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 Brees 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 Brees 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 Shaun 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