Cutting to the chase, Beastquake doesn’t happen without Charlie Whitehurst. And Ruvell Martin. And Mike Williams. And some St. Louis Rams ineptitude. And some good defense. And a terrible division.
But mostly, it doesn’t happen without the biggest play of Whitehurst’s pro career, a gorgeous four-yard TD rainbow to Mike Williams. It’s a simple enough toss, yet one that put enough points on the board for the 2010 Seahawks to win the NFC West and advance to the soon-to-be-epic wild-card game with the Saints.
Quick history lesson: in Week 17 of Pete Carroll’s first season, the 6-9 Seahawks hosted the 7-8 Rams in what was truthfully — albeit desperately — billed as the NFC West Championship Game. Seattle was vying to become the first sub-.500 division champion ever; St. Louis was vying to return to the playoffs for the first time in six seasons. Neither team was good. Regardless, someone had to win the division.
Moment number 8: Whitehurst to Williams, for six
When: January 2, 2011, Week 17.
Game state: Seahawks 0, Rams 0, first drive of the game, 2nd and goal from the STL 4, 11:43 Q1.
What happens: Charlie Whitehurst finds Mike Williams in the corner of the end zone for a touchdown.
Five plays earlier, Whitehurst had seen Ruvell Martin break impossibly open, on what can only have been a blown coverage by the Rams. The duo connected for 61 yards, an explosive play that, along with the ensuing score, helped change history.
It was the longest pass of Whitehurst’s career to that point, and the longest reception of Martin’s.
Martin made 13 more catches in his career, ever, following that play — two in this game. Williams and Whitehurst left the Seahawks after the 2011 season. But their spirits will always be with us.
(For moments 10 and 9 in our countdown, click this place and this place also.)