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The Seattle Seahawks are a professional American football team organized in 1976 and based in Seattle, Washington, USA. This article details the history of the Seattle Seahawks American Football Club.
As per one of the agreed parts of the 1970 AFL-NFL Merger, the NFL began planning to expand from 26 to 28 teams. On June 15, 1972 Seattle Professional Football Inc., a group of Seattle business and community leaders started by Herman Sarkowsky and Ned Skinner, announced its intention to acquire an NFL franchise for Seattle. Almost 2 years later on June 4, 1974, the NFL awarded the group an expansion franchise. On December 5, 1974, NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle announced the official signing of the franchise agreement by Lloyd W. Nordstrom, representing the Nordstrom family as majority partners for the consortium. Nordstrom died of a heart attack on January 20, 1976, just months before the Seahawks played their first game.
On March 5, 1975, John Thompson, a former University of Washington executive, was hired as the general manager of the yet-unnamed team. The name Seattle Seahawks was selected on June 17, 1975 after a public naming contest which drew more than 20,000 entries and over 1,700 different names. Thompson recruited and hired Jack Patera, a Minnesota Vikings assistant coach, to be the first head coach of the new team. Patera was introduced as the new head coach at a press conference on January 3, 1976. The expansion draft was held March 30 through the 31, 1976, with Seattle and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers alternating picks for 39 rounds selecting unprotected players from the other 26 teams in the league. The Seahawks were awarded the 2nd overall pick in the 1976 draft, a pick they used on defensive tackle Steve Niehaus. The team took the field for the first time on August 1, 1976 in a pre-season game against the San Francisco 49ers in the then brand new Kingdome.
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 realignment restored the AFC West to its initial post-merger roster of original AFL teams Denver, San Diego, Kansas City and Oakland.
Seattle has won eight division titles in their franchise history: the 1988 and 1999 AFC West titles, and the 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2010, and 2013 NFC West titles. They have won the NFC Championship Game once in 2005, and lost the AFC Championship Game once in 1983. Prior to 2005 Seattle had the longest drought of playoff victories of any NFL team, dating back to the 1984 season. That drought was ended with a 20-10 win over the Washington Redskins in the 2005 playoffs. The all-time Seahawks playoff record is 9-12.
The Seahawks had their biggest "win" before ever taking the field for a regular season game. On August 26, 1976 the Seahawks traded an eighth round pick in 1977 to the Houston Oilers for Steve Largent. The franchise's first win came on October 17 when they beat their expansion brethren Tampa Bay Buccaneers 13-10 at Tampa Bay. On November 7 they won their first game at home, 30-13 over the Atlanta Falcons. Those were the lone victories in an inaugural 2-12 season. However, the exciting play of Jim Zorn and Largent served notice of the entertainment to come.
In a reversal of the cunning that brought them Largent, the Seahawks traded their first round pick in 1977 to the Dallas Cowboys in exchange for a first and 3 second round draft picks. Dallas would select Tony Dorsett with the pick obtained from Seattle.
The 1977 season began with four straight losses before Tampa Bay came to town. The Seahawks won "Expansion Bowl II" by a score of 30-23. Two weeks later the season highlight happened on October 30 when quarterback Jim Zorn came back from missing four games with an injury to throw four touchdown passes in a 56-17 win over the Buffalo Bills at the Kingdome. The 1977 Seahawks would finish with a record of 5-9, to establish a then record for wins by a second year franchise.
In 1978, the Seahawks achieved their first winning season with a 9-7 record as WR Steve Largent finished second in the NFL with 1,168 receiving yards, Jack Patera was named NFL Coach of the Year and Jim Zorn was named AFC Player of the Year by the Touchdown Club of Washington, DC. Season highlights included becoming the first team since 1965 to sweep the Raiders (27-7 win at home and a 17-16 win in Oakland).
