The 16-game regular season in the NFL has been the norm so long that it’s hard to remember when teams played fewer games.
But there was that time, as the Pro Football Hall of Fame shows in this chart to commemorate today’s 36th anniversary of the owners voting to expand the regular season.
The Nordstrom family was the majority owner of the team, which played its home game in the Kingdome. Jack Patera was the coach. Jim Zorn was the quarterback. Steve Largent was the leading receiver. Sherman Smith was the leading rusher. Dave Brown (’76) and Terry Beeson (’77) were the leading tacklers.
That ’76 season was short on victories, but long on long-anticipated excitement.
“We only won two games that first year,” recalls Zorn, who is now a member of the team’s Ring of Honor along with Largent and Brown. “But you would have thought we almost went to the playoffs. That’s how enthusiastic not only we were, but the fans were. Everybody was excited.”
And what a difference that one season made to the expansion Seahawks. As Smith puts it, “As a team, we definitely felt more like a team in ’77. There was just more familiarity, with what the coaches wanted from us and with what the guy next to you would do on any given play. That first year, it was just getting ready to go and coming to training camp with more than 100 guys. So in ’77, it was a totally different feeling.”
Marshawn Lynch is fashioning a productive career by finding ways to get a lot from a little.
But the Seahawks’ Beast Mode back added a new wrinkle to his habit of getting more yards on most carries than appear to be there. During the 2012 season, when Lynch ran for a career-high 1,590 yards, he produced three of the top four per-carry average games by a running back in franchise history.
And in each instance, he did it with 12 or fewer carries: 11 for 128 yards against the Cardinals on Dec. 9 for an 11.64-yard average; 10 for 113 yards against the Bills on Dec. 16 for an 11.30-yard average; and 12 for 105 yards against the Lions on Oct. 28 for an 8.75-yard average.
Wedged between Lynch’s efforts that sit at No. 2 and No. 4 is the previous record – an 8.86-yard average against the Falcons on Nov. 7, 1976, by Sherman Smith, who now coaches the team’s backs.
If you add quarterbacks to the list, Russell Wilson checks in at No. 3 after averaging 10.2 yards on nine (for 92 yards) in that same December romp over the Bills in Toronto.
Also on the list among running backs: Lawrence McCutcheon, 8.64-yard average against the Cowboys in 1980 (11 carries for 95 yards); and Lynch, 8.17-yard average against the Giants in 2011 (12 carries for 98 yards).
A look at some memorable moments in Seahawks history that occurred on Feb. 4:
1990: Dave Krieg completes 15 of 23 passes for 148 yards and a touchdown, but the NFC wins the Pro Bowl 27-21. Jerry Gray, a cornerback for the Rams who would go on to coach the Seahawks’ defensive backs in 2010, is named MVP after returning an interception 51 yards for a TD and also registering seven tackles. Rufus Porter (two tackles) and Brian Blades (one reception) also represent the Seahawks in the game.
1996: Chris Warren leads the NFC with 43 rushing yards, but the NFC wins the Pro Bowl 20-13.
1998: Jim Johnson is named linebackers coach on Dennis Erickson’s staff. Johnson remains for only one season before becoming the Eagles’ defensive coordinator, but his impact on the Seahawks’ defense is apparent even after he leaves.
2010: First-year coach Pete Carroll announces his staff: Jeremy Bates (offensive coordinator), Gus Bradley (defensive coordinator), Brian Schneider (special teams coordinator), Kippy Brown (wide receivers), Luke Butkus (quality control/offensive line), Dave Canales (quality control/offense), Chris Carlisle (head strength and conditioning), Jedd Fisch (quarterbacks), Mondray Gee (assistant strength and conditioning), Alex Gibbs (offensive line), Jerry Gray (defensive backs), Kris Richard (assistant defensive backs), Rocky Seto (quality control/defense), Sherman Smith (running backs), Jeff Ulbrich (assistant special teams), Art Valero (assistant offensive line) and Jamie Yancher (assistant strength and conditioning).
2012: Cortez Kennedy, in his seventh year of eligibility and fourth year as a finalist, is elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. An eight-time Pro Bowl selection and member of the NFL Team of the Decade for the 1990s as a defensive tackle, Kennedy joins Steve Largent as the only career-long Seahawks player in the Hall.
A look at the memorable moments in Seahawks history that occurred on Dec. 11:
1977: David Sims runs for two touchdowns, Sherman Smith has 149 yards rushing and receiving and another TD and Dave Brown returns an interception for a TD as the Seahawks hold on to win a wild 34-31 game against the Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium after taking a 34-21 lead at halftime.
