clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

The Seahawks Flashback: Kansas City Chiefs at Seattle Seahawks, 1983

New, comments

If you buy something from an SB Nation link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

Malcolm Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

**This Commentary should be heard in conjunction with this piece. It contains news, notes and tidbits from the 1983 Season.

A correction and three additions:

1) Steve Largent utters the quote following the loss to Denver and heading into this game, not Dave Krieg

2) In 1985, Chuck Knox also traded a 1st round selection to Cincinnati to obtain the services of center Blair Bush, to finish off the key offensive additions for Knox's new look Seahawks

3) Special Teams coach Rusty Tilman was a very unfortunate omission from my notes because ProFootballReference does not track special teams coaches. Tilman arrived in Seattle as special teams coach in 1979 and was the only man to remain from the Jack Patera Regime following Jack's firing in 1982. He would remain in Seattle in various roles until 1994.

4) Seattle obtained the #3 pick in the 1983 draft by trading their 1, 2, and 3 selections to the Houston Oilers, who then turned Seattle's 9th selection into Bruce Mathews.

--------------------

A team on the brink

Setting the stage

It's Week 13, 1983. Seattle is 6-6, and Kansas City is holding on at 5-7. Seattle had just come off of a self-inflicted wound of a contest in Denver the previous week, where the team lost 38-27 thanks to eight (!!) turnovers including four Interceptions by Dave Krieg. Steve Largent's quote after the game was "We slit our own throats."

In need for an offensive spark, the Seahawks made the switch at quarterback from Jim Zorn to Dave Krieg following their week 8 contest against the Redskins, but they continue the trend of .500 play. The defense's recent switch from a 4-3 to a 3-4 concept is a bit streaky and unsound. It has its moments, but Dave Krieg and the offense need to step up after the disaster in Denver the previous week.

Chuck Knox is not a happy guy, and facing a spread'em out team in Kansas City that leads the league in passing attempts -- 38 --per game. This means that the show is on the shoulders of this third year QB in Krieg and a rookie sensation at tailback who leads the conference in rushing, Curt Warner.

An unexpected start

The Chiefs open with two nice runs by Theotis Brown (who was cut from Seattle following training camp earlier in the season), which was very unexpected because at that point Kansas City was last in rushing at just 77 yards per game. A half-back pass that was defensed well initially by free safety John Harris ends in a 33-yard run for Kansas City halfback. Two plays later, things look up as Seattle puts the Chiefs in a 3rd and 15, but Chiefs head coach John Mackovic pulls his second trick play out of the bag -- a double reverse to Carlos Carson gains 18-yards and first down. The drive is eventually capped off on an 11-yard touchdown pass by Bill Kenney to Henry Marshall between Kenny Easly and Keith Simpson

Seattle doesn't fare as well, as their first possession goes nowhere. Curt Warner opens with a bounce out left which gains 11-yards. Two go-routes are dropped by Paul Johns. (The second one was tough.)

Nonetheless, Seattle's second ranked punt team pins Kansas City inside their ten yard line. Jeff West, who had a net average of 39.9 yards, routinely kicked high kicks that clocked between 4.3-4.6 seconds. (Ryan Plackemeir has dreams of being that good.)

The Chefs drive stalls out after a drop on 3rd and 10, and this creates good field position for the Seahawks who start around their own 40 yard line. However, it appears nothing has changed as a run generates -1 yard and then Paul Johns drops another pass, creating a 3rd and 11. Dave Krieg slides a bit in the pocket as left tackle Ron Essink winds up on his belly trying to block the Chiefs Pro Bowl defensive end Mike Bell. Krieg drifts right just enough to allow fourth string wideout Byron Walker to open up and make a 17-yard catch for a first down. No panic, just a smooth play.

Curt Warner arrives with a wicked stop move on a run right that freezes two defenders, and gains 12. Then, after a short run up the middle by Cullen Bryant. (you know, back when fullbacks ran the ball), on 2nd and 6, Seattle catches the Chiefs in a line shift left, which leaves the middle wide open, and Warner shifts right through with a beautiful cut and safety Deron Cherry can't close out. The end result is a 28-yard TD run by Warner. The game is tied 7-7 at the end of the first quarter. A truly unexpected start. Warner has 6 carries for 64 yards and a touchdown.

