The 2003 Seahawks season was a good one that ended somewhat comically and somewhat tragically. It was their first trip to the playoffs since the 1999 season, they went 10-6 in the regular season and finished second in the division to San Francisco, earning a wild card berth. It was the second playoff season of Mike Holmgren’s tenure and first of five straight. The season ended with a memorable playoff match up with Brett Favre and the Green Bay Packers; Mike Holmgren’s former team, and Matt Hasselbeck’s former mentor.
The season also featured consistent play that was aided by one of the better draft classes in franchise history. Marcus Trufant, Ken Hamlin, and Josh Brown who led the team in points were all drafted that season.
In the wild card round, the Seahawks had to travel to Lambeau Field, a place where no visiting team had ever won in the postseason. There was some confidence and swagger to the Seahawks going in to that game. Many people thought that there was a chance that they could pull off the upset.
I remember this game clearly because I was living in Madison, Wisconsin at the time, and was watching the game in a house with a group of Packer fans. The Seahawks took the early lead in the game but that would soon change. In all, there were ten lead changes (including tied scores). The final touchdown of regulation was scored by Shaun Alexander with a 1-yard TD run. Ryan Longwell missed a 47-yard field goal attempt for Green Bay that sent the game in to overtime.
Things were looking good. The Seahawks won the coin toss, and the official asked Hasselbeck if the Seahawks wanted to return or defer.
Hasselbeck infamously answered, “We want the ball and we’re gonna score.”
Well, Seattle did receive the ball, but they only managed a three-and-out. Then the defense held Green Bay to a three-and-out. On the third drive of overtime, Hasselbeck completed two 6-yard passes, one to Darrell Jackson, and one to Koren Robinson for a first down. A few plays later on a 3rd and 11 pass, Green Bay corner back Al Harris picked off the ball and ran it 52 yards for the game winning TD.
Green Bay would go on to give up a big lead in a loss to the Philadelphia Eagles in the divisional round. That game was highlighted by Donovan McNabb’s game-saving 28-yard completion on a 4th and 26 play in the fourth quarter.
By The Numbers:
Regular Season Record: 10-6 (NFC Wild Card 5th Seed)
Playoff record: 0-1
Points for: 404
Points against: 327
Turn overs forced: 28
Turn overs allowed: 29
Week 1: Ernie Conwell TE New Orleans and former Washington Husky. Conwell was not a factor with only 4 catches for 38 yards. The Seahawks opened the season with a 27-10 victory.
Week 8: Jon Kitna QB Cincinnati. Kitna beat his former team 27-24. This was a back and forth game that was decided by Kitna throwing a game winning, 53-yard TD pass to Chad Johnson. Were it not for three Hasselbeck interceptions, and two lost Seahawks fumbles, things may have been different.
Week 9: Tommy Maddox QB Pittsburgh and XFL champion. Both teams played turnover-free football. The Seahawks won after scoring 14 4th-quarter points. 23-16.
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 12: Jamal Lewis RB Baltimore. Lewis ran for 2,066 yards that year. 117 of those yards came against the Seahawks. It was the one of the five times the Seahawks faced a running back on his way to 2,000 yards (Davis twice, Jamal Lewis, Chris Johnson, and Adrian Peterson).
Week 14: Randy Moss WR Minnesota. 8 receptions, 133 yards, and 2 TD for Moss in this game. It was the most lopsided loss of the season for the Seahawks. 34-7. Coincidentally, the week before, the Seahawks beat the Cleveland Browns by the same score.
Offensive Standout: Matt Hasselbeck. He distributed the ball well and gave the team a chance to win every week.
Defensive Standout: Marcus Trufant. In his rookie year, Trufant had two interceptions, one fumble recovery, 74 tackles, 9 assists, and an impressive 20 passes defenced.
Telling Stat of the Season: -1 turnover margin.
Notable Draft Picks: Marcus Trufant DB, Ken Hamlin DB, Seneca Wallace QB, Josh Brown K, and Taco Wallace WR (he was a bust, but got fifteen minutes of fame because his name is Taco).
Super Bowl Champion: New England 32, Carolina 29*
*This was the year that He Hate Me from the XFL played in the Super Bowl