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The most heartbreaking losses in Seahawks history

I'm not sure what soccer pains feel like, but here is a closer look at some of the rougher moments in Seahawks history.

Kevin C. Cox

I'll watch a World Cup game and root for the USA, but truth be told I'm not much of a soccer fan. I didn't feel the emotional highs and lows of yesterday's 2-2 tie with Portugal, but according to what I saw on Twitter, it seems like many of y'all were on the lows.

What I do know about emotional high's and low's has to do with the other kind of football: American football (speaking of USA, am I right? You can't spell "America" with an "Am" and an "I", right?)

For the first time in franchise history, the Seahawks are riding high off of a Super Bowl win. They faced tough tests against the New Orleans Saints and San Francisco 49ers, but Richard Sherman swapped away any chance of a heartbreaking loss and they rode to an easy victory over the Denver Broncos. Finally, it was "our time" and Seattle could give their fanbase what they've wanted for almost four decades.

There have been many times when that wasn't the case, so now seems like a good time to recount some of the more devastating losses in franchise history. Specifically in most cases, in the playoffs.

January 8, 1984

Raiders 30, Seahawks 14

Though the game didn't end on some heartbreaking final play, the Seahawks were in a position unlike anything expected of them in their first season under Chuck Knox. After eight seasons in the NFL without a playoff appearance, and an overall franchise record of 39-62, Seattle came out 9-7, just edging out the Cleveland Browns in a tiebreaker.

They beat the 9-7 Denver Broncos in round one, then shocked the 12-4 Miami Dolphins with a fourth quarter comeback in round two, all setting up what seemed to be a "team of destiny" scenario in the AFC Championship game against the Los Angeles Raiders. The Raiders had won the Super Bowl in 1980, went 8-1 in 1982, and 12-4 under future Seahawks coach Tom Flores in 1983.


Return of the Jedi topped the domestic box office with $252 million in sales, more than twice than second place Terms of Endearment. Shows like The A-Team, Magnum P.I., and that lovable scamp Webster were seen in more than 20 million homes across the country every week. And Michael Jackson's Thriller spent 22 weeks on top of the charts, becoming perhaps the greatest album of all-time. Ever heard of it?

It was all centered in the little town of Los Angeles, or as I like to call it, "Tinseltown."

And here comes a little football team from the Pacific Northwest, trying to upset the balance of power in the country, as well as the L.A. Raiders. Pretty much everyone expected the Raiders to wipe these little jerks off the map, push their weight around, and move on easily into the Super Bowl in order to capture their third championship in franchise history. But these "Seahawks" had something else in mind, I tell ya...

Except that it didn't matter, Dave Krieg had as many interceptions as he had completions (3) and L.A. won by a lot. If it makes you feel any better, they won by even more in the Super Bowl, beating the Redskins 38-9.

It may have just "felt good to be here" considering that nobody expected Seattle to be there as it was (I don't know, I was one-years-old) but when you get those bursts of unexpected energy, it had to be a big letdown to see the team get defeated so easily. On the bright side, it put an end to the Jim Zorn era that year and entered the Krieg era. Though Zorn will always be remembered fondly in Seattle, Krieg is a much better quarterback. It would lead to a lot more victories over the next decade.

And a lot more heartache.


December 29, 1984

Dolphins 31, Seahawks 10

Less than a year later, Seattle would get their "revenge" by beating the Raiders 13-7 in the Wild Card round of the '84 playoffs. I put revenge in quotes because LA beat the Seahawks in a much more important game and then won the Super Bowl.

Seattle beat the Raiders this time 13-7, Krieg was again pretty awful (4-of-10, 70 yards), and then the Seahawks got clobberbottled by the Dan Marino and the Dolphins.

Despite being close at the half, 14-10 after a Steve Largent touchdown, Miami scored 17 points in the second half and Seattle scored none. For a long time, the 1984 12-4 Seahawks would be the best team in franchise history. They intercepted an incredible 38 passes, had three shutouts, led the league in turnovers, and had 55 sacks. You could certainly hope that this was only the beginning of something beautiful -- Krieg was only 26 and had just thrown 32 touchdowns -- but hopes and wishes are about as good as soaps and dishes.