1979 saw the Seahawks attract a national following after their first Monday Night Football appearance on October 29, 1979. After trailing 14-0 against the Atlanta Falcons, Seattle battled back to win 31-28. A fake field goal pass from Zorn to kicker Efren Herrera led Howard Cosell to exclaim "the Seahawks are giving the nation a lesson in entertaining football!" The good vibe was short-lived, as the next week the Seahawks set an NFL record for the lowest total offense in one game (minus 7 yards) in a 24-0 loss to the Los Angeles Rams at the Kingdome. The team rebounded from that embarrassment to win 5 of their last 6 games, including a 30-7 victory over the New York Jets on MNF, to finish with a 9-7 record.
Great hopes after consecutive wins the crushed in 1980. The Seahawks lost their last 9 games to turn a 4-3 record into a 4-12 season. The collapse did enable the Seahawks to select safety Kenny Easley out of UCLA in the first round of the 1981 draft.
In 1981, the Seahawks lost five of their first six games on their way to a 6-10 record. Steve Largent had another stellar season with 1,224 receiving yards. Dave Krieg made his first career start in place of an injured Zorn on December 6, 1981, completing 20 of 26 passes in a 27-23 win over the Jets.
In the strike-shortened season of 1982, the Seahawks fired Patera after losing their first two games. Interim coach Mike McCormack would finish out the rest of the season and the Seahawks compiled a 4-5 record.
After a disappointing 1982 season (which was shortened because of a players' strike), the Seahawks moved interim coach Mike McCormack back into the front office and hired Chuck Knox as their head coach. In 1983, the Seahawks were battling for a playoff berth with a 6-6 record. Then in week 13, the Seahawks beat the Kansas City Chiefs 51-48 at the Kingdome to start their winning ways. They would win 2 of the next 3 games to earn their first ever playoff berth. In the wild-card playoffs the Seahawks shut down the Denver Broncos and their rookie quarterback John Elway 31-7. The next week at the Miami Orange Bowl the Seahawks drove 66 yards in 5 plays that ended with a game-winning touchdown for the Seahawks' 27-20 victory over the Miami Dolphins and their rookie quarterback Dan Marino. The Seahawks' miracle season ended in the AFC Championship Game as they lost to the eventual Super Bowl XVIII champion Los Angeles Raiders 30-14. Despite the 1983 season ending on a sour note, it was the first breakthrough season for the Seahawks. Curt Warner rushed for 1449 yards, scored 14 touchdowns, and was named AFC Rookie Of The Year. Chuck Knox was named AFC Coach Of The Year.
The first game of 1984 proved to be expensive, as Curt Warner suffered a season ending knee injury in the 33-0 win over the Cleveland Browns. Without Warner, the "Ground Chuck" offense became "Air Knox". Led by QB Dave Krieg, the Seahawks enjoyed a then franchise record 8-game winning streak and a 12-4 record. The Seahawk defense posts 3 shutouts. One of the shutouts occurred on November 4 where they beat the Chiefs 45-0 in a game highlighted by 4 touchdowns off interception returns (still an NFL record). A season ending 2-game losing streak cost them the division title and forced a wild card game against the Raiders. The Seahawks rode running back Dan Doornink and prevailed 13-7 in the team's last playoff victory for 21 years. The Hawks fell to the Super Bowl bound Miami Dolphins 31-10 in the divisional playoffs. Chuck Knox was named coach of the year a second year in a row.
The 1985 campaign was one of the most frustrating in the team's history. Seattle went through an alternating pattern of winning two games in a row and losing two in a row, to end at 8-8. Quarterback Dave Krieg passes for 3,602 yards on the season. A final game loss at home to Denver proved to be a microcosm of the season, as the Seahawks squandered an early lead and then had a potentially game-tying field goal attempt hit the upright as time expired.
