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10 years of Pete Carroll: The best win from each season - Part 2

Pittsburgh Steelers v Seattle Seahawks Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images

The moment that Pete Carroll coaches game one of the 2020 regular season (if there is one), he’ll be the longest tenured coach in Seahawks history. At the moment, he’s tied with Mike Holmgren at exactly 10 seasons, and not coincidentally they’re the only two men who have led Seattle to a Super Bowl appearance. Of course, Carroll accomplished the ultimate goal of winning it all.

There has been a hell of a lot of talk (a lot of it I’ve willingly pushed) that’s largely centered around more recent annoyances and concerns about Pete’s head coaching style, in-game decision making, and the state of the current roster. I figured it would be a good time to step back and look at the high points under Coach Carroll by naming the best win from each season as Seahawks head coach.

This is strictly my own criteria, which is fairly simple and consists of the following:

  • Quality of opponent. The better the team, the better the win.
  • How well the Seahawks played. Turnovers are kept to a minimum, among other keys to clean football.
  • The magnitude of the win. What the victory meant at the time, the rest of the season, or how it played into future seasons.

Sound straightforward? Then let’s go! This is part two!

2015 - Seahawks 39 Pittsburgh Steelers 30

Pittsburgh Steelers v Seattle Seahawks Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

The game: At 5-5 and with little room for error to make the postseason, this was a must-win against a fellow playoff contender. The return of Jeremy Lane, the promotion of Deshawn Shead, and the release of Cary Williams was an instant boost to a struggling secondary.

Seattle historically had fared poorly in high-scoring games, with zero wins under Russell Wilson when allowing more than 24 points. What transpired was an instant classic that is personally one of my favorite Seahawks wins ever.

The twists and turns and back-and-forth nature of this matchup was high drama and decidedly Seahawky. An interception on a fake field goal, an end-around touchdown, an Ahtyba Rubin interception, a horrible Jimmy Graham injury, everything happened and the game was hanging in the balance. Antonio Brown was kept relatively quiet thanks to Richard Sherman, but Markus Wheaton racked up 201 yards and the go-ahead touchdown in the 4th quarter.

It looked as if the Seahawks were in danger of another blown 4th quarter lead, only this time it would surely knock them out of playoff contention.

Enter Russ. Enter Doug Baldwin.

Lost in this recap is that Mike Tomlin opted to kick a short field goal instead of go for it on 4th and goal, cutting the score from 32-27 to 32-30 and putting the game in the hands of his shredded and humiliated defense. This two-set tweet from Bomani Jones is some of what I remember from social media when Baldwin scored the dagger TD.

Wilson threw for 345 yards and a career high five touchdowns with no turnovers, while Doug Baldwin had a hat trick of scores. We’re not done with Baldwin hat tricks, by the way...

What it meant: For some of us, a measure of revenge for Super Bowl XL and two subsequent shutouts in Pittsburgh. The season was essentially saved and the Seahawks romped their way into the postseason. This win also provided more validation for Wilson as an elite quarterback in the middle of his historically great stretch of play.

2016 - Seahawks 31 New England Patriots 24

Seattle Seahawks v New England Patriots Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images

The game: First game against New England since XLIX. Sunday Night Football. The Patriots had the NFL’s best record and the Seahawks were 5-2-1 but had a hobbled Russell Wilson and were fortunate to escape with a Monday Night Football home win against the Buffalo Bills.

This really was football at its finest. The lead switched hands seven times, Earl Thomas laid out Gronk, and the ending seemed fitting given what happened in Glendale... whatever ending that was.

Tom Brady threw for over 300 yards but failed to throw a touchdown pass, whereas Russ cooked up 348 yards and a trio of TDs to one Doug Baldwin. Before Alistair Corp gets mad at me, let’s praise C.J. Prosise for a sensational 153 yards on 24 touches in by far the game of his career. It provided us a glimpse of “what could’ve been” had he stayed healthy.

The silence in Gillette Stadium was simply golden. Seattle went toe to toe with the giant and beat them in their backyard.

What it meant: The season honestly peaked here. It was the most exciting, well-played game Seattle played all year. CJ Prosise’s breakout game gave way to a season-ending injury against the Philadelphia Eagles the following week. Injuries torpedoed hopes of the #2 seed by December. New England didn’t lose again, meaning the Seahawks were the only team to hand Tom Brady an L all year.

2017 - Seahawks 41 Houston Texans 38

Houston Texans v Seattle Seahawks Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

The game: I’m bending my own rules a bit here. The 24-10 win over the Philadelphia Eagles was clearly a better win in terms of quality of opponent, how well the team played as a whole, but I really cannot in good conscience put it above one of the craziest games I’ve ever seen.

Bill O’Brien saw it fit to start Tom Savage in Week 1 over Deshaun Watson, and by halftime the Watson era had begun. Watson quickly became a rookie sensation, but he’d never faced the Legion of Boom before, so the Clemson star had his work cut out for him.

