FanPost

1993 Season in Review: What a difference two decades makes

Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Spor

Eugene-robinson_medium

via seahawknationblog.com

This is my first attempt at a Fanpost, so please excuse me while I whip this trip through memory lane out. It was twenty years ago today that the Seahawks were still trying to play. They had been going in and out of style with Seattle fans, and the play of the 1993 team wasn’t exactly guaranteed to raise a smile. So let’s take the WABAC machine back to the 1993 season.

In 1993, Bill Clinton was starting his first term as president of the United States, River Phoenix died of a drug overdose at the age of 23, the California Milk Processor Board debuted the phrase "Got Milk?", and the Toronto Blue Jays, expansion sisters of the 1977 Seattle Mariners, were winning the second of their back-to-back World Series championships, something the Mariners wouldn’t even win once until the year 2525.

However, the Lou Piniella-led Mariners did manage their second .500 or better season in just their 17th year of existence. The SuperSonics, led by Shawn Kemp, Gary Payton, Detlef Schrempf, Kendall Gill, Sam Perkins, and Ricky Pierce, would jump out to a 26-3 start, finish with the best record in the NBA at 63-19, win the first two games of their opening series against the #8 seed Denver Nuggets, and then proceed to lose three straight games, becoming the first #1 seed in NBA history to lose a playoff series to the #8 seed.

Meanwhile, over in the NFL, Jimmy Johnson, Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith, and the ‘Boys were on their way to mirroring the Jays by winning the second of their back-to-back Super Bowl championships while handing the Buffalo Bills their third of four consecutive Super Bowl losses.

But for the Seattle Seahawks, hard times were spreading just like the flu. It was the middle of the Ken Behring era, a nine year period of fan frustration that saw the Hawks go 61-83, only finish above .500 twice (years one and three of that period) and go to the playoffs just once, losing the divisional game in the first year of Behring’s reign of terror to Ickey Woods and the Cincinnati Bengals. It was in February of 1996, Behring’s last year of ownership, in a move inspired by former professional sports franchise owner, "Proud to be your" Bud Selig, that the Seahawks were loaded moving vans away from becoming the Los Angeles Seahawks of Anaheim.

It was also the second year of the reign of Tom Flores, two-time Super Bowl champion coach of the hated, division-rival Oakland/Los Angeles/Irwindale Raiders. Tom had overseen the 1992 Seattle squad that set the franchise record for futility with a 2-14 record, led by the illustrious trio of Stan Gebaugh, Kelly Stouffer, and Dan "The Man" McGwire. This three-headed beast put up point totals of 0 (twice), 3 (thrice), 6 (twice), and 7 (once).

The 1992 team recorded a season-high 17 points, once in a regulation loss to Miami, and again in an overtime loss to Philadelphia. Amazingly enough, Flores would keep Larry Kennan, his Offensive Coordinator, throughout all three of his years as head coach. Kennan, who put the "offensive" in offensive coordinator, actually resurfaced for one year in 1997 as the offensive coordinator for the Pete Carroll-led New England Patriots. But suffice to say, the fans were already missing Chuck Knox.

It was with much anticipation, that the 1993 season began for Seahawks fans. 1992 was in the rear-view mirror, and the fans got a chance to see firsthand, the second coming of Joe Montana, the 23-year old Rick Mirer, drafted #2 overall out of Notre Dame, behind Wazzu’s Drew Bledsoe. Mirer would finish second in offensive rookie of the year balloting behind Jerome Bettis, his Notre Dame teammate, who was picked eight spots behind him at #10 by the Los Angeles Rams.

For Mirer, 1993 was the pinnacle of his career, setting then NFL rookie records of 486 passes, 274 completions and 2,833 yards. Bettis on the other hand, would finish his career with nearly 2,000 more yards rushing than Mirer had for his career passing total. The only worthwhile Seattle pick of the draft was seventh round pick, Michael McCrary, who recorded 4 sacks and two forced fumbles in limited playing time. After finally getting a chance to play under Dennis Erickson, McCrary recorded 13.5 sacks for the 1996 Seahawks. He promptly bolted for Baltimore the next season, where he became an all-pro defensive end.