The 1986 season is generally considered one of the "ones that got away". A 5-2 start was ruined by a 4-game losing streak. Improbably, the team then went on a roll that saw them win their final 5 games in convincing fashion. Included in the run were a 31-14 road victory over the Dallas Cowboys on Thanksgiving, a 37-0 shutout of the Los Angeles Raiders on Monday Night Football and a season ending 41-16 victory over the Super Bowl bound Denver Broncos. Despite a 10-6 record, the Seahawks failed to qualify for the playoffs due to a tiebreaker. They were the only team to beat both Super Bowl teams (Denver and the New York Giants) in 1986.
1987 began with great expectations and predictions of a Super Bowl appearance. The Seahawks had won a lottery for the first pick in a supplemental draft, and they selected Oklahoma University linebacker Brian Bosworth, the 1985 and 1986 Dick Butkus award winner. The 1987 team, like Bosworth, never did live up to expectations. After an early-season 24-day labor dispute, the team qualified for the playoffs as a wild card with a 9-6 record. A 23-20 overtime loss to the Houston Oilers in the playoffs was marred by a controversial call nullifying an apparent Fredd Young interception deep in Oilers territory in the sudden-death period.
In 1988, the team won its first AFC West division title, beating the Los Angeles Raiders 43-37 on the road to finish with a 9-7 record. The Seahawks lost 21-13 in the divisional playoffs to the Super Bowl bound Cincinnati Bengals. Also in 1988 Ken Behring purchased the club from the original owners, the Nordstrom Family. A year later he would name former Los Angeles Raiders head coach Tom Flores team president and general manager.
1989 saw the Seahawks fall to a 7-9 record. During the season, the overhyped and underperforming Brian Bosworth suffered a career-ending shoulder injury and would go on to become an actor. Also retiring was wide receiver Steve Largent, the last remaining player from the team's inaugural 1976 season.
These years would prove to be the most tumultuous of the franchise's history so far. 1991 would be Chuck Knox's last year as head coach of the Seahawks. After finishing with a 7-9 record, he resigned to rejoin the Los Angeles Rams. The year also saw Seattle make another bad draft choice in quarterback Dan McGwire, the brother of baseball star Mark McGwire. Widely expected to take over as starting QB, he struggled on the field and ultimately never got that position. The Seahawks held onto McGwire until 1995, then traded him to the Dolphins.
Team President/GM Tom Flores assumed the head coaching duties for the 1992 season. Longtime quarterback Dave Krieg was ousted in 1992 and replaced by three different quarterbacks (first-round pick Dan McGwire, Stan Gelbaugh and Kelly Stouffer). 1992 would also prove to be the Seahawks' worst year ever when they finished 2-14 and scoring just 140 points in the regular season. The Seattle offense proved to be historically inept, and the only bright spot for the 1992 season was defensive tackle Cortez Kennedy being declared NFL Defensive Player of the Year.
In 1993, the Seahawks drafted Rick Mirer out of the University of Notre Dame with the second pick in the draft, in hopes that he would be able to be the franchise's quarterback of the future. Mirer looked to be on his way to stardom as he shared the NFL's Offensive Rookie of the Year Award with former college teammate Jerome Bettis in his first season. The honeymoon soon turned sour as his inconsistent play in the following three seasons led to several benchings and eventually his departure in a trade to the Chicago Bears following the 1996 season.
In 1994, the Seahawks moved to nearby Husky Stadium on the campus of the University of Washington for the preseason and 3 regular season games after an acoustic tile fell inside the Kingdome. Upon returning to the Kingdome, the team finished with a 6-10 record; Tom Flores was replaced as president by David Behring, son of owner Ken Behring, and as head coach by University of Miami coach Dennis Erickson. The 1995 season was only average, with the Seahawks going 8-8, following by a 7-9 campaign in 1996.
In January 1996, Seahawks owner Ken Behring announced that he was moving the franchise to Los Angeles, where the team would play at Anaheim Stadium. Behring claimed safety concerns (specifically the building's structural integrity in the event of an earthquake) as his reason for breaking the team's lease with King County. However, seismologists found Behring's claims to be unproven. Also, the Los Angeles area is even more earthquake-prone than Seattle. Although Behring moved the team's operations to Anaheim, his plans for a full move were scuttled when lawyers discovered that the Seahawks were locked into the Kingdome through 2005. Having seen his effort to permanently relocate the franchise thwarted, Behring decided to sell. A potential buyer was found in Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, who reached an agreement to buy the club but only if a new stadium would be built. After funding a special state-wide election for stadium financing, a new stadium for the Seahawks was passed and Allen purchased the team.