The Flood Gates Open

The Chiefs go right back to the wide open passing offense they're known for. Seattle attempts to combat this with an 80 defensive back formation, or so the broadcasters tell me. (A game like this makes you appreciate the complete wide angle views of HD television). Carlos Carson is getting the better of recent USFL addition Kerry Justin, who is playing opposite Dave Brown. 13 yards here, 10 yards there another 14 after that -- they are clearly attacking this poor kid.

To answer the sudden flurry, Seattle tries a blitz against the Cheifs, who have a patch-work offensive line starting three rookies. They run three consecutive blitzes with LOLB Bruce Scholtz. Third time's the charm, as Scholtz gets home on Seattle's 34-yard line.

This is quickly followed up, though, with defensive holding on the Seahawks. (Mic trouble for the head official meant sporadic information on penalties and decisions, which will play a factor in this game.) On the next play, a miss on a deep seam throw leaves Seahawk fans in the Kingdome breathing a palpable sigh of relief. It's short-lived though, as the Chiefs just dial up the same play to the same player, Stephone Paige, and get a 17-yard touchdown pass as a reward.

Chiefs lead 14-7.

Seattle attempts to answer on the ensuing drive by running Curt Warner. It starts with an 8-yard bounce out left, but the next play both Ron Essink and Reggie Mckenzie crush Mike Bell and Gary Spainey and open a huge gap -- Warner exploits it for 25 yards. The drive ends in a whimper though, as the passing offense fails to match pace with the impressive rookie. Norm Johnson compounds the disappointment by Missing a 49-yard field goal.

Side note: Norm Johnson was 5-6 from this distance (45+ yards )before that miss. The league's kicking situation was gross compared to modern times, but Norm Johnson would be part of a wave of new big highly skilled booming kickers that would rewrite history, which previously had seen kickers with 65% make rates considered average. He also could get touchbacks on kickoffs despite the fact that they had to be kicked from the 25 yard line.

So, after the missed field goal, Seattle's defense outlasts a few good Theotis Brown runs and a pass to force the Chiefs to punt from their own 47. Seattle gets themselves outside jail (inside the 5 yard line) to their own 16. The next set of downs goes poorly though as Dave Krieg is sacked by linebacker Calvin Daniels, who came on a late inside rush between Ron Essink and Reggie McKenzie. This should have been a sack fumble but because of a new rule called "in the grasp" the officials blow the play dead. It's not the last time this would crop up.

The reprieve doesn't save them however, as the Chiefs accept a penalty on the same play for illegal use of the hands by Robert Pratt, the right guard. This pins Seattle all the way back to their 6 yard line, where disaster finally decides to finish off the Seahawks on 2nd and 29.

A botched inside hand-off to Warner sends the ball falling to the turf. Dave Krieg looked like he wanted to pull and throw it, but hesitated and then tried to shovel it forward -- but his tiny hands had lost control well before the throwing motion anyway. This puts the Chiefs on the 1-yard line, and as if to say thanks, Bill Kenny punches it in on a QB sneak on their first down play. Seattle's offense looks like an absolute flaming pile of wreckage.

21-7 Chiefs lead.

Special Teams to The Rescue

On the ensuing kickoff, Zach Dixon returns the ball 32 yards from his own 1-yard line and Seattle, who is first in kickoff coverage and third in return yardage at just over 24 yards per return, shows why two kickoffs by Kansas City were popped up instead of kicked deep.

Zach Dixon of course is one of Chuck Knox's finds from the scrap heap as I explained in the flashback notes and commentary.

Seattle then is able to grab a little momentum as Steve Largent catches his first pass of the day for 25 yards on a play-action fake. There is yet another drop by Paul Johns, but this one he actually gets poked in the eye. Leave him alone his mama is watching.

Byron Walker saves the day though, nabbing a 23-yard pass on just his 8th catch of year and meeting his 22.5 yards per catch average. So, what do you do when something works? You call it again and this time a 3-reciever combo on the right side opens up Byron Walker for an 18-yard touchdown catch.

Chiefs lead  21-14.

Seattle's kickoff team feels a momentum swing in their midst, and pins Kansas City at their own 15-yard line. A pass to Carlos Carson, again working Kerry Justin, appears to put that notion to bed, but the mettle of John Mackovic is all about flash and air. He calls a screen pass, which is defensed beautifully by the Seahawks, and that kills any momentum as the Chiefs follow the failed play with two missed deep shots. Kansas City punts with under two minutes to go in second quarter.