The Seahawks were in the AFC West, where they had been since season number two in 1977. The 1976 team actually played in the NFC West, their current home. Seattle would not return to the NFC West until 2002, displacing the Carolina Panthers. The season started inauspiciously enough with an opening road loss to their AFC West division rival San Diego Chargers in San Diego 18-12 behind six John Carney field goals.

Second round pick Carlton Gray from UCLA would notch his first career interception. In eight NFL seasons, he would retire with a career total of 12. Game 2 would see them lose 17-13 in their home opener to the Jeff Hostetler-led Raiders, who would finish the season 10-6, going two deep into the playoffs. The results so far weren’t any better, but the scores were competitive, a true step up from the previous year. Game three was a 17-14 win over the hapless Patriots in Foxboro.

Do you remember those days? The hapless, fricking New England Patriots! No longer were they owned by Victor Kiam, the man who loved his Remington razor blades so much that he bought the company. He had sold the hapless Patriots after the 1991 season, deciding that he hated the team so much that he needed to sell it. But the young Seattle team led 17-0 after 3 quarters, and a win is a win, especially on the road.

Game 4 was on the road again against the even more hapless Cincinnati Bengals. This was the third road game for Seattle, which was going places that I've never been and seeing things that I may never see again, including quarterback David Klingler whose college success with the run and shoot offense at the University of Houston, translated into six bad seasons in the NFL and a nice bank account. The Seahawks would notch their second straight road victory, this time by a score of 19-10, eclipsing their previous single game best point total for all of 1992. The Seahawks were at 2-2, and headed home with renewed hope. The Bengals would lose their first 10 games of 1993 and finish 3-13, including the most uncommon score of 7-2 in a loss to the Patriots.

October 3 would be the day when the Hawks began to toy with their hopeful fans. It was the revenge game at home against the Chargers, and the boys in blue decimated them 31-14. The second coming of Joe Montana was 25-40 for 282 yards and a touchdown. He had no interceptions and rushed for another score as well. The Seattle running game was particularly ineffective, netting just 57 yards on 31 attempts in the confines of the climate-controlled Kingdome.

Chris Warren, the last player to ever play in the NFL from Division III Ferrum College in Virginia, would have a measly 32 yards on 23 carries, but still finish with 1,000+ yards rushing for the season for the second straight of four straight seasons of doing so. But two Stan Humphries interceptions tipped the scales in Seattle’s favor. One of them was by free safety Eugene Robinson (pictured above), who would lead the NFL with 9 interceptions that year, a career high. He also led the team with 111 tackles and was an All Pro.

Robinson, an undrafted free agent out of the mighty Colgate football machine in 1985, would play 11 seasons with Seattle in a successful 16-year NFL career that would see him bag 57 interceptions (12th all-time) and earn a Super Bowl ring with the 1996 Green Bay Packers. He is currently a radio broadcaster for the Carolina Panthers Radio Network. Seattle would head into their first bye week (yep, they had two bye weeks back then) at 3-2 in third place in the AFC West, just a half a game behind the 3-1 Denver Broncos and Kansas City Chiefs.

With a Denver loss and a Kansas City win during the bye week, the Seahawk were now in a three-way tie for second with the Broncos and Raiders at 3-2, a game behind the 4-1 Chiefs. Game six was a 30-10 loss in the Silverdome at the hands of the Detroit Lions, who would win the NFC Central for the last time since, well, since . . . 2013 maybe. The Lions were led by Rodney Peete and Barry Sanders, but mostly by Barry Sanders (the greatest running back in NFL history by the way). Seattle would fall further behind the Chiefs, who beat the Chargers, dropping them to 2-4. Meanwhile, the Raiders would beat the Broncos in a squeaker on Monday night, going to 4-2, while Denver stayed even with Seattle at 3-3. But hey, 3-3 was a good start, especially when you consider that four of the first six games were on the road.