Under the new ownership, Bob Whitsitt was installed as president of the club and big-name players such as Chad Brown, Warren Moon, and Ricky Watters were brought in raising hopes in Seattle that a page had been turned. What followed was more mediocrity as the club in 1997 and 1998 failed to get over the .500 mark with consecutive 8-8 marks. This led to head coach Dennis Erickson ultimately being fired at the end of the 1998 season. This period was not without its memorable moments, specifically Vinny Testaverde's "Phantom Touchdown" in a regular season game, a legendary officiating error that became a primary factor in the NFL's reinstatement of instant replay. The officiating error resulted in a 32-31 loss to the New York Jets.
The NFL officially apologized for the officiating error. Instant replay would be reinstated in the NFL the following season. Referee Phil Luckett, who made the touchdown call, was later reassigned at his request to back judge, and is also infamous for another controversial issue during the Thanksgiving game, November 26 involving the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Detroit Lions.
In 1999, the Seahawks made their biggest coaching hire with the appointment of Green Bay Packer head coach Mike Holmgren. Coming off his success with the Green Bay Packers, Holmgren was given the dual role of General Manager and Head Coach. The hiring brought instant credibility to the franchise as under Holmgren's guidance, the Seahawks won their second division title and first playoff berth since 1988. That year included a memorable 24-7 win over Holmgren's former team, the Green Bay Packers on Monday Night Football but despite a strong 8-2 start, the Seahawks lost 5 of their last 6 to close out the regular season. This skid continued on into the playoffs as the Seahawks lost the final game in the Kingdome 20-17 to Dan Marino and the Miami Dolphins in the AFC Wild Card round; the game proved to be Marino's only career road playoff win.
For the 2000-01 seasons the Seahawks moved to Husky Stadium while their new stadium was being built. The Seahawks drafted RB Shaun Alexander in 2000 as their RB of the future. The move to Husky Stadium could not halt the Seahawks' decline, as they finished a disappointing 6-10.
Holmgren then traded for Green Bay Packers backup QB Matt Hasselbeck and made him the starting QB. But Hasselbeck struggled in the first half of the 2001 season compiling a 5-7 record. Hasselbeck was replaced by former Super Bowl winner Trent Dilfer who steadied the ship and led the Seahawks to a 9-7 finish and a narrow playoff miss in the team's final season in the AFC.
Big changes were afoot in 2002. When the Seahawks left Husky Stadium at the end of the 2001 season they were part of the AFC West, but when they moved into Seahawks Stadium they were now part of the NFC West. This was because 2002 divisional realignment caused by the addition of the expansion team, the Houston Texans, and to keep traditional divisional rivalries, such as Dallas-Washington despite the Cowboys being further west than St. Louis. The year would prove to be one of ups-and-downs as Dilfer was injured in Week 7 and Hasselbeck became the starting QB. He would end the season on a 3-game winning streak, and Shaun Alexander led the NFC with 18 touchdowns. But the team finished with a 7-9 record and rumblings began over whether Holmgren was up to having dual roles as de facto General Manager and head coach.
Before the 2003 season, Holmgren relinquished his general manager duties so that he could concentrate exclusively on coaching the team. This move was especially hard for Holmgren as one of the factors for him leaving Green Bay was to step out of the shadow of long-time Packer-GM Ron Wolf. With their head coach focused solely on the coaching side, the Seahawks made the playoffs as a wild card with a 10-6 record and finished with an impressive 8-0 mark at home. The Seahawks would face Holmgren's former team, the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field. The Seahawks came out strong but blew several opportunities (including a crucial endzone drop by receiver Koren Robinson) and were forced to go to overtime. It was during the coin-flip where quarterback Hasselbeck made the prediction "we want the ball, and we're going to score." Unfortunately for Seattle, an Al Harris interception returned for a TD sealed the Seahawks fate and they were out of the playoffs again.