They're not good, Bill. They're not good.

Perhaps just as heartbreaking was Seattle's 31-14 loss to the Broncos in the final game of the season. Had they won that game, then they would've won the AFC West and not had to face the Dolphins in Miami in the second round of the playoffs. Maybe the outcome would've eventually been the same, but we'll never know.

The Seahawks would miss the playoffs in each of the next two seasons.

January 3, 1988

Oilers 23, Seahawks 20 (OT)

In an act that can only be described as "treason," Houston Oilers quarterback Warren Moon helped beat his hometown Seahawks in the first round of the 1987-88 NFL playoffs. Much like Buzz Aldrin, I still scream at the Moon.

Finally returning to the playoffs following their two year absence, Seattle went 9-6 in a season shortened by one week thanks to another strike. They'd win a Wild Card spot and play the 9-6 Oilers, a team that was outscored during the regular season by four points, in Houston.

Again, the Oilers couldn't even outscore their opponents that year. Even the 5-10 Raiders outscored their opponents that season.

Now the Seahawks would be the ones doing the striking, with Largent "striking" first on a touchdown catch to make it 7-0. Then other things happened blah blah blah and Largent scored again with 1:47 left in the game to make it 20-20 and force overtime.

Seattle may have had their chances to advance in the playoffs again, but Tony Zendajas kicked a 42-yard field goal with eight minutes left in OT to give Moon his precious little victory. The Oilers would lose to the Broncos the next week by a score of 34-10. The Seahawks had beaten Denver just three weeks earlier.


December 31, 1988

Bengals 21, Seahawks 13

"Sticky ickey ickey, ooh-wee?" More like Sticky Ickey Ickey, no thanks, am I right?

Again, Seattle was back in the playoffs less than a calendar year after a heartwrenching defeat, and again they couldn't turn around their fortunes. This time, the Seahawks edged out the Broncos for the AFC West title, winning the division with a 9-7 record. They'd advance straight to the divisional round without having to play in the Wild Card, and were just a win away from their second conference title game in franchise history.

If only they could beat "It's not a" Boomer Esiason and the Cincinnati Bengals.

Unfortunately, they could not.

Down 21-0 going into the fourth quarter, Krieg mounted a mini-comeback with two touchdowns, but a missed extra point by Norm Johnson meant it was still an eight-point game without much time remaining. Seattle had the ball and a chance, but not much of one, as they were pinned on their own two and turned it over on downs to end the game. In an era where fullbacks still had an impact on football, Seahawks FB John L Williams had 11 catches for 137 yards and a touchdown, while the Bengals Ickey Woods rushed for 126 yards and a score of his own.

Cincinnati would go on to beat the Buffalo Bills in the conference title game (a team Seattle lost to 13-3 in the regular season) before losing to the San Francisco 49ers in one of the most iconic Super Bowls in history. (The 49ers beat Seattle 38-7 in the regular season.)

January 9, 2000

Dolphins 20, Seahawks 17

Throughout franchise history, Seattle has made the playoffs in the first season of almost every notable head coaching hire with the exception of Flores in 1992. (That team went 2-14.) Mike Holmgren was no exception when he left the Green Bay Packers to come to the northwest in 1999 to try and resurrect a franchise that needed life so badly that not even H.P. Lovecraft himself could do weave a tale that would do it justice.

But maybe Holmgren could.

In four years under Dennis Erickson, the team went: 8-8, 7-9, 8-8, 8-8. It hurts to see a team get that close and not be able to breakthrough, but Holmgren gave a lot of hope to the fans. In fact, it was at that time that I began to pay closer attention to the football team and less to the baseball team in town. (That ended up paying off quite nicely, eh?)

