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Minus 7 yards: The Seahawks and the worst offensive performance in NFL history

Seattle holds a record of futility that may never be broken. Do they have their best opportunity to save their franchise some face this weekend against the Jaguars?


I was not yet born in 1979. Few people were. At most, there were like a few hundred people in the world. Some of them played a football game in the Kingdome on November 4, 1979 -- but none of the people that played a football game that day were Seattle Seahawks.

Those guys had the day off.

That's surprising because there weren't any bye weeks in 1979, and just a week prior the Seahawks did play a football game. They beat the Atlanta Falcons 31-28, on the road, on Monday night football, and were really starting to look like an NFL team under coach Jack Patera. And then the LA Rams came to Seattle and nearly caused contraction of the Seahawks from the NFL only a few years after they had expanded into the area.

How else could we quantify the worst offensive performance in league history?

Jim Zorn was 2-of-17 for 25 yards, completing both passes to Steve Largent. Sherman Smith ran the ball seven times for 16 yards, and there were five other runs that totaled seven more yards. Had that been the end of it, the Seahawks would have gained 48 yards against the Rams, which would be good for the 16th-worst total in NFL history.

But that wasn't the end of it.

Though they didn't keep individual sack numbers at the time, Zorn was credited as going down six times (I've seen different totals for this, going as high as eight) and losing 55 yards. The Seahawks total offense that day was -7 yards, the worst performance that the league has ever seen. They gained one first down all game long and never made it past their own 42 yard line.

Which is especially weird because Seattle's offense wasn't even bad that year. They finished fourth in scoring. The LA Rams had some historic defenses in their day, and won their seventh straight division title in 1979, but were really at the end of their run. Though they actually made the Super Bowl that year, they also finished at just 9-7, same record as the Seahawks in '79.

However on this day, Seattle looked like absolute shit. Although in their favor, they only turned the ball over one time. It could just be a historic anomaly, but it's still in the record books as maybe the most embarrassing anomaly in team history -- and this is a franchise that averaged 5.9 points per game over the first 10 games of the 1992 season.

"Who will save us?!" a woman (me) shrieks from the back of the room.

Well, like a wounded soldier that his comrades don't want to leave behind but he knows his fate is sealed... save yourself!

The Seahawks currently have the best defense in the NFL. Even though it's only been two games, playing against the offenses of Carolina and San Francisco, they are first in scoring defense, total defense, turnovers forced, first in fumbles forced, they are that annoying commentor that says "first" on a message board, fourth in interceptions, first in passing yards allowed, stay firsty my friends, first in passing touchdowns allowed, first in our hearts, first in rushing touchdowns allowed, and fourth in first downs allowed.

Colin Kaepernick and Cam Newton have combined to go 29-of-51 for 229 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions. Seattle is allowing 5.1 yards per carry but teams have not been able to run it that often. The Seahawks have four sacks thus far but only just got Michael Bennett back and may get Chris Clemons back this week. They may also get back Brandon Browner, possibly giving them two of their top starters back on defense that they didn't have while they dominated the Panthers and 49ers offenses.

Okay, so what? As talented as they may be, it's still going to require a miracle to allow negative eight yards over an entire game. Well if it's a miracle that you require, consider Jacksonville the Baby Jesus.

All due respect to my friend (I hope) Alfie Crow at Big Cat Country, the Jaguars are a long way away from contending but also feature a league-worst offense that may or may not benefit from the absence of Blaine Gabbert. They almost certainly wouldn't benefit from the absence of Maurice Jones-Drew, however.

The Jags have scored 11 points. Jacksonville started off the season with a lead when they blocked a punt against the Chiefs and scored a safety to lead 2-0. They have been outscored 47-9 ever since.

Jacksonville gained 178 total yards against the Chiefs in Week 1 and turned it over twice. Gabbert was injured and replaced by Chad Henne. This past week they played the Oakland Raiders and gained 248 total yards, most of which came in big chunks towards the end of the game, scoring their first touchdown of the year when Henne hit Clay Harbor with 2:57 to go and trailing by 16 points.

Bryan Anger, the punter selected ahead of Russell Wilson, had 155 more punting yards than anyone else in the NFL and likely will finish with a comfortable lead in that category.

Gabbert is doubtful. Jones-Drew, who had 10 carries for 27 yards against Oakland, is questionable. Tight end Marcedes Lewis, who hasn't yet played this year, is also questionable. Please, just sign Tim Tebow!

For any one of those positions, really.

The starting quarterback could be Henne, though if he's worse than Gabbert is an ongoing debate in Jacksonville. The starting running back could be a guy named Jordan Todman (six carries for nine yards this year) though he may be spelled by Michigan's starting QB last year (Denard Robinson, three carries for one yard.)

Starting receiver Justin Blackmon, the fifth overall pick in 2012 that had 865 yards as a rookie, is suspended. Last season's breakout, Cecil Shorts, is doing the best that he can do and has 11 catches for 133 yards. Rookie Ace Sanders is second on the team with eight catches and 78 yards, 59 of which came in the last four minutes against Oakland.

Adam Stites at BCC also broke down some stats about what the Jags are on a (very, very early) pace to do:

Fewest points in a 16-game season:

Current record - 1991 Indianapolis Colts: 143

2013 Jaguars pace: 88

Fewest TDs in a 16-game season:

Current record - 1991 Indianapolis Colts: 14

2013 Jaguars pace: 8

Most punts in a season:

Current record - 1981 Chicago Bears/2002 Houston Texans: 114

2013 Jaguars pace: 152

And now they travel to Seattle to take on the number one defense. It's the immovable object versus the immovable object.

Could the Seahawks do their own franchise a favor and break the record for fewest total yards allowed in a game? Probably not. Could both of these teams move towards some historically-relevant numbers after three games of play?

I think both team blogs could agree that it is likely.