This article is a story of grim results and a strangling history against the Kansas City Chiefs and the house of horrors known as Arrowhead Stadium. Seattle has logged just five wins in twenty-five tries Arrowhead stadium, and historically it's been the one place at which the Seahawks don't win -- not without a little luck and a herculean effort up and down. This is the story of one such team.
The year was 1990. The Seahawks hadn't won in Kansas City in a decade. Arrowhead had been a house of near misses, blowouts, and momentum-stopping games. Seattle's last victory had been a desperate struggle to escape with a 17-16 victory, a game that saw a Nick Lowery 57-yard field goal bring the Chiefs within hope of winning. This was 1980 and it was one of just four wins that Seahawks team would collect that year. All on the road.
Dave Krieg, who had participated in the the majority of Seattle's defeats following that win in 1980, said during a press interview that, "For whatever reason, we don't play well at their place and they don't play well at ours."
The annual Chiefs blowout at the Kingdome, as NFL films called it on team highlight reels, was historic too. In 1984, the Seahawks set an NFL record, grabbing four pick-sixes in one game: Two by the great Dave Brown, one by 1984 defensive player of the year Kenny Easley, and one by Keith Simpson.
In 1990, however, a Seahawk team took every shot imaginable from the Chiefs. Seattle had three wins and five losses coming in, and a tough start of 0-3 left them with a weak chance to compete for the playoffs. They had to win here at Arrowhead, and as I've already shown, it would be an improbable mountain to climb.
The game wouldn't start well for either side -- and the 0-0 tie was not broken until the 2nd Quarter, when Nick Lowery kicked a 25-yard field goal. The Chiefs were led by NFL veteran Steve DeBerg, whose biggest claim to history, sadly, was warming the chair for the next franchise quarterback. He was replaced by Joe Montana in San Fransisco, John Elway in Denver and Vinny Testaverde in Tampa Bay. He's actually lucky -- he would be replaced by Dave Krieg in 1992 or he might have been replaced by Montana again when he took the reigns of the Chiefs franchise in 1993.
Field goals would be exchanged and the Chiefs would go into halftime with a 6-3 lead, as both offenses sputtered an flailed about. Nothing predicted what the second half would bring -- in terms of NFL history, and also perhaps one of the most incredible signature moments of the Dave Krieg-led Seahawks.
The Chiefs tried to ride the "Nigerian Nightmare" Christian Okoye to victory. Seattle, on the other hand, had been left with no answers in short yardage in the first half - finding no way to get tough. They tried two and three tight end sets and despite three shots at 3rd and 1 they couldn't get under the Chiefs and win.
John L. Williams tried his damnedest to be the winner in the offense, making catches and running hard, but he didn't have much behind him except a rookie Chris Warren. It was a team that lacked identity after the close of Curt Warner and Steve Largent's careers. A true struggle for identity was on in 1990.
Dave stepped up when he could and the Chiefs elected to call an all out blitz at about the 10 minute mark of the third quarter. This left Jeff Chadwick open on a crosser over the middle, and he reeled it in and ended up in the endzone for a 54-yard touchdown. The Seahawks would take a 10-6 lead and it looked like they might have changed some things to counter the Chiefs aggressive approach.
It wasn't to be, as the Chiefs drove down and kicked another field goal to bring it to 10-9, then on their next possession, punted and pinned the Seahawks back into their own end. A sack fumble then made the game 16-10 Chiefs. The sacks just piled up as Derrick Thomas went off. He'd had two sacks in the first half. The blocking tried to adjust but once that lead was there, Thomas was on another level, and though the Chiefs played "Marty Ball" down the stretch, this looked like a sure victory for the Chiefs as Seattle seemed to have no answers on offense.
There was just 1:03 left on the clock when Tony Woods shot through the line of scrimmage and took down Chiefs running back Christian Okoye. Seattle used their last time out with just :57 seconds, forcing a punt from the Chiefs 33-yard line. Chris Warren, back to receive the kick, didn't call for a fair catch and nearly fumbled as he got smacked at the point of the catch on the 34 yard line. Still no sign of what was to come.
Krieg took the snap and as would be come a staple during his career, John L. Williams caught a 16-yard screen pass -- but he failed to get out of bounds. The clock ticked to :22 seconds before Krieg got the next play off. As he'd done over 20 times in his pro career, including in Miami seven years earlier, he stepped into pressure and unloaded a great pass. Tommy Kane was there for a 25-yard catch and run. They had a chance with 4 seconds left from the 25-yard line.
I could tell you what happened. I could talk about the most unlikely play after a game of historic proportions with Derrick Thomas' seven sacks. I could tell you how amazing it was and use a bunch of fancy words. I could sit here and talk about all that unfolded for paragraph after paragraph, but I'd rather just show you.
The extra point was good, of course, and Seattle escaped their Arrowhead nightmare with their first win since 1980. The score was 17-16 then, and that was the same result here in 1990. Seattle would grab just one more victory at Arrowhead before they left the AFC west in 2002, with 31-19 win in 1999. Ricky Waters and Mike Holmgren led the charge in that one.
Even after the Seahawks switched divisions in 2002, it was never good playing at either team's place. In 2002, the Seahawks and Chiefs played an old favorite, with Seattle dropping 39 points on the back of an impressive performance from Shaun Alexander and Koren Robinson, and blew the Chiefs right out of King County. Four years later, the Chiefs held serve at home, and despite a flurry of touchdowns from a Seneca Wallace-led offense, the explosive Chiefs put up 35 behind a Hall of Fame line and 300+ yards from Damon Huard.
I know it's not a happy subject in pointing out Seattle's struggles at Arrowhead, but while it seems like it's a predictor of a loss (it's not), I just wanted to prepare you. If any team is tough enough, if any team can win in Kansas City, if anyone can buck the trend here it's this team, in this era. Russell Wilson isn't scared. Pete Carroll and Earl Thomas aren't scared. For all you old-school multi-decade Hawk fans out there, while it might look like an impossible mountain, an unlikely feat to conquer, if there's any group that can it's this one. If any one man can plant the rare flag in the win column over there at Arrowhead, it's Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch.
Let's put our hopes in this team. Lets climb that mountain together as fans. It's time to go 7-3.