As they would say on one of my favorite podcasts, U Talking U2 to Me?, I was just a little boy that wanted to be a big boy. The year was 1999, and Star Wars, Episode One: The Phantom Menace was topping the box office, a little scamp named "Stewie" debuted with his family after Super Bowl XXXIII, and Michael Jackson was white.

Hmmm, maybe not quite as good as 1983.

The Seahawks won the division, but it was not pretty. They were only 9-7, winning a tiebreaker with the 9-7 Kansas City Chiefs. They had also started out 8-2 before losing five of their last six games. Either way, they were here now and it's the playoffs, so anything could happen. They hadn't been here under Erickson, which brings up heartache of another sort.

"Close" is as good as "nowhere near." Seattle has finished .500 or better without a playoff appearance nine times in franchise history.

In 1978, they went 9-7 with three losses by four points or less.

In 1979, they went 9-7 but with only one close loss.

In 1985, they went 8-8 with three losses by three points.

In 1986, they went 10-6 and missed the playoffs.

In 1990, they went 9-7 with five losses by a touchdown or less.

In 1995, they went 8-8 with four losses by a touchdown or less.

In 1997, they went 8-8 with six losses by a touchdown or less, two in overtime.

In 1998, they went 8-8 with three losses by three points or less.

And in 2001, they went 9-7 with a couple of close losses.

But what doesn't kill you makes you not dead... and that's pretty much it.

No matter how they got there in Holmgren's first year, they got there. And again they were facing Marino and the Dolphins, but this time he was 15 years older and not nearly as incredible as he was in 1984, but still pretty good. The Seahawks even led 17-10 in the third quarter.

But J.J. Johnson scored on a two-yard touchdown run with less than five minutes left, giving Miami a 20-17 lead. Perhaps Seattle would have won, but Jon Kitna was pretty much abysmal. On the ensuing drive, he was sacked on the first two plays and then had to give it up facing third-and-24 and hoping for the best. The Dolphins were forced to punt on the next drive, giving the Seahawks a chance to tie with a minute left and starting at their own 12, but Kitna went nowhere slow.

He was intercepted with :30 seconds left to end the game.

Seattle would give Brock Huard four starts the next year before trading for Matt Hasselbeck in 2001. So we can always thank Kitna and Huard for that.

Speaking of which...

January 4, 2004

Packers 33, Seahawks 27 (OT)

"We want the ball, and this is going to hurt a lot."

By 2003, Hasselback had started to take over as the most legit quarterback that Seattle had seen since Krieg in the eighties. He broke out for 26 touchdowns and 15 interceptions that season, with 60% completions and 7.5 yards per attempt. He was someone that the fanbase knew they could count on to complement Shaun Alexander and the rushing offense, rather than be a detriment to them. It took a couple of years for Hasselbeck to fully adjust to being a leader we could trust week in and week out, but by the 2003 playoffs, we did trust him fully.

When he told the referee, "We want the ball and we're going to score" I didn't doubt him for a second. Never. Not at all. Hell, even a part of me right now still thinks he might do it. It's like watching The Dark Knight and believing that this time the Joker will win. (You guys also root for the Joker, right?)

The game was back-and-forth, but Seattle was close to pulling the upset in Green Bay and had the lead going into the fourth quarter. Also, when will you ever see a box score like this again:


The Seahawks tied the game with less than a minute remaining, and then Ryan Longwell missed a 47-yard field goal attempt as time expired. It seemed like destiny. But much like with George McFly, it turned out to be density.

On the first drive of OT, Hasselbeck completed a third-and-nine pass to Alex Bannister for eight yards. He fumbled and the ball was recovered by the Packers, but then overturned on replay. After a three-and-out by Green Bay, the Seahawks got the ball back. On 2nd-and-11, the Packers called a timeout. After the timeout, Hasselbeck again went to Bannister. Not leading receivers Darrell Jackson or Koren Robinson, but Bannister, a player that had three receptions in the regular season.

Al Harris knew it was coming, he saw it coming, he intercepted the pass, and took it back unabated for a game-winning score.

