Steve Largent might not be the GREATEST Seahawks player anymore (I'm in the camp of folks who think Walter Jones holds that crown now), but he will always be Seattle's 1st great NFL player, and the team's 1st Hall of Famer. I'm old enough to remember the overlapping years of Largent's still-stellar late career and the team success of the Chuck Knox era, and I was lucky enough to be at the Dome for many of Largent's greatest moments (including The Harden Payback), and his final game in 1989. I was 14. Yes, I cried after the game ended.
The Seahawks haven't had another truly great wide receiver since Largent retired (though BMW has potential), and though changes in the way the game is played have made Largent's career numbers seem less impressive, he was a DOMINANT force- Probably the best WR in the NFL over the 10-season period from 1978-1987 (Yes, that overlaps with Jerry Rice's first two great years in 1986-87, but who cares?). No one in the history of the game has ever had better hands than Largent, and despite the stereotype of the "slow, white possession receiver," the guy averaged 16.0 yards per reception in his career (better than Rice, Michael Irvin, Randy Moss, Fred Biletnikoff, etc).
Then there's the 100 career receiving touchdowns, which has only been bested by five players in the last 22 seasons, in a much more pass-happy league.
So, here's his top 10 single-game performances.. Enjoy!
10. 12/11/1988 Seahawks 42, Broncos 14 (3 catches for 76 yards)
Three catches for 76 yards may not sound that impressive, but... Well, just watch this:
9. 12/31/83 Seahawks 27, Dolphins 20 (2/56)
Another unimpressive stat line, right? But in the 1983 Divisional Playoff at Miami, Largent had been held catchless for 57 minutes, and Seattle trailed 20-17. On that final drive, however, Largent got loose- His 40-yard catch set up Curt Warner at the 2-yard-line for the winning touchdown in the biggest playoff upset until the CarrollHawks took down the World Champion Saints. Steve Largent didn't just pile up stats- When a big play needed to be made, #80 usually got it done.
8. 12/29/1984 Dolphins 31, Seahawks 10 (6/128/1 TD)
A year later the Dolphins got their revenge, but it certainly wasn't Steve Largent's fault. He scored Seattle's only TD on a nifty catch, break two tackles, and run like hell sort of play. The rest of the team was no match for '84 vintage Marino and the eventual AFC Champion Dolphins, though.
7. 11/13/1983 Cardinals 33, Seahawks 28 (8/155/3)
A long time ago, a trip to St. Louis was an interconference game, outdoors, and against the Cardinals. Weird, huh? This was another great effort in a losing cause for Largent, who led a comeback from a 28-14 2nd-half deficit to tie the game late in the 4th.
6. 10/29/1979 Seahawks 31, Falcons 28 (6/127)
This game is famous for Howard Cosell gushing over Jack Patera's liberal use of fake punts and field goals, which has obscured the great game Largent had on the MNF stage.
5. 10/30/1977 Seahawks 56, Bills 17 (4/134/2)
The 1st blowout win in franchise history, punctuated by two long touchdown receptions from Mr. Largent. Was Buffalo on its way to a pathetic 3-11 finish behind a sub-par season by future double-murderer O.J. Simpson? Yes, but this was only the 21st game in team history... So I'm grading this one on a curve.
4. 12/6/1981 Seahawks 27, Jets 23 (7/169/1)
A young Dave Krieg started for an injured Jim Zorn against the playoff-bound Jets, and Jimmy the Greek famously gave Seattle no chance to prevail on the CBS pre-game show that morning. Mudbone got a huge assist from #80, who he hit for the winning 57-yard TD late in the 4th quarter.
3. 12/18/1983 Seahawks 24, Patriots 6 (7/133/1)
A game of great personal significance for me- My first game at the Kingdome, and one Seattle needed to win to make the playoffs for the first time ever. Largent scored on a bomb from Dave Krieg to give the Hawks a 10-0 lead, and Seattle rolled to victory from there... My tale of the '83 season can be read here...
2. 11/25/1984 Seahawks 27, Broncos 24 (12/191/1)
If you remember one moment from this one, it's probably Rich Karlis clanging the game-tying FG off the post on the game's final play- But it was Largent who won this game for Seattle, with his most impressive statistical performance in a non-replacement game ever. His 4th quarter TD put the Seahawks up for good, even though we all held our breath during that field goal attempt at the end...
1. 1/3/1988 Oilers 23, Seahawks 20 (OT) (7/132/2)
The Seahawks lost this one because the officials blew the call on a Fredd Young OT interception deep in Houston territory- But Seattle doesn't even force OT without a career-best performance from Steve Largent. A week earlier, Pro Bowl RB Curt Warner got injured at Arrowhead, so it was up to #80 to carry the offensive load. Not only did Largent score an early TD to give Seattle a 7-0 lead, he also kept Seattle's game tying drive alive in the waning moments of regulation time. He converted a 4th and 10 by INCHES, and caught the game-tying TD with 23 seconds left.
Stupid Frakking Officials...