The Seahawks entered the 2004 season with lofty expectations. Publications such as Sports Illustrated predicted that the team would represent the NFC in Super Bowl XXXIX. The Seahawks started off strongly, going 3-0 including a 34-0 shutout of the lowly San Francisco 49ers at home. The season would take a dramatic turn for the worse, however, when the Seahawks blew a 27-10 lead late in the fourth quarter to their division-rivals, the St. Louis Rams. Trailing 27-10 late in the fourth quarter, the Rams scored to pull within ten with 5:34 remaining on the clock. This was followed by a 41-yard TD pass to Kevin Curtis, making the score 27-24. After the Seahawks failed to convert on a critical third down, leaving 1:14 on the game clock, the Rams tied the game on the ensuing possession, sending the game into overtime. In the extra period, the Rams won the game on a stunning 52-yard touchdown catch by Shaun McDonald. The Seahawks never fully recovered from the shocking loss and went on to win only six of their last twelve games.
The Seahawks had another memorable fourth quarter meltdown against the Cowboys on Monday Night Football. As Seattle led 39-28 late in the fourth quarter, Vinny Testaverde completed a touchdown pass to Keyshawn Johnson, leaving 1:45 on the game clock. Jason Witten recovered the ensuing onside kick, and Julius Jones was heavily featured in the Cowboys' 57-yard drive to win the game. Jones finished with a game-high 198 rushing yards for the night.
The Seahawks would win their first NFC West title with a 28-26 win over the Atlanta Falcons in the final regular season game. The team's celebrations were overshadowed by bickering between Holmgren and RB Shaun Alexander, stemming from Holmgren's decision to bench Alexander for precautionary reasons midway through the team's final game of the season. Alexander would miss the 2004 rushing title by a single yard, with the honor instead going to New York Jets RB Curtis Martin. The Seahawks ended their 2004 season by losing to the Rams 27-20 in the NFC Wild Card game in Seattle, the first playoff game at Qwest Field. The Seahawks lost all three games against divisional rival St. Louis in the 2004 season
The 2005 season saw them advance to the Super Bowl for the first time in the team's history. They were the NFC representative in Super Bowl XL, a game they lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Seahawks compiled a 13-3 record in the regular season, easily winning the NFC West and clinching home field advantage in the NFC playoffs. There, they beat the Washington Redskins and Carolina Panthers to win the George Halas Trophy and advance to the Super Bowl, the first in franchise history.
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 controversial penalty calls made during Super Bowl XL were met with criticism from both fans and members of the media, many of whom suggested that the officials had wrongly nullified several key plays made by the Seattle offense. Jason Whitlock encapsulated the views of a few when he wrote the day after the game, "Leavy and his crew ruined Super Bowl XL. Am I the only one who would like to hear them defend their incompetence?"  In response to the criticisms, NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said in a statement, "The game was properly officiated, including, as in most NFL games, some tight plays that produced disagreement about the calls made by the officials."  The game ended a playoff season that was plagued by complaints about officiating.
Seahawks head coach Mike Holmgren fueled the debate upon returning to Seattle, saying during a Seahawks rally, "We knew it was going to be tough going up against the Pittsburgh Steelers. I didn't know we were going to have to play the guys in the striped shirts as well."  Al Michaels, commented during a Sunday Night Football game a few months later, "The fact that Holmgren was not fined for that statement speaks volumes to me." Michaels explained he was alluding to Holmgren's need to "blow off steam," but also suggested a perceived admission by the NFL that something went wrong in that game. Both Michaels and John Madden noted Seattle's mistakes, such as poor clock management at the end of each half.