Dave Krieg is a competitor, and sometimes you see that get the better of him. Rather than stay patient, he forces a bad ball into triple coverage and it is intercepted. The defense has little time to rally here, and eventually the Chiefs score a late touchdown against a blitz by Kenny Easly, which leaves Theotis Brown all alone vs a nicely blocked Keith Simpson, who can't make a play. 13 yards later, touchdown Kansas City.

Chiefs lead 28-14 at the half.

Help us, please

The Chiefs pop up yet another kickoff coming out of halftime. David Hughes actually misjudges the flight of the ball and almost fumbles it away, but Seattle keeps it and starts a long trek uphill against an offense that can seemingly put forty on you if they really want to.

It doesn't go well. Krieg fumbles a second down snap from rookie Kani Kauahi, then throws a near interception intended for Paul Johns. Seattle punts. They needed help here and they got some from the football gods.The first play on the next drive for the Chiefs, halfback Ken Thomas fumbles the football (it actually looks like he just dropped it) as inside linebacker Shelton Robinson makes contact around his knees and ankles. The ball bounces comically on the astro-turf but Dave Brown is able to pull it in before sliding out of bounds.

The Seahawks look to be in business, but the gods can be fickle beings and Dave Krieg gets sacked by Dino Mangerio and another fumble is negated by this "In the grasp" call. Krieg follows his good luck with a bad decision to throw deep to Paul Johns that is nearly intercepted.

Jim Zorn, who has been noted as having begun warming up in earnest, has his helmet fastened on.

As I said, the gods can be fickle. Seattle catches the Chiefs in an all-out outside blitz, leaving the middle of the field wide open and man to man coverage. Enter Doctor Dan Doornink, as he runs a simple angle route and burns Chiefs' safety Deron Cherry for a 27-yard touchdown. He has 23 catches in the season, all on 3rd down, 17 have gone for first downs.

28-21, Chiefs lead.

On the following kickoff, the coverage team decided that instead of pinning the Chiefs back, they would just take the ball back from them and that's what they did -- Joe Norman forces a fumble from returner Anthony Hancock. Seattle's offense didn't even have a chance to get water or exchange conversation much, but despite this, Chuck Knox, who's not known as a gameday yeller, is absolutely lighting up Dave Krieg just before the kickoff.

The next drive features one throw to Largent for 7 yards, and the rest of the plays are runs, including a nice beastly 3-broken tackle run by the old man Cullen Bryant, who sets up Seattle with 1st and goal at the one. Cue up a Walter Payton homage as Curt Warner jumps over the line for the touchdown.

Two turnovers, two touchdowns. Game tied 28-28

It's a Prize Fight Here!

The drive for the Kansas City team has all the signs of shock of the momentum shift, as Bill Kenny, who has been up and down all day as a passer (completing just 52% of his throws) starts targeting Dave Brown. Dave defects back to back passes to Henry Marshall, who had the touchdown to open the Chiefs scoring. The 3rd down play results in what would likely be called roughing the passer now, as Jeff Bryant works off of Joe Nash to get inside on a late rush. He launches himself at Kenny, who is standing sturdy, trying to launch a deep seam pass as he gets whacked.

The punt allows Paul Johns a 15-yard return. He had a lane but tripped a bit. Seattle starts on their own 43-yard line. Steve Largent makes a sick catch for another 25-yards on a similar first down play action pass, but Krieg underthrows the ball. Steve is coming out of his break as the ball is falling to the turf and he lays out to grab it. (Watch the Play here.) The drive stalls after two short, well defensed runs, and a miss to Largent in the endzone that should have been called pass interference.

A Norm Johnson field goal salvages the drive 31-28 Seahawks lead.

The Chiefs have to rally, and instead of featuring their passing game, they open with a 13-yard delay draw to Ken Thomas. The defense is caught and it's back to being lost in the back seven very quickly. Keith Butler picks up a facemask penalty, which is followed up when Kenny Easley nearly goes shoulder blow into the kidneys of the Chiefs' tight end, Willie Scott who takes exception with the play (as he was already near the ground). He throws the football at the back of Kenny Easley and I can only imagine what he might of done had Scott done it in his face.

