
The Seahawks franchise began in 1974, when the NFL granted the City of Seattle an expansion team. The Seahawks are the only NFL team to switch conferences twice in the post-merger era. The franchise began play in 1976 in the NFC West division but switched conferences with the Buccaneers after one season and joined the AFC West. This realignment was dictated by the league as part of the 1976 expansion plan, so that both expansion teams could play each other twice and every other NFL franchise once during their first two seasons. In 2002, the Seahawks were returned to the NFC West as part of an NFL realignment plan that gave each conference four balanced divisions of four teams each. This was done after the Houston Texans were added as the thirty-second team. This realignment restored the AFC West to its initial post-merger roster of original AFL teams Denver, San Diego, Kansas City, and Oakland.
On January 3, 1976, Jack Patera, who had been a Minnesota assistant coach, was named the team’s first head coach. The Seahawks finished 2-12 in 1976, when they played in the NFC, and 5-9 in 1977, when they moved into the AFC. The Seahawks had winning 9-7 records in both 1978 and 1979 and Patera was named NFL Coach of the Year the second year.
The strike-shortened 1982 season proved to be a transitional year for all of pro football, but no club fit the transitional description better than the Seahawks. Patera was removed after six-plus years as head coach. Mike McCormack finished the season as interim head coach and then was replaced in 1983 by Chuck Knox, who guided the Seahawks to an 83-67-0 record in nine seasons up through the 1991 campaign.
Knox led the Seahawks to the AFC championship game his first season. Seattle won an AFC West wild-card berth for the first time in its eight-year history and then knocked off Denver and Miami before losing to the Los Angeles Raiders 30-14 in the title game.
Once again in 1984, Knox guided the Seahawks to the playoffs with a 12-4 season. Seattle’s success came without ace running back Curt Warner, who led the AFC in rushing as a rookie in 1983 with 1,449 yards. Warner was injured in the first game and missed the rest of the season. Knox led Seattle back to the playoffs in 1987 and to the team’s only AFC Western division championship in 1988. That year, they lost to the eventual AFC champion, the Cincinnati Bengals, in the first playoff round.
The greatest individual star in Seahawks history, wide receiver Steve Largent, retired after the 1989 season as the NFL’s all-time leading receiver. At the time of his retirement, Largent held six all-time NFL receiving records. In 1995 he became the first Seahawk to be elected to the Hall of Fame.
During the 1988 season, Ken Behring purchased the majority ownership of the club from the Nordstrom family. On February 11, 1989, he named former Los Angeles Raiders head coach Tom Flores as the team’s new president and general manager. Three years later in January 1992, Flores was named the Seahawks new head coach. In nine seasons as the Raiders’ head man, Flores compiled a 91-56-0 record with victories in Super Bowls XV and XVIII. In 1995 Flores was replaced by Dennis Erickson, the highly-successful University of Miami coach.
The future of the Seahawks in the Pacific Northwest was secured after Paul Allen purchased the team in 1997 and two years later hired Mike Holmgren as their head coach. In 2001, the Seahawks played their final year in the Kingdome, and finally opened their state of the art stadium in 2002, moving back to the NFC West where they played their inaugural season in 1976, as part of the NFL’s realignment. In 2003, Seahawks Stadium was renamed to Qwest Field.
In 2005, the Seahawks won the NFC West with a 13-3 record and claimed the NFC championship to earn their first-ever Super Bowl berth. Seattle fell short in its bid for its first NFL title, losing to the Pittsburgh Steelers at Super Bowl XL in Detroit, Michigan on February 5, 2006 by a score of 21-10. Although the Seahawks outgained the Steelers, 396 yards to 339, and led in time of possession, those differences were erased after the first quarter in which Seattle could only muster a field goal. Pittsburgh won on the strength of three big plays converted for touchdowns, including the longest run in Super Bowl history. Seattle, on the other hand, was plagued by highly questionable penalties, dropped passes, and an interception during a drive deep into Pittsburgh territory.
The Seahawks repeated as NFC West champs in 2006 with a 9-7 record, enroute to hosting the Dallas Cowboys in the NFC Wildcard Playoffs, in which the Seahawks won 21-20 in exciting fashion. The Seahawks would fall 27-24 in overtime to the Chicago Bears in the Divisional round of the NFC playoffs.
The Seattle Seahawks finished the regular season with a 10-6 record, winning their fourth consecutive, NFC West title, and defeated the Washington Redskins 35-14 in the first round of the playoffs, to advance to an NFC Divisional Round Playoff game against the Green Bay Packers, where they were defeated 42-20.
After a few mediocre seasons, new head coach Pete Carroll was brought in during the 2009 offseason. Despite coming into the final week of the 2010 season with a 6-9 record, they were still eligible to a playoff spot thanks to the overall weakness of the NFC West, and thanks to the performance of backup QB Whitehurst, won the division title and the #4 playoff seed in the regular season finale by defeating the Rams 16-6, thus becoming the first division champion in NFL history to finish the season with a sub-.500 record.
In the playoffs, the Seahawks hosted the defending Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints in the Wild Card match-up, who had previously beaten the Seahawks 34-19 in Week 11. Though they fell behind by 10 points on two separate occasions during the game, a 4-touchdown performance by Hasselbeck and an electrifying 67-yard touchdown run by Marshawn Lynch late in the game propelled the Seahawks to a stunning 41-36 upset over the Saints. The Seahawks then travelled to Chicago for a rematch with the Bears in the divisional round, but things would not go nearly as well: thanks to two throwing TDs and two rushing TDs by Jay Cutler, the Bears jumped out to a 21-0 halftime lead and eventually defeated the Seahawks 35-24. It would mark the third time in five years that the Seahawks were eliminated in the divisional round, and the second time by the Bears.
Stay tuned tomorrow for a state of the franchise!