The word “classic,” as it is used in sports, has pretty much been bludgeoned, if not to death, then at least as severely as Kam Chancellor separated Vernon Davis from his senses in the Seahawks’ 42-13 victory over San Francisco Sunday night at CenturyLink Field.
But there are times when a game carries a memory beyond a big result. It’s when conditions and circumstances combine with apex moments to create an experience that will stay on tongues and in the minds of all who watched.
Such was the case Sunday at the Clink, when the Seahawks turned a “pick ’em” into a pounding, and left their raucous fans with one of the memorable games in franchise history.
We offer up four home contests, listed chronologically, from recent Seahawks history that more than meet the definition of memorable. After the first, which enabled Seattle to reach the Super Bowl for the first time, thousands of fans flooded Pioneer Square and celebrated for hours.
The second included one of the most remarkable individual plays in Northwest sports history, the third turned in Seattle’s favor on a gigantic gaffe, and no oddsmaker anticipated the developments in the fourth. These were those games:
Seahawks Win NFC Title, Reach Super Bowl / Jan. 22, 2006
Seahawks 34, Panthers 14: Fans chanted “Super Bowl, Super Bowl” as Shaun Alexander carried the NFC championship trophy around Qwest Field, a joyous trip 30 years in the making.
Alexander, a magnificent defense and home-field advantage combined perfectly to help the Seahawks rout the Carolina Panthers 34-14 in the NFC title game.
“I think we got people excited about football again here in the Pacific Northwest,” coach Mike Holmgren said. “They’re all coming to Detroit (for the Super Bowl) with us, everybody in the stadium’s coming. They were great for us all year. Home-field advantage in this place means everything.”
Alexander, the league’s MVP, returned from a concussion to rush for a team playoff-record 132 yards and two touchdowns, and Seattle pressured Carolina stars Jake Delhomme and Steve Smith into oblivion.
“We have an unbelievable team, an unbelievable group of fans,” Alexander said. “Prayer works. I get knocked out and guys step up. One guy goes down and another guy steps up.”
The Seahawks intercepted three passes in winning their 12th consecutive home game and shattering the fifth-seeded Panthers’ stunning postseason road run.
Owner Paul Allen raised the team’s 12th man flag before kickoff, then waved a white towel to whip the crowd of 67,837 into a frenzy. What really got the fans going was when Holmgren sent in backup quarterback Seneca Wallace as a wideout, then Hasselbeck threw to him. Wallace, one of the better athletes in the NFL, made a superb over-the-shoulder catch for 28 yards.
The Wildest Of Wild Card Games / Jan. 6, 2007
Seahawks 21, Cowboys 20: All QB/holder Tony Romo had to do was put the ball down and let Martin Gramatica make an easy kick, just 19 yards, that would have eliminated the Seahawks from the playoffs. Instead, Romo’s bobble with 1:19 left led to a scramble that ended with Jordan Babineaux tackling Romo two yards shy of the end zone, preserving Seattle’s victory.
“You coach long enough, you end up seeing just about everything,” said Holmgren. “This is one more thing for the journal.”
After protecting a 20-13 lead with a stop by the defense, the Cowboys fell behind when Terry Glenn’s fumble turned into a safety. Seattle followed with a 37-yard touchdown pass from Hasselbeck to Jerramy Stevens. But with Dallas down a point and 4:24 left, Romo drove the Cowboys back down the field and into position for the win.
He moved the Cowboys from their 28 to the Seattle two, where a pass to Jason Witten was initially ruled a first down before a replay showed the Cowboys were short. Dallas coach Bill Parcells seemed tempted to go for it on fourth-and-1, leaving his offense on the field until Seattle called a timeout. Then he sent in Gramatica, who had already hit from 50 and 29 yards.
Gramatica never swung his leg, instead forced to get out of the way as Romo picked up the ball and darted left to try to make up for his mistake. Romo never reached the end zone — or the first-down marker, stopped at the two on a shoestring tackle by Babineaux.
With that, Seattle’s rabid fans began smacking together the Shrek-colored gloves they’d been given, producing their loudest cheer of the night.
Seahawks Shock Defending Super Bowl Champs / Jan. 8, 2011
Seahawks 41, Saints 36: Hasselbeck, playing in what turned out to be his final game with Seattle, threw four touchdown passes and Marshawn Lynch scored on an electrifying 67-yard run with 3:22 left to clinch the first playoff victory by a losing team in NFL history — against the defending Super Bowl champs, no less.
The Seahawks (8-9) held a 34-20 early in the fourth quarter before Drew Brees looked ready to lead the Saints (11-6) on another of their amazing comebacks. But then Lynch provided a run that will be replayed in the Northwest for years.
He took a second-down carry with less than four minutes to go and then the highlights began. He broke six tackles on his long run as eight Saints had hands on Lynch, who also tossed in a massive stiff-arm that sent cornerback Tracy Porter sprawling to the turf to complete the longest scoring run of Lynch’s career.
“That was the most unbelievable, unrealistic play I’ve ever seen in the history of football,” Seattle linebacker Aaron Curry said. “It was just unreal. It seems just like a routine football play, then he takes it to another level.”
After the game, Hasselbeck, recognizing it might be his last in a Seahawks uniform, walked off the field to a rousing ovation with his son propped on his shoulders.
“It wasn’t just one thing, it felt like everyone did a little something to help us get the win,” Hasselbeck said. “It was just an awesome feeling.”
Seahawks Roll 49ers In Another Huge Rout / Dec. 23, 2012
Seahawks 42, 49ers 13: Russell Wilson threw four touchdown passes, two to Doug Baldwin, Richard Sherman returned a blocked field goal 90 yards for a touchdown (third-longest in NFL history) and the Seahawks overwhelmed the division-leading 49ers to clinch their first playoff spot since 2010.
The Seahawks, who also received rushing and receiving touchdowns from Lynch, rolled to a 28-6 halftime lead and cruised to an easy victory.
“That crowd was crazy. They were great,” said Seahawks coach Pete Carroll. “And I’m so thrilled we were able to share it with them. They deserve a playoff team and they got it.”
Seattle became the first team since 1950 to score at least 50 points in consecutive weeks with its 58-0 win over Arizona and 50-17 encore against Buffalo. It seemed inconceivable the scoring binge could continue against San Francisco, which sported the best scoring defense in the NFL. But it did, giving Seattle a 150-30 advantage against three consecutive opponents.
Making that stat possible was another stat: The Seahawks went 11 for 13 on third-down conversions.
“There’s no way we thought we were going to beat this team like this,” said Sherman.