"It was a tough thing for me. I kicked two calls in the fourth quarter and I impacted the game and as an official you never want to do that. It left me with a lot of sleepless nights and I think about it constantly. I'll go to my grave wishing that I'd been better. I know that I did my best at that time, but it wasn't good enough. When we make mistakes, you got to step up and own them. It's something that all officials have to deal with, but unfortunately when you have to deal with it in the Super Bowl it's difficult."
The Seahawks repeated as NFC West champs with a 9-7 record; their season included a 34-24 pounding of the Green Bay Packers on Monday Night Football and a pair of two-point wins over the St. Louis Rams. The Seahawks hosted the Dallas Cowboys in the NFC Wildcard Playoffs; trailing 20-13 the Seahawks pounced on a botched Tony Romo throw to Terry Glenn in Dallas' endzone for a safety, then scored on a 37-yard Hasselbeck touchdown. The Cowboys drove downfield but on the ensuing field goal attempt Romo (the holder) blew the snap and was stopped in his rush to the endzone. A desperate last-second Romo throw was batted down and the Seahawks won 21-20. 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.
The Seattle Seahawks made little noise in free agency, although they did address their need for change at running back, by cutting oft-injured former league MVP Shaun Alexander and signing both speedster Julius Jones from the Dallas Cowboys and the more powerful T.J. Duckett from the Detroit Lions. A major free agency casualty was suffered, however, when kicker Josh Brown, who hit 6 last minute game winning field goals in his 5 year Seahawks career (including 4 during the 2006 season, an NFL single season record), left for the division-rival St. Louis Rams. It was also announced that this season, which would be Holmgren's tenth as head coach, would also be his last; defensive backs coach Jim L. Mora (the son of former New Orleans Saints and Indianapolis Colts head coach Jim E. Mora) would replace Holmgren at season's end.
Injuries plagued the team from the very outset, with receivers Deion Branch and Bobby Engram both missing the first three games and Nate Burleson suffering a season-ending knee injury in the first game, a 34-10 loss to the Buffalo Bills. Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck was also hounded by a back injury, which forced him off the field for a total of nine games, contributing to a six-game losing streak during the second half of the season. Although the Seahawks won two of their last three games, including a 13-3 victory over the New York Jets in Holmgren's last home game at Qwest Field, the team would finish third in the NFC West and end up with a record of 4-12, the worst the franchise had seen since 1992.
The 2009 offseason began with Jim L. Mora taking over the head coaching job over Holmgren. A big splash was made in the free agency market when the Seahawks managed to land talented wide receiver T. J. Houshmandzadeh from the Cincinnati Bengals and All-Pro running back Edgerrin James from division rival Arizona. In the draft, the Seahawks used their 4th overall pick on linebacker Aaron Curry from Wake Forest University, and sought to bolster their offensive line in the second round with 49th overall pick Max Unger.
Despite an undefeated preseason record and a 28-0 shutout of the Rams in the first week, things quickly began to unravel when Matt Hasselbeck again found himself sidelined after a hit by Patrick Willis in a Week 2 matchup against the 49ers left him with fractured ribs. Backup Seneca Wallace went 0-2 as his replacement, including a heartbreaking 25-19 loss to the Chicago Bears in which kicker Olindo Mare missed two field goal attempts. Though they were on the fringes of the playoff hunt all the way up to Week 13, the team's season ended on four straight losses, three of which were blowouts against the Houston Texans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Green Bay Packers. Meanwhile, general manager Tim Ruskell resigned late in the season when he could not be guaranteed an extension at the end of the year. Though finishing with a slightly better record than the previous season at 5-11, it was not enough for Mora to save his job, as his controversial calling-out of Mare after the Chicago loss and questioning the toughness of injured first-string center Chris Spencer caused a backlash among fans, and he was fired at the end of the season to make room for new head coach Pete Carroll.
Pete Carroll took over as the Seahawks head coach in 2010.