Hasselbeck was right that he'd throw the game-winner, he was just wrong about which team it would be to.

For me, this stood as the most heartbreaking loss for a long time.

January 8, 2005

Rams 27, Seahawks 20

It wasn't exactly deja vu, but a year later the Seahawks let another opportunity slip through their hands. Literally.

They led 20-17 in the fourth quarter and then let the Rams come back to take a 27-20 lead on a Cam Cleeland touchdown catch with 2:11 remaining. Hasselbeck completed a 12-yard pass to Bobby Engram to set up fourth-and-four from the STL 5, but he couldn't manage to connect with Engram on the next play. The ball went by Engram's hands and that ended the game.

Yet another missed opportunity. Yet another year to wait.

February 5, 2006

Steelers (unknown), Seahawks (idk)

At this point we can come to grips with what happened, but the truth is that I was too drunk to remember most of the second half and I've never cared to re-watch the entire game. I don't know what the point would be to even do that. For that reason, this game itself was not as heartbreaking as the one to the Packers two years earlier, though when I came to, it certainly sucked.

January 14, 2007

Bears 27, Seahawks 24 (OT)

You never forget where you are at certain moments of your football fandom, and for some reason I always seem to be in the most random places for these historic Seattle moments. I've never been in the same venue twice when major shit goes down. On January 14, 2007, I was working at a casino and without any expectations of beating the 13-3 Chicago Bears in the playoffs that year, I made the mistake of allowing myself to believe.

It's a broken record at this point though.

The Seahawks led in the fourth quarter, but Robbie Gould made a 41-yard field goal with less than five minutes left to tie the game. Seattle had third-and-one at the Bears 44, but couldn't make a first down for a game-winning field goal try. They even punted and got another opportunity, but with :30 seconds left at the Chicago 45, they couldn't advance the football.

Seattle won the coin toss in OT, but Hasselbeck made no predictions. At least not outloud. The Seahawks punted and the Bears made just one successful play, a 30-yard pass to Rashied Davis, that setup Gould for the 49-yard winning field goal with ten minutes left.

It definitely sucked, but then the next five or six years would show that it's better to make the playoffs and be a contender and lose, than to just suck and lose and lose. Even when those moments, really do break your heart and force you to re-evaluate your priorities.

January 13, 2013

Falcons 30, Seahawks 28

Finally, this is a loss that really made you feel like Seattle might have blown an opportunity to win the Super Bowl. They might have only been a wild card team, but the Seahawks were first in DVOA and arguably had become the best team in football midway through the season.

And this time instead of leading in the fourth quarter and blowing it, Seattle was down 27-7 going into the final stretch before three unanswered touchdowns made it 28-27 with only :31 seconds left. For the Falcons to come back and win this game, they'd have to do something more unbelievable than a 20-point single-quarter comeback on the road.

They did.

When the Seahawks took the lead in that game, it was probably the most excited and happy I had ever been for my team. There were definitely tears of joy that day, real actual tears that I hadn't cried out of my little eyes since the Henderson's forced Harry to go back into the woods.

Seattle was going to the conference title game to show those bastards from San Francisco what's what. Or so we thought.

Jacquizz Rodgers returned it to the 28. Then Matt Ryan hit Harry Douglas for 22 yards. Then Tony Gonzalez for 19 yards. Then Matt Bryant missed a field goal attempt, but Pete Carroll called a timeout. Then he made a field goal attempt. It happened as quickly as you read this paragraph.

For many of us, it was heartbreaking. Devastating. We were dropped from such an emotional high that the impact of the fall to realizing that your season was over, hurt more than I knew sports could hurt. I went home that day and drank myself to sleep, didn't get out of bed for two days.

Fortunately, I also decided then that I would quit smoking and make it my last day as a smoker, rather than the day that the Seahawks blew a sure thing against Atlanta. And a year later, Seattle won the Super Bowl after all.

So take this time to turn a negative into a positive, and make the best of every opportunity. You never know, great things could still be ahead.

So, what is your worst memory as a Seahawks fan?