It’s the weekend, we’re in one of the duller stages of the NFL offseason, so I figured it’d be a good time to have a little reminiscing period. Let’s talk about great Seattle Seahawks wins over division rivals.
The Seahawks are a unique team because they’ve spent the majority of their franchise history in the AFC West, but then switched over to the NFC West in 2002 after the inclusion of the Houston Texans caused a mass division realignment. Older/more tenured Seahawks fans may rate the 1984 wild card destruction of the Broncos pretty highly, while fans such as myself didn’t root for the team until they were already in the NFC West.
Here are a couple of runners-up on my personal list, including one which may surprise you.
October 9th, 2005: Seahawks 37 Rams 31
Does anyone remember how often Chris Berman and Tom Jackson would say “Come on, Seattle!” on NFL Primetime? That was in reference to the Seahawks seemingly being on the verge of Super Bowl contention, only to disappointment. The 2005 season was trending towards being a repeat of 2003, where the team was unbeatable at home and absolutely awful on the road. Seattle hadn’t won at St. Louis since division realignment, and memorably went 0-3 against them in the frustrating 2004 campaign.
Both Seattle and St. Louis were 2-2 entering week 5, but the Seahawks were playing at 10 AM PT once again. When the Rams returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown, it felt like Seattle was in for another long day. Seattle responded beautifully and took a 24-21 lead at the half. They extended the lead to 34-21 in the 3rd quarter, before a Steven Jackson rush from short yardage pretty much halved the deficit.
Late in the 4th quarter, the Seahawks held a 37-31 lead and needed to drain the clock and prevent the Rams offense from getting one last shot. Seattle’s play sequence was incomplete, incomplete, and sack. The Rams were going to get the ball again ... until Big Play Babs forced a fumble on punt returner Shaun McDonald, and long snapper J.P. Darche recovered. Shaun Alexander ran for two first downs and the Seahawks embarked on an 11-game winning streak.
The real standout performer was Joe Jurevicius, who caught 9 balls for 137 yards and a touchdown. It was a particularly emotional moment for Jurevicius, whose son Michael died in 2003 of a rare cellular disease at a hospital located just minutes away from the Edward Jones Dome. This was Jurevicius’ first game in St. Louis since his son’s death, and he had the best statistical game of his career.
January 19th, 2014: Seahawks 23 49ers 17
Do I really need to write about this?
I would imagine this will be chosen as the favorite win over any division rival for many of you in the comments section, but it’s actually not my #1. Maybe it has to do with the awful start, or the two chances Seattle had to close the game out when they took the lead for good, only to fail to fully capitalize, but this isn’t even my favorite win against the 49ers!
Drumroll please, my favorite Seahawks divisional victory is...
December 23rd, 2012: Seahawks 42 49ers 13
The back-end of the 2012 regular season was perhaps the finest stretch of Seahawks football we’ve ever seen under Pete Carroll, and that includes both Super Bowl teams and the second-half of the 2015 squad. With playoff hopes in serious jeopardy in Chicago, Russell Wilson engineered back-to-back 80-yard touchdown drives and sparked a furious push not just for a postseason berth, but for the NFC West itself.
Poor Arizona was waxed 58-0 one week after the 23-17 Seahawks overtime heroics over the Bears, then Seattle traveled to Canada and beat the hapless Buffalo Bills 50-17 (a scoreline adjusted for local exchange rates). These were beatdowns of the highest order, but these were also bad teams with bad quarterbacks. Doing the same to a San Francisco team coming off a 41-34 win at Foxboro against the New England Patriots would’ve been a real statement. The 49ers had averaged 28.8 points per game after Colin Kaepernick became the team’s permanent starter, and their only hiccup was an overtime loss to Jeff Fisher’s St. Louis Rams ... because Rams.
I’d just moved from the Seattle area only a few days after the 58-0 game, and then missed all of the Bills win, so this was my first taste of Seahawks football as an East Coast resident. That this was a night game and the time zone shift meant an 8:30 PM kickoff instead of 5:30 did not ease my nerves.
The 49ers receive the opening kickoff and go three-and-out. Leon Washington returns the ball into SF territory, then tack on 15 yards for Tramaine Brock’s personal foul penalty. Seattle’s offense is in field goal range without taking a snap. Zach Miller catches and runs for a first down. Then Beast Mode arrives...
I’m jumping up and down like a maniac at this dream start.
San Francisco only travels 17 yards on its next possession and punts again. Marshawn Lynch plows forward for 7 yards from Seattle’s own 14. Next play, the Seahawks take a deep shot and Doug Baldwin turned what should’ve been an easier catch into something utterly ridiculous.
Marshawn is back in the end zone on a Russell Wilson pass, and it was 14-0 in the blink of an eye against a team that had held them out of the end zone in the first matchup.
I’m ecstatic but still cautious given the strength of the opposition. Frank Gore fumbled the ball on SF’s ensuing drive, but somehow the Seahawks failed to recover it. Kaepernick was finding some success and moving the ball down the field. The Niners face 3rd and 6 at Seattle’s 20, and Kam Chancellor wrecks Vernon Davis for life, even if it meant a (questionable) unnecessary roughness penalty.
Seattle’s stingy defense held firm, and at this point I expect it to be 14-3, a real victory given the unlucky nature of that series. I had to go away from the TV to help serve Christmas dinner, so by the time I return upstairs, I see a 21-0 scoreline. Holy shit!
Russell Wilson was almost flawless (save for a failed screen pass turned interception), Doug Baldwin had more touchdowns in this game (2) than he had in the entire season leading up to that night (1). Richard Sherman picked Colin Kaepernick off in garbage time, and perhaps the most glaring sign that this was Seattle’s night, Robert Turbin had a run of 20+ yards not called back due to a holding penalty.
Jim Harbaugh’s birthday was spoiled. The 176 rushing yards is the most any Harbaugh-era 49ers team has ever allowed. Wilson threw four touchdowns for the first time in his rookie season. Everything was working, and the Seahawks were playoff-bound.
I value this win over the 2014 NFC Championship Game because it 100% confirmed that the Seahawks were not merely feasting on weaker competition in their previous two blowouts. The stakes and the drama aren’t really comparable whatsoever, but the overall performance was orgasmic. This really was the beginning of Seattle’s transformation into a legitimate Super Bowl contender, whereas the NFC CG was a heavyweight clash in which the favorite dug deep to get the W. We knew the 2013 team was special, but it all started with Christmas Eve uh ... Eve 2012. Never in my wildest dreams did I think destroying San Francisco was in the cards, and they humiliated them in every which way possible.
If there’s any “what could’ve been?” for the 2012 team, had the Rams beaten the 49ers instead of tied them in their first matchup, the Seahawks would’ve not only won the division, but secured a first-round bye by virtue of owning the tiebreaker over the Green Bay Packers thanks to Fail Mary. Oh how different things could’ve been under this scenario.
Anyway, I’ve done my talking. Now do yours! The only stipulation I have is that beating former division rivals does not count. So Super Bowl 48 wouldn’t qualify, because Seattle obviously no longer plays in the AFC West.