Since 2002, 18 teams, including the Seahawks, started a season 10-1 or better. The 17 before Seattle all won division titles and six reached the Super Bowl, three winning it.
Although Russell Wilson completed a mere 13 passes and Marshawn Lynch fell well shy of 100 rushing yards (54), the Seahawks rolled to another impressive victory Sunday at CenturyLink Field, crushing the Minnesota Vikings 41-20 to extend their record to 10-1, best in franchise history.
Two key stats in the rout: the Seahawks held Adrian Peterson to 65 yards on 21 carries, but more importantly to 27 yards after contact. Peterson’s 1.28 yards after contact per rush marked his third-lowest average this season. In addition, Seattle finished with a +4 in takeaways. The Seahawks have played 45 games in their nearly four decades in which they had a takeaway edge of +4 or greater, and their record in those contests is 45-0.
The advantage in takeaways, abetted by Wilson’s two perfect TD passes, Lynch’s three scores, and Percy Harvin’s theatrics, enabled the Seahawks to become the 18th team since 2002, when the NFL adopted its current division alignment, to start a season 10-1 or better.
Here’s what we know about the previous 17: All qualified for the playoffs – easily — and all finished first in their divisions. Six – 35.3 percent — reached the Super Bowl, three winning it. Four others reached a conference championship game, falling just shy of Super Sunday, while seven other teams lost in the divisional playoffs.
Of the four teams that lost in conference championship games, three — 2007 Packers, 2009 Vikings, 2012 Falcons — did so by a combined margin of 10 points.
Fate Of Teams That Started A Season 10-1 Or Better
|2007||Patriots||16-0||16-0||Lost Super Bowl to Giants 17-14|
|2004||Steelers||15-1||15-1||Lost AFC Championship to Patriots 41-27|
|2009||Colts||14-1||14-2||Lost Super Bowl to New Orleans 16-3|
|2004||Eagles||13-1||13-3||Lost Super Bowl to Patriots 24-21|
|2005||Colts||13-1||14-2||Lost divisional playoff to Steelers 21-18|
|2009||Saints||13-1||13-3||Won Super Bowl, defeating Colts 31-17|
|2011||Packers||13-1||15-1||Lost divisional playoff to Giants 37-20|
|2004||Patriots||12-1||14-2||Won Super Bowl, defeating Eagles 24-21|
|2007||Cowboys||12-1||13-3||Lost divisional playoff to Giants 21-17|
|2008||Titans||12-1||13-3||Lost divisional playoff to Ravens 13-10|
|2003||Chiefs||11-1||13-3||Lost divisional playoff to Colts 38-31|
|2008||Giants||11-1||12-4||Lost divisional playoff to Eagles 23-11|
|2012||Falcons||11-1||13-3||Lost NFC Championship to 49ers 28-24|
|2012||Texans||11-1||12-4||Lost divisional playoff to Patriots 41-28|
|2006||Colts||10-1||12-4||Won Super Bowl, defeating Bears 29-17|
|2007||Packers||10-1||13-3||Lost NFC Championship to Giants 23-20|
|2009||Vikings||10-1||12-4||Lost NFC Championship to Saints 31-28|
|2013||Seahawks||10-1||TBD||Seahawks currently No. 1 seed in NFC|
WILSON!: In quarterbacking his 21st victory (one shy of Ben Roethlisberger’s NFL record for most in the first two seasons of a career), and 13th in a row at CenturyLink Field, Wilson produced a quarterback rating of 151.4, highest of his NFL career. Wilson’s previous high: 136.3 vs. the St. Louis Rams in Week 17 last season.
Wilson’s 151.4 rating is also the second-highest delivered by a Seattle quarterback, a few points shy of Dave Krieg’s 153.3 against San Diego Dec. 14, 1986, in which Krieg threw four touchdown passes without an interception.