In a stroke of good fortune for the Seahawks, the following week was at home against the hapless New England Patriots (their new official name). I mean, how often do you get to play a bad team twice in the same season that isn’t in your division? Despite their third straight game of sub-3.0 yards per carry, the Seahawks eked out a 10-9 victory with a fourth quarter touchdown pass from Mirer to Brian Blades, overcoming three Scott Sisson field goals.

This was the second straight time that the Rick Mirer-led Seahawks had beaten the Drew Bledsoe-led Patriots. It was obvious that the Seahawks management had drafted the better QB, and Seattle fans went to bed happy that night, knowing that their management team was far superior to that of the Patriots. That same evening, the Blue Jays would win their second consecutive World Series, downing the Phillies 8-6 on a 3-run home run in the bottom of the ninth by Joe carter off of Mitch "Wild Thing" Williams.

The following week was a 28-17 loss to the John Elway-led Broncos in Denver. The Seahawks were never really in it as their star of the game was fullback John L Williams, who scored two of his three touchdowns for the season in that game. Week 10 was off to the Astrodome to face Warren Moon and the Oilers in Seattle’s sixth road game in nine games to start the season, the Oilers had started the season with high expectations, but stumbled out of the gate to a 1-4 mark.

They were 3-4 when Seattle came to town, and they ended the day at 4-4 as Seattle’s record dropped below .500 for the first time in seven weeks. The score was 24-14 as Moon threw for 369 yards, and the Seahawks were never really in the game. It would be one of eleven straight wins for the Oilers in a season of turmoil that saw defensive coordinator Buddy Ryan punch offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride in the last regular season game of the season against the Jets. Due to implementation of the salary cap the next season, Moon and many of the Oiler stars were gone in 1994. The team record fell to 2-14, fans abandoned the franchise, refused to vote to fund a new stadium, and Bud Adams moved the team to Tennessee in 1997.

Week 11 saw Seattle at home for a much anticipated three game stretch. The Hawks faced off against a Cleveland Browns team that had started the season 5-2, and were 5-3 coming into Seattle after a loss to Denver. Bernie Kosar was the starting QB for most of those games, but Vinny Testaverde, the former Tampa Bay quarterback, whom the Browns had acquired as an unrestricted free agent in the off-season was also in the mix. Testaverde was also Kosar’s back-up at the University of Miami in 1984.

A hothead named Bill Belichick, the Browns second year head coach and GM, decided that he no longer wanted Kosar, citing Kosar’s "diminishing skills", and cut him the day after the Denver loss. Kosar would resurface as Aikman’s back-up at Dallas, reuniting himself with his college coach, Jimmy Johnson and earning a nifty Super Bowl ring in the process. Fortunately for Seattle, Testaverde’s right throwing shoulder was still hurt, so Seattle went head-to-head against the mighty Todd Philcox. Philcox would manage to complete 49.1% of his passes in a 5-year career, amassing 1,138 career passing yards and 7 TDs against 11 interceptions. Philcox finished the game 9-20 for 85 yards with 2 interceptions, and a sack in the end zone for a safety. The result was a bizarre final margin of victory for Seattle of 22-5. The season was 10 games over for the Hawks, and things were looking pretty good at 5-5 headed into their second bye week.

The next two home games were against division opponents, and the wheels began to fall off of Cinderella’s carriage. The Seahawks kept things close to Denver when a Rick Mirer to Kelvin Martin touchdown in the fourth quarter brought them to within one at 10-9. But in a defensive struggle that would see Denver punt 8 times and Seattle 12 times, the Hawks eventually succumbed by a 17-9 final score. The following week at home against the 8-3 Kansas City Chiefs was no better.