This bit of mess is followed by a nice pair of pass break-ups by Dave Brown and Kerry Justin to force a 3rd and 10. This sets up a pass for Henry Marshall, again caught between Kenny Easley and Keith Simpson. This time Kenny makes him pay though, with a nasty shot to the chest. Marshall hangs on somehow and the drive continues.

Carlos Carson catches a 28-yard pass and after a nice 6 yard run by Theotis Brown, Bill Kenney calls his own number again and plunges in for a 1-yard TD on a QB sneak.

35-31 Chiefs.

The Seahawks try to answer back as Warner dips his hips and freezes two defenders for anther 13-yard run. This puts him at 17 carries for 134 yards and 2 touchdowns. He is just 18 yards from Sherman Smith's single game franchise rushing record of 152 set against the Chicago Bears in 1978.

The following play Dave Krieg is sacked by Mike Bell, when Reggie McKenzie gets smoked on a bull rush.  However, Byron Walker salvages the Seahawks chances on a 3rd and 17 when he catches a pass for 25 yards. Thus ends the 3rd quarter.

35-31 Chiefs lead.

Old Habits

The drive seems to be going well as the 4th quarter gets underway. A scramble by Krieg and a nice short pass and run by Warner has Seattle at the 12-yard line of Kansas City. However, what looks like a mix up or perhaps a QB draw from the blocking scheme, Dave Krieg fumbles, which is then picked up and returned 35-yards by Dino Mangiero. As a run stopper, the guy had issues, but all day he's been giving rookie Kani Kauahi fits as a pass rusher.

The following play, Dave Brown and Kenny Easley miscommunicate deep coverage responsibility, and Carlos Carson burns them both for 35 yards. The play afterward, Carlos Carson burns Kerry Justin on a pump fake double move resulting in a Chiefs touchdown.

42-31 Chiefs lead.

There have now been five turnovers in the game and all five have resulted in the takeaway team scoring a touchdown on the change in possession. Chuck Knox is again tearing into Dave Krieg on the sideline. Zorn is nowhere to be seen though -- he's probably talking about Denver and: "Stop fumbling you big jerk"

The drive opens with a nice pass to Charle Young for 18-yards. Charle does a nice job getting off the block of one linebacker while tucking himself in front of another. Zone busters are tight ends. Tight ends are zone busters. Charle added an element that Seattle lacked from most of it's history -- a receiving threat at the tight end spot. The position would become a revolving door after Young retired though.

Curt Warner then breaks the single game rushing mark set by Sherman Smith on his featured run. a deep toss sweep.

Our backs against the wall

John Mackovic wasn't the only one with trick plays. After the toss to Warner, Paul Johns gets the ball on a reverse and gains 26 yards deep into Chiefs' territory. The drive stalls out though to a 4th and 4 from the 12-yard line. So, Seattle runs another trick play.

This time, Steve Largent comes on a reverse look while Krieg is in shotgun but instead of running takes the ball from from Krieg, who now drifts out as if to block. Cue a weird hanger of a lob that Krieg adjusts to like a natural wide receiver, and you have a beautiful 11-yard catch. A 1 yard plunge by Warner and it's now 42-38 Chiefs.

The drive for the Chiefs again starts inside their 20-yard line. The one early big play has been crazy huge in momentum on every drive for both teams it seems, defensively or offensively, as Jeff Bryant bats a Kenney pass up in the air which Kenney catches himself and tries to run with. He takes quite a lick and nearly fumbles but controls the ball for a 1-yard run. The third down that follows has Joe Nash saying hello to Bill before he can get off a throw to Carlos Carson.

The punt comes as Paul Johns gets another 17 yards on a return. The Seattle drive opens with a nice toss for 9 yards for Curt Warner. Charle Young picks up a first down by beating tougher coverage than his last catch, and then Curt Warner's 29th carry puts him at 183 yards and 3 touchdowns.

Dave Krieg misses Cullen Bryant when he scrambles on 3rd and 6, and winds up pulling the linebacker off Bryant. The momentary decision flux causes Krieg to float the ball 2-steps too far. It's now 4th and 6 from the Kansas City 14 yard line.

What do you do? Whose name do you call?