1983: In a game that features “the holding call heard ’round the Pacific Northwest,” the Seahawks win 17-12 over the Giants at the Meadowlands behind two touchdown passes from Dave Krieg to setup the first playoff appearance in franchise history. The Giants’ Jeff Rutledge passes for an apparent game-winning touchdown on a fourth-and-7 play with 30 seconds to play, but a holding call nullifies the score and his final pass is broken up. The win puts the Seahawks in a situation where they earn a wild-card spot with a victory over the Patriots at the Kingdome on the final weekend of the regular season, which they do.
1988: Curt Warner scores four touchdowns and rushes for 126 yards and John L. Williams has 183 yards rushing and receiving in a 42-14 victory over the Broncos at the Kingdome.
1994: Chris Warren runs for 185 yards and a touchdown and Cortez Kennedy has two of the Seahawks’ six sacks of Billy Joe Tolliver in a 16-14 victory over the Oilers in the Astrodome.
2005: Matt Hasselbeck passes for four touchdowns, including two to Bobby Engram; Shaun Alexander rushes for 108 yards and a TD; and a defense led by Lofa Tatupu (interception) and Marcus Tubbs (two sacks) limits the 49ers to 113 yards in a 41-3 victory in Seattle that is win No. 9 in the team’s club-record 11-game winning streak.
A recap of the Seahawks’ 58-0 victory over the Arizona Cardinals at CenturyLink Field on Sunday:
PLAYERS OF THE GAME
The entire Seahawks team. With a franchise-record 58 points, there was one for each of the 46 players who were active – with bonus points for leading rusher Marshawn Lynch (three touchdowns), cornerback Richard Sherman (two interceptions and a fumble recovery) and rookie middle linebacker Bobby Wagner (two interceptions and a team-high eight tackles).
“This was the true definition of a team victory,” is the way second-year linebacker Mike Morgan summed it up.
We obviously agree, in part because it would be too difficult to select Sherman over Lynch; Lynch over Wagner; Wagner over Sherman. All are deserving, but so are so many others because of the way the Seahawks won this game to up their overall record to 8-5 and their record at CenturyLink Field to 6-0.
“It’s a reward for all of the hard work,” coach Pete Carroll said after the Seahawks secured one more win than they had in their first two season under him – and look like a shoo-in to post the franchise’s first winning record since going 10-6 in 2007.
“You work so hard, and so often the games don’t afford you that opportunity. For everybody to play, everybody to contribute, so many guys can get on the stats sheets and all that stuff – and contribute – it’s really very positive.”
PLAYS OF THE GAME
Offense: The last, and longest, of Lynch’s three touchdown runs. It came on a third-and-4 play early in the second half. It covered 33 yards. It allowed him to tie his career-best for TDs in a game. It was the last of his three carries in the seven-play, 86-yard drive, when he gained 59 of his 128 yards. It was his last carry of the game, and put him at 1,266 for the season – surpassing his single-season rushing best from last year (1,204).
“Marshawn broke a personal record or something today, which is great,” Carroll said.
Defense: Sherman’s first interception, which he returned 19 yards for the Seahawks’ first defensive touchdown of the season. Cardinals QB John Skelton was going to Pro Bowl wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, but instead found Sherman.
“I got my head around and they threw a quick fade,” Sherman said. “Skelton threw the ball with a little lower trajectory. I think he was trying to throw a back-shoulder fade and I happened to get a foot in the ground. Once I got my hands on it, Earl (Thomas, the free safety) did a great job of blocking and then it was just full speed.”
Said Skelton, “It’s a tight window, that is really the one place to go with the ball. I could have helped Larry by putting the ball into his chest. (Sherman) was coming inside, so if I led him he gets hit. It’s a play Larry usually makes. We expect him to make it. But it’s not an excuse for me.”
Special teams: Malcolm Smith’s TD play, which went down as a fumble recovery in the end zone, but actually was a midair pick of a muffed punt by the Cardinals’ Patrick Peterson. Peterson couldn’t handle the ball, which hit the foot of rookie cornerback Jeremy Lane. That’s when Smith snagged the ball for the score.
“I don’t know how I ended up with the ball,” Smith said. “I know the ball was flipping around. Jeremy Lane tipped it up. It tipped off of someone’s hand. And then there was like three of us going for it. It was like a jump ball and I tipped it my way caught it. I guess I was in the end zone.”