...Then he threw a 59-yard touchdown to Will Fuller and suddenly the battle was well and truly on. Earl Thomas rose to the challenge by getting a pick-six on the next Texans possession.

Then there was Russ. Play-action continued to work despite a sterling 16 carry/5 yard outing from his running backs. He unleashed an aerial assault for the ages and Paul Richardson and Tyler Lockett were his favored targets on the afternoon, with both men eclipsing 100 yards.

A devastating interception by Wilson down 38-34 could’ve been the game-loser, but the Seahawks defense gave him one last chance at glory, and it took only four plays to get the W. In this part, a wild Jimmy Graham appears.

Richard Sherman intercepted a valiant Watson’s desperation throw and that was that. Two quarterbacks who each threw four touchdowns and more than 400 yards in an absolute thriller.

What it meant: It meant my move from New York to Portland would be a happy one, as this was the last Seahawks game I saw before heading back to the Pacific Northwest. This was also the final game with the full compliment of Legion of Boom starters. Watson played his ass off in a losing effort, Wilson received deserved accolades for his heroics while having zero running game and a defense that was under siege by this sensational youngster. Sadly, Watson’s season ended with a torn ACL in practice, and their season cratered. The Seahawks fell flat against Washington on my birthday, and their season would soon fall apart enough to miss the playoffs. Ultimately, this was an all-time classic and a great QB duel. I look forward to the presumptive rematch in 2021.

2018 - Seahawks 38 Kansas City Chiefs 31

NFL: Kansas City Chiefs at Seattle Seahawks Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

The game: The Seahawks had embarrassed themselves in a road loss to the 49ers, failing to clinch a playoff spot in the process. Kansas City was looking to clinch the #1 seed behind eventual MVP winner Patrick Mahomes. It was a major Sunday Night Football clash featuring Mahomes and Wilson, and it proved one hell of a sequel to the Wilson vs. Watson duel from the year prior.

Seattle “established the run” early with Chris Carson and he had himself a stellar performance, scoring the first and last touchdowns of the game. But the stars of the show were Wilson and Mahomes, and Patrick may be phenomenal but he was outplayed. The turning point came on defense, when a Damien Williams fumble gave the Seahawks great field position and an eventual Nick Vannett touchdown. Kansas City was up 10-7 at the time of the turnover and never regained the lead again.

As for Wilson, he made magic happen, but not without the help of Doug Baldwin and Tyler Lockett.

Wilson threw for 271 yards and 3 TDs and ran for 57 yards. Baldwin’s touchdown was the final one of his NFL career, which is still sad to type.

What it meant: A playoff berth that most pundits predicted would not happen. Much like 2015, they rallied from a 4-5 record to qualify for the postseason with room to spare. Consider an alternative world where the Seahawks had lost to the Chiefs and needed to beat the Arizona Cardinals in Week 17 to get in... terrifying, right? And they barely won that game too.

2019 - Seahawks 27 San Francisco 49ers 24 (OT)

Seattle Seahawks v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images

The game: The 49ers were the NFL’s last undefeated team, while the Seahawks were two games behind them in the NFC West standings despite a series of needlessly close games against mostly unremarkable opposition. But this was Monday Night Football and a chance for a national audience to see a great rivalry renewed.

It looked like Seattle was in danger of a dismal night when they fell into a 10-0 hole. In typical Seahawks fashion, they rallied back thanks to what was a phenomenal showing by the defensive line, particularly Jadeveon Clowney. The Clowney fumble return touchdown after Jarran Reed’s sack of Jimmy Garoppolo gave Seattle life, and by the end of the 3rd quarter they were up 21-10.

In typical Seahawks fashion, they let the 49ers back into it with a fumble return touchdown that’s too goofy to describe. San Francisco tied it up, Jason Myers gave Seattle the lead back, Jimmy G threw nine dropped interceptions on his way to game-tying field goal drive, and then overtime happened.

Holy shit.

The elation of Wilson eluding rushers to find Malik Turner was met with devastation that he’d likely blown the game with an interception thrown to Dre Greenlaw. Chase McLaughlin’s chance to be the hero ended with a field goal attempt so bad that it landed in McCovey Cove. A tie was in the cards, then Russ took matters into his own hands and set the stage for the buzzer-beater.

What it meant: Handing the 49ers their first loss of the season and keeping the NFC West race tight all the way down to Week 17. Yeah, the rematch which didn’t end so well for us but it’s an opportunity that would’ve never materialized had they lost in Santa Clara. For all the rightful concerns about the struggles that the Seahawks had against bad opposition, they took down the last unbeaten team in their backyard, and Jason Myers atoned for a poor showing and a missed game-winning field goal the week prior against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Wow. That’s way more writing than I’d intended to do. Lots of great memories, still some more great memories to be had if the Seahawks play their cards right. Thanks for reading and feel free to share your favorite wins in the comments.