Well, Paul Johns' name of course! Krieg moves up into the pocket as he sets up to pass. They use a combination with Steve "I draw double teams" Largent, who ends up drawing the eyes of three defenders. Seeing that the defender that's playing him is drifting toward Steve, Johns works his way back outside from him dig route and wide open for his only catch of the day on 7 targets. A 14-yard touchdown gives Seattle the lead.

45-42 Seahawks.

Norm Johnson sets up everything with a touchback. and 2:21 left. on the clock

A Final Flurry

(You can guess by the bold text that this isn't over. Sorry, I didn't add spoiler alert or something.) Bill Kenney's first pass is incomplete to Theotis Brown, followed by a 5-yard run to Ken Thomas on a draw. 3rd and 5, however, discovered a missing person as Stephone Paige made just his second catch of the game, a 29-yard bomb which 4th string Seahawks' corner Greggory Johnson had no chance to contest.

The next play, Dave Brown goes to the risk/reward well as he attempts to jump a route to Carlos Carson. He misses by a good yard and the space created ends in a 24-yard pass play. After another pass is incomplete to Carson, Theotis Brown lashes out as the defense attempts to play field goal football in the redzone. Brown gets great leverage against the coverage of Greggory Johnson and it ends with 21-yard pass for a touchdown.

Chiefs lead 48-45

This start isn't everything

Zach Dixon has just his second chance to return a kickoff today. It ends up a lead balloon as he gets stopped at the 16 of Seattle. When disaster strikes and you're ill, call a doctor. Dave Krieg ends up under a heavy rush again as Dino Mangiero almost picks up a sack, but Krieg keeps his feet and finds Dan Doornink out of the backfield for 18-yards. The next two plays see an incompletion to Largent on a bench route (designed to be a short out of bounds play to stop the clock).

The second was a pass to Paul Johns, who was matched up with a linebacker (this is actually the 7th target here.) On 3rd and 10, Doctor Dan reaches out his healing hands for 11-yards. A little confusion and an injury to Reggie McKenzie causes time to drain down to 32 seconds. The next pass is a batted ball which stops the clock with 27 seconds. Seattle is now at their own 45 yard line.

Harold Jackson, a 16-year veteran receiver familiar with Ray Prochaska's offense, makes a catch for 29-yards out of nowhere. He gets himself tucked under the run-off routes of Largent and Johns and makes a fantastic catch and a great run after that puts the Seahawks in field goal range with 17 seconds left.

Call my name once....

Sometimes coach's decisions are weird. You can yell and beg and plead and scream and cry. In the end the only thing you know is what they choose to tell you. This leads me to the two pass plays that follow: They throw two sideline fades to Byron Walker. The first one is fine, Krieg throws it where only Byron can challenge for a catch, but the second one, Krieg's throw drives too far inside and is nearly intercepted. Thankfully the Kingdome turf broke it up as it did so many times.

Norm Johnson ends the madness of the fans as he kicks a 42-yard field go to force overtime.

48-48 Game tied. Overtime.

Seattle wins the toss and receives.

Zach Dixon returns it 47-yards into Kansas City territory, ending at their 48-yard line.

Curt Warner gets his 30th carry, and goes 17 yards, stiff-arming Deron Cherry putting him right at 200 yards. He follows that up with a 5 yard and 2 yard run. His record total of 32 carries for 207 yards would stand until Shaun Alexander would break it 18 years later against the Oakland Raiders on Sunday Night Football.

And of course, Norm Johnson was good from 42 yards. The day was won.

---------

If you listen to my podcast, Pete Gross who was Seattle's original radio announcer, the audio of his call on the final Norm Johnson kick is the close to my podcasts.

And, so drawn to a close is one of the most thrilling, frustrating, confusing, aching games in Seahawks' franchise history. A game that would end the Chiefs' chances in the division and help Seattle gain ground as Denver wound up side swiped by the Chargers and a returning Dan Fouts.

This game saved Dave Krieg's job, as it demonstrated all the good and bad the young man had to offer. His toughness became a signature for this franchise in the decade of the 80's, and the nickname teammates gave him of Mudbone referencing both his style of play and his beat-up dirty pickup truck, make more and more sense after this performance. It is rarely pretty, but it'll get you there if it can.

In Memory of Pete Gross 1936 -1992

In Memory of Dave Brown 1953 -2006