Thanks to a trade with the Denver Broncos the previous year, the Seahawks had two first-round picks in the draft, which they used to select LT Russell Okung from Oklahoma State University and S Earl Thomas from the University of Texas. Their second-round pick was used to draft WR Golden Tate from Notre Dame University. Among the many roster moves the team made included signing RB Leon Washington, DE Raheem Brock, and WR Mike Williams; releasing WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh, RB Julius Jones and FB Owen Schmitt. The Seahawks would also trade for backup QB Charlie Whitehurst during the off season, and RB Marshawn Lynch in Week 5.
The team got off to a promising 4-2 start, with Washington returning two kickoffs for touchdowns in Week 3 for a 27-20 win over the San Diego Chargers and the Seahawks defense causing six sacks of Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler in a Week 5 23-20 win. The team displayed plenty of weaknesses, however, and each of Seattle's losses during the regular season would come by no fewer than 15 points. Blowout losses included a two-week stretch against the Oakland Raiders and New York Giants where the team was outscored 78-10. Despite coming into the final week of the season with a 6-9 record, they were still eligible to a playoff spot thanks to the extreme weakness of the NFC West, and Whitehurst's backup performance in their regular season finale against the St. Louis Rams was enough to clinch the NFC West championship with a 16-6 win, making the Seahawks the first division champion in NFL history to finish the season with a losing 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 (two to Brandon Stokely) 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 game also was noteworthy for a small earthquake produced by the enormous noise generated by fans at Qwest Field. It was also Hasselbeck's final game there, where he had played from 2001-2010.
The Seahawks then traveled to Chicago for a rematch with the Bears in the divisional round, but as most experts predicted, the latter won the game easily: thanks to two passing 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.
In 2011, the Seahawks let Hasselbeck go and made free agent acquisition Tavaris Jackson their starting quarterback. The Seahawks opened 2-6 and then went on a 5-1 run capped by a big win in Chicago by a score of 38-14 pulling their record to 7-7. But, the Hawks lost a home game against San Francisco 19-17 and then lost at Arizona in OT. So, the team finished 7-9 which, unlike the previous year, wasn't enough to get them into the playoffs.
During the offseason, the Seahawks changed their logo and uniforms. The team signed former Green Bay Packers backup quarterback Matt Flynn to replace departing quarterback Tarvaris Jackson, and also drafted rookie QB Russell Wilson as the 75th pick in the third round of the 2012 NFL Draft. Though Flynn was signed with the intention of being the starter for the 2012 season, Wilson's preseason performances were impressive enough that coach Carroll decided to name Wilson the starter for Week 1 against Arizona.
The season started sluggishly. The team went 2-2 in the first four games, including a controversial 14-12 Monday night win in Week 3 over the Packers in which the sloppy officiating by replacement referees caused enough of a media outcry to convince the NFL and its Referees Association to reach a deal. Although the Seahawks would reach the end of Week 12 with a middling 6-5 record, signs of a breakout by Russell Wilson were apparent in a come-from-behind victory over the New England Patriots in Week 6, and two convincing wins over the Minnesota Vikings and New York Jets in consecutive weeks.
The Week 13 game on the road against the Chicago Bears was a turning point in the season for the Seahawks. Down 14-10 late in the fourth quarter, Wilson orchestrated a 97-yard touchdown drive to take the lead, and when Chicago tied the game at the end of regulation, Seattle drove the ball another 80 yards in the first possession of overtime to seal a 23-17 win. From there, the Seahawks went on a rampage, winning its next three games against the Arizona Cardinals, Buffalo Bills, and San Francisco 49ers by a combined score of 150-30. They finished the season with an 11-5 record - their best since the 2005 season - and qualified for the playoffs as the Wild Card. as the 49ers' 11-4-1 record edged the Seahawks out for the NFC West title.