Peterson later fumbled a punt return, and the Seahawks had a feeling they’d be able to separate him from the ball.
“We knew that Patrick Peterson was going to give us one, he’s been trying to force a lot of plays,” Morgan said. “It was just one of those things where the ball muffed out. It was big time.”
Lynch left the game in the first half with what was called a back injury. But he not only returned, he ran for that 33-yard TD on the seventh play of the second half.
Veteran linebacker Leroy Hill was active after missing last week’s game because of a sprained ankle, but Smith started on the weakside and finished with three tackles as well as the touchdown on the recovery of the muffed punt in the second quarter.
“He was ready to play,” Carroll said of Hill. “He had a good workout before (the game), so we dressed him in case we needed him. But we would rather hold him, if we could. I don’t know how Malcolm did, but I think he did pretty well again. He looked like he was active.”
The 58 points scored by the Seahawks were the most in franchise history and only the third time they’ve scored more than 50. They had 56 against the Bills in 1977 and 51 against the Chiefs in overtime in 1983.
The 58-0 score also is the largest margin of victory in franchise history, topping 45-0 against the Chiefs in 1984 and 42-0 against the Eagles in 2005.
The Seahawks’ six takeaways in the first half was a franchise record and their eight for the game ties for second-most behind the 10 they had against the Browns in 1981.
With Lynch rushing for 128 yards and rookie Robert Turbin adding 108, the Seahawks had two 100-yard rushers in a game for the first time since 2005 – when Shaun Alexander (141) and Maurice Morris (104) did it against the Texans.
The Seahawks’ 284 rushing yards were the fourth-highest total in franchise history. They had 320 in that 2005 game against the Texans; 319 in a 2001 game against the Raiders; and 298 in a 1986 game against the Broncos.
Lynch’s 100-yard effort was his seventh of the season, one more than his previous high from last season.
With his 128 yards coming on only 11 carries, Lynch also set a franchise record for rushing average (11.6). The previous record was held by Sherman Smith, who now coaches the team’s running backs. He averaged 8.9 yards in a game against the Falcons in 1976.
With his 20th TD pass of the season, Russell Wilson tied the mark for third-most by a rookie QB. Peyton Manning had 26 and Cam Newton 21. Andy Dalton and Dan Marino also threw 20. And Wilson has three games left.
Wilson’s second-quarter interception was his first at home this season.
Tight end Anthony McCoy not only surpassed 100 receiving yards for the first time in his three-year career, his three-catch, 105-yard day was the first 100-yard outing by a Seahawks receiver this season. He also became the fourth tight end in franchise history to surpass 100 receiving yards – joining Charle Young (140 in 1983), Itula Mili (119 in 2002) and John Carlson (105 in 2008).
The Seahawks passed the ball only 22 times – 7 of 13 by Wilson and 5 of 9 by Matt Flynn, who saw his first action of the season.
The Seahawks were penalized 10 times for 97 yards. “It was crazy stuff that happened,” Carroll said. “Other than that, that was really the only thing that we didn’t get done today.”
YOU DON’T SAY
“My feelings were hurt, he hit me so hard.” – wide receiver Sidney Rice, who took a vicious shot from safety Rashad Johnson in the fourth quarter but held on and got up to spin the ball for emphasis.
A look at some memorable moments in Seahawks history that occurred on Dec. 8:
1979: Steve Largent catches a 43-yard touchdown pass from Jim Zorn in the fourth quarter as the Seahawks pull out a 28-23 victory over the Broncos at the Kingdome. The decisive catch is Largent’s second TD of the game, and Sherman Smith also runs for two touchdowns.
1985: Dave Krieg throws four touchdown passes, including two to Daryl Turner, and the defense sacks Bernie Kosar six times, including three by Jacob Green, in a 31-13 victory over the Browns at the Kingdome.
1986: On a wild and raucous Monday night at the Kingdome, the defense registers 11 sacks and three interceptions while holding the Raiders to 138 yards. The offensive contributions to the 37-0 shutout include Curt Warner running for 116 yards and two touchdowns and Dave Krieg throwing TD passes to Steve Largent and Ray Butler.
1991: John Taylor catches a 15-yard touchdown passes from Steve Bono early in the fourth quarter and the 49ers hold the lead for a 24-22 victory at the Kingdome. John Kasay kicks three field goals for the Seahawks.