Matt Hasselbeck, who quarterbacked the Seahawks to the Super Bowl following the 2005 season, had a single-game best passer rating of 147.7 Dec. 18, 2005 at Tennessee.
Wilson also had a Total Quarterback Rating of 98.5 (see detailed explanation here) against the Vikings, his highest QBR in a game this season. Wilson now has eight games in his career with a Total QBR rating of 90.0 or above, and only Peyton Manning, with 12, has more (Pro Bowl-level performance for a season usually means a QBR of at least 65-70).
Most Total QBR Games Above 90.0, Last Two Seasons
|Peyton Manning||Broncos||12||Had 99.0 Total QBR vs. KC Dec. 30, 2012|
|Russell Wilson||Seahawks||8||Career best 99.5 vs. Bills Dec. 16, 2012|
|Tom Brady||Patriots||8||Best Total QB rating of 98.3 vs. Rams 2012|
Wilson’s two TD throws against Minnesota were eye-catching, the first a 19-yarder to Doug Baldwin placed so perfectly in the corner of the end zone that only Baldwin could snag it between two defenders, the second an improvisational shovel pass to Lynch. Equally impressive as his touchdowns: Wilson distributed his 13 passes to eight receivers, including four to TE Zach Miller.
In only four of Wilson’s 21 wins as a starting quarterback has he completed fewer than the 13 passes he did Sunday, and in two of those he didn’t complete 10 passes. In Seattle’s 58-0 blowout of Arizona last year, he completed seven, and in a 29-3 victory over San Francisco this season Wilson completed eight.
Wilson tossed four completions Sunday that traveled at least 20 yards — 44 to Baldwin, 27 to Ricardo Lockett, 34 to Miller, 26 to Golden Tate — and now has 28 such completions this season. Only Drew Brees (36), Andrew Luck (35), Joe Flacco (35), Peyton Manning (33) and Matthew Stafford (29) have more, and only Flacco (17.3) throws a higher percentage of deep passes than Wilson (16.3).
BEAST MODE: Marshawn Lynch gained 54 yards (and scored three touchdowns) on 17 carries against Minnesota. That marked only the sixth time in Lynch’s career with the Seahawks, covering 54 games, that he has accumulated fewer than 60 rushing yards in a Seattle victory.
HAUSCHKA’S KICKING CLINIC: Steven Hauschka hit both field goal attempts Sunday, including one from 50 yards, and made 24 of 25 attempts this season. Hauschka’s only miss came in Seattle’s 34-28 loss to the Indianapolis Colts Oct. 6, and that wasn’t his fault. You may recall the play.
Hauschka went four-for-four on the field goals that cleared the line of scrimmage. But an attempt early in the second quarter was blocked as the Seahawks’ interior line protection failed and lineman Lawrence Guy made a deflection. Delano Howell caught the ball on the fly and returned it 61 yards for a touchdown.
(More notable than the blocked field goal for a TD in that game was another anomaly: Wilson became the fifth quarterback in NFL history to pass for more than 200 yards and rush for more than 100 in a loss.)
Despite the block, his 96 percent accuracy rate is ahead of his career best from last year at 88.9. Hauschka already made as many field this season as he made in 2012, and is one shy of matching his career high for the 2011 Seahawks.
Since the 1970 NFL-AFL merger, only two kickers have recorded perfect seasons with a minimum of 20 attempts, Minnesota’s Gary Anderson in 1998 (35-for-35) and Mike Vanderjagt of Indianapolis in 2003 (37-for-37). Until Hauschka this season, the best year by a Seahawks kicker came in 2009 when Olindo Mare made 24 of 26, 92.3 percent.
Hauschka has never made the Pro Bowl, but seems a cinch this season.
HOME WIN STREAK AT 13: Seattle has forced 34 turnovers and won by an average of 18.6 points per game during the streak. This is the first season in franchise history in which the Seahawks won a home game with a +4 or better turnover margin (Minnesota) and won another with a -3 turnover margin (Tampa Bay, Nov. 3).