Their Wild Card game was played in Washington, DC, against the Washington Redskins. Despite falling behind early in the first quarter by a score of 14-0, the Seahawks scored 24 unanswered points in the second and fourth quarters to win 24-14. It was their first road playoff win since 1983. They then travelled to Atlanta to play the Divisional playoff game against the Atlanta Falcons. Once again, the Seahawks found themselves down big early, taking a 20-0 deficit to the locker room at halftime. A frantic fourth-quarter comeback allowed them to take the lead 28-27 with less than a minute to go in the game, but the Falcons were able to mount a quick drive and score a field goal with under 10 seconds left, and the Seahawks lost by the score of 30-28.
Highlights of the season include Russell Wilson starting all games for Seattle, becoming the first rookie quarterback since Jim Zorn in their inaugural season to do so. Wilson finished the year tying the record for TD passes by a rookie quarterback with 26, a record he now shares with Peyton Manning. His three TD runs in the Week 15 game against the Bills was also a franchise record. Wilson would receive an invitation to the 2013 Pro Bowl, along with RB Marshawn Lynch, OT Russell Okung, C Max Unger, FS Earl Thomas, and KR Leon Washington.
In the offseason, the Seahawks looked to bolster their pass rush through free agency, signing DL Michael Bennett from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Cliff Avril of the Detroit Lions. They also acquired WR Percy Harvin in a trade with the Minnesota Vikings for Seattle's first-round draft pick in the 2013 draft. Despite not having a first-round pick, the Seahawks managed to make 11 picks in the draft, including RB Christine Michael in the 2nd round, TE Luke Willson in the 5th round, and OT Michael Bowie in the 7th round. Departures included RB Leon Washington who was released in the offseason, and FB Michael Robinson who was cut during training camp, but would return to the team after injuries to Derrick Coleman and Spencer Ware.
The Seahawks got out to a fast start in the regular season, winning their first four games for the first time in franchise history. Wins during this stretch included a 29-3 trouncing of the San Francisco 49ers in Week 2, and an overtime win over the Houston Texans in Week 4 in which CB Richard Sherman returned an interception 58 yards to tie the game late in regulation. Their first loss was a 34-28 defeat in Week 5 at the hands of the Indianapolis Colts, notable for a blocked field goal attempt by kicker Steven Hauschka that was returned by the Colts for a touchdown. Injuries to many of the starting offensive line players caused difficulties in the middle of the season, with LT Russell Okung and RT Breno Giacomini both missing long stretches of time, and although Percy Harvin dazzled the crowd with an acrobatic catch and a long punt return in the game against his former team in Week 11, a nagging hip injury kept him off the field for the rest of the season. Despite these setbacks, the Seahawks managed to rattle off seven straight wins, taking control of the conference in Week 13 with a 34-7 blowout of the New Orleans Saints where the home crowd set a new Guinness World Record for loudest outdoor stadium with a 137.6 decibel reading at one point during the game, reclaiming the record from the Kansas City Chiefs who had broken the record in Week 6. Although the Seahawks were the first team to clinch a playoff berth, losses to the 49ers and Cardinals in weeks 14 and 16 prevented them from clinching the division until the end of the season. Fortunately, the Seahawks would defeat the St. Louis Rams handily in the regular season finale by a score of 27-9, clinching their second NFC West championship since Pete Carroll became head coach, as well as wrapping up homefield advantage throughout the NFC playoffs with the #1 seed.
Their first playoff game was played on January 11th against the New Orleans Saints, in a rematch of both the Week 13 regular season game as well as the 2011 Wild Card game. Once again, the Seahawks prevailed on the back of a late rushing touchdown by Marshawn Lynch, and staved off a furious comeback attempt by the Saints to win 23-15.
The Seahawks' 13-3 regular season record ties the second time in franchise history the team has won 13 regular season games (the previous time being in 2005). Other franchise milestones achieved this season include their best ever 12-game start (11-1), as well as the first time the team has won 11 or more games in back-to-back seasons. In addition, six Seahawks were named to the 2014 Pro Bowl as a result of their performances: QB Russell Wilson, RB Marshawn Lynch, C Max Unger, CB Richard Sherman, SS Kam Chancellor and FS Earl Thomas.
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