1996: The Seahawks jump to a 16-0 lead and hold on for a 26-18 victory over the Bills at the Kingdome as Todd Peterson kicks four field goals and Chris Warren runs for 116 yards. With Rick Mirer completing 9 of 24 passes, Rick Tuten is called upon to punt nine times and averages 46.3 yards with a long of 66 yards.
2002: The Seahawks fall behind 27-6, rally on two second-half touchdown passes by Matt Hasselbeck but still lose 27-20 to the Eagles in Seattle. Shaun Alexander runs for 123 yards.
A look at some memorable moments in Seahawks history that occurred on Nov. 28:
1976: Jim Zorn and Sherman Smith run for touchdowns, but the expansion Seahawks lose to the Giants 28-16 at the Kingdome.
1982: The Seahawks post the third shutout in club history, but first at the Kingdome, as Kenny Easley and John Harris intercept passes, Norm Johnson kicks three field goals and Steve Largent catches five passes for 109 yards in a 16-0 victory over the Steelers.
1988: Dave Krieg ties his club record by passing for five touchdowns and Curt Warner (130) and John L. Williams (105) become the Seahawks’ first tandem to rush for 100 yards in a same game during a 35-27 victory over the Raiders at the Kingdome on “Monday Night Football.”
1999: The Buccaneers intercept Jon Kitna five times in a 16-3 victory at the Kingdome, the start of a 1-5 finish for the Seahawks after they started their first season under coach Mike Holmgren 8-2.
2005: Mike Holmgren presents the game ball from a 24-21 overtime victory the day before to the 12th Man for the crowd’s help in generating 16 Giants’ penalties, including 11 false starts.
A look at some memorable moments in Seahawks history that occurred on Nov. 21:
1976: Sherman Smith scores on a pair of 1-yard runs and Steve Largent catches six passes for 101 yards and a TD, but it’s not enough as the expansion Seahawks fall to the Saints 51-27 at the Kingdome.
1982: In their first game after the eight-week NFL players’ strike, and with Mike McCormack taking over as interim coach for Jack Patera, Steve Largent catches a 34-yard touchdown pass from Jim Zorn with 49 seconds left in a 17-10 victory over the Broncos in Denver.
1999: Ricky Watters scores three touchdowns, two rushing and one receiving, as he compiles 174 combined yards in a 31-19 victory in Kansas City, where the Seahawks had lost their previous eight games against the Chiefs.
2004: Michael Boulware intercepts a pass and returns it 63 yards for the touchdown with 56 seconds to play in a 24-17 victory over the Dolphins in Seattle. Trent Dilfer also throws a 21-yard TD pass to Jerry Rice.
2010: Matt Hasselbeck passes for 366 yards, with Mike Williams catching six passes for 109 yards, and David Hawthorne has 12 tackles and an interception. But the defending Super Bowl champion Saints prevail 34-19 in New Orleans. The game is a prelude to the team’s rematch in a wild-card playoff game in Seattle that season.
A look at some memorable moments in Seahawks history that occurred on Nov. 11:
1979: Sherman Smith runs for three touchdowns, including one in the fourth quarter, as the Seahawks pull out a 29-24 victory over the Browns in Cleveland.
1990: Dave Krieg throws a 25-yard touchdown pass to Paul Skansi as time expires, after whirling from what appears to be an eighth sack by Derrick Thomas, as the Seahawks beat the Chiefs 17-16 in Kansas City. It is the Seahawks’ first win at Arrowhead Stadium since 1980; as well as the 159th of coach Chuck Knox’s career, moving him into seventh place on the NFL’s all-time list.
2001: Shaun Alexander runs for a franchise-record 266 yards and three touchdowns, including an 88-yarder, in a 34-27 victory over the Raiders at Husky Stadium.
A look at some memorable moments in Seahawks history that occurred on Nov. 7:
1976: The expansion Seahawks capture their first regular-season victory at home with a 30-13 win over the Atlanta Falcons at the Kingdome as Sherman Smith becomes the first Seahawk to post a 100-yard rushing performance (124 yards on 14 carries).
1999: Jon Kitna passes for three touchdowns, Ricky Watters scores twice as part of a 133-yard rushing effort and defensive tackle Cortez Kennedy intercepts a pass in a 37-20 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals at the Kingdome.
2004: Shaun Alexander rushes for 160 yards and two touchdowns; Matt Hasselbeck passes for three TDs, including two to Darrell Jackson, who has five catches for 114 yards; and linebacker Anthony Simmons returns an interception for a score in a 42-27 victory over the 49ers in San Francisco.