Although Joe Montana was held without a touchdown pass, Marcus Allen scored three times, and the Seattle team fell quietly 31-16. Their third straight division game was against the Raiders in the Los Angeles Coliseum. The Raiders prevailed 27-23, with Los Angeles scoring 17 third quarter points, including a 74-yard Tim Brown punt return for a touchdown, that pretty well put the game out of reach 27-9 entering the final frame. The Seahawks had lost three straight division games coming off the bye, and were now permanently in fifth place in the AFC West, looking up at 6-7 San Diego.

Week 16 was a tough overtime loss at home to the Phoenix Cardinals as the Seahawks relinquished a 20-7 halftime lead, falling behind 24-20 in the fourth quarter. After a one-yard Mirer touchdown run and John Kasay extra point put the Hawks up by three, the Cardinals tied it up at 27 late in the fourth behind a 55 yard Greg Davis field goal, and won it in overtime on a 41 yarder by Davis. Cardinal QB Steve Beuerlein, a Notre Dame alum who had a far more successful career than Mirer, passed for 431 yards, the only time in his sixteen year career that he would exceed 400 yards passing in a game.

The day after Christmas, the Seahawks would beat the Steelers in the Kingdome, ending their four game losing streak 16-6 behind journeyman Jon Vaughn’s career best 131 yards rushing on 26 carries as he filled in for the injured Chris Warren. John L Williams would add 86 yards on 14 carries as the Seahawks gained a season-high 267 rushing yards. Vaughn, who would rush for just 846 yards in his career, played one more season, and was out of the NFL at the age of 24. The Steelers would win their final game in the last week of the season to sneak into the playoffs as the third and final wildcard team.

Montana and the division leading Chiefs hosted the Seahawks in their last game of the regular season. Montana threw two TD passes in the first half and KC recovered a Seattle fumble in the end zone to jump out to a 27-10 lead, cruising to a 34-24 win. Dave Krieg closed out the second half for the Chiefs, who won the AFC West with an 11-5 record, eventually losing to the Bills in the AFC Championship game.

The Seahawks would end the season at 6-10 in perhaps the toughest division top-to-bottom in the NFL in 1993. The Raiders would finish 10-6 and the Broncos 9-7, with both teams earning wildcard spots. The Chargers would finish at 8-8. After starting out 3-1 in 1994, the Hawks would once again finish 6-10, ending the Tom Flores era with a 14-34 won-loss record (.292 winning pct.), and ushering in the Dennis Erickson regime.

For you DVOA buffs, Seattle finished 1993 with an offensive DVOA of -7.8%, good for 20th out of 28 teams, but better than their dead last ranking in 1992. (Yes youngsters, there once were only 28 NFL teams. In fact, there were once two pro football leagues, and the Broncos, Chargers, Chiefs and Raiders all played in that outlaw league. But that’s another story for another time.)

Their passing DVOA was 26th at -19.9% and their rushing was a surprisingly strong 5th at +14.0%. Good thing for Rick Mirer that advanced statistics were unknown at the time or the great hope he inspired in Seahawks fans may have already begun to be crushed. Defensively, they were a middle of the pack team with a DVOA of -0.9%, good for 16th overall, with a passing total of -2.7% (12th) and a rushing total of +1.3% (21st). It was quite a fall from their #3 ranking in 1992 at -15.7%, indicating that the previous season had the opportunity to be even worse than it was. Overall, the 1993 Seahawks weren’t a very good team, and the advanced statistics as well as their record showed it.

So there you have it. My mind can sometimes be a raging torrent, flooded with rivulets of thought cascading into a waterfall of creative alternatives, and this is the result. I hope you enjoyed our stroll through the 1993 season, a time many of us don’t even remember, and a time that the rest of wish that we didn’t. So enjoy what we have in 2013. There were once much darker days for Seahawks fans.

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