BY Steve Rudman 04:27PM 09/22/2014

Record-tying OT kept Seahawks from dire 1-2

The Seahawks head into a bye week with a 2-1 record after beating Denver in overtime Sunday. History hasn’t been kind to Seahawks teams that started 1-2.

Russell Wilson directed a record 13-play, 80-yard, game-winning drive Sunday against Denver, and now has led the Seahawks to four OT wins in his career. / Drew McKenzie, Sportspress Northwest

The Seattle-Denver Super Bowl rematch ended almost precisely the way prognosticators predicted. Given the CenturyLink din, seers saw a five-point Seahawks victory and they won by six, 26-20. How they won, with Russell Wilson’s NFL-record performance in overtime upstaging Peyton Manning’s stunning drive that forced a fifth quarter, placed the game in the realm of instant classic, at least from a local perspective.

But the Seahawks are fortunate that Manning never touched the ball in overtime. They might be 1-2 instead of 2-1.

Given its talent and speed, and especially the guts and skill of its quarterback, this edition of the Seahawks probably is far different from those that came before, but history hasn’t been kind to other Seahawks clubs that started 1-2.

There have been 16. Only three in the era of the 16-game schedule (since 1978) finished with a winning record after opening 1-2, the 1978, 1979 and 2001 teams all ending up 9-7. None of 16 made the playoffs.

Of the 16 Seahawks teams that started 1-2, one ended with two wins (1992), another with four (1980), and another with five (2009). All the rest went 6-10, 7-9 or 8-8. These are the eight teams, spanning the last 20 years, that started 1-2:

Year Start Coach Finish Skinny
2011 1-2 Pete Carroll 7-9 Seahawks lost 6 of first 8, lost last 2
2009 1-2 Jim Mora 5-11 Lost 5 of first 7, ended with 4 losses
2008 1-2 Mike Holmgren 4-12 6-game losing streak middle of season
2001 1-2 Mike Holmgren 9-7 3rd winning record after starting 1-2
2000 1-2 Mike Holmgren 6-10 Beat SD in Week 4, then lost 5 in row
1997 1-2 Dennis Erickson 8-8 Killer: 4-game losing streak, 2 OT losses
1995 1-2 Dennis Erickson 8-8 4-game losing streak middle of season
1994 1-2 Dennis Erickson 6-10 After starting 1-2, lost 6 of next 7

As a point of comparison, the San Francisco 49ers, 1-2 after losing to Arizona Sunday, have started a season with that record four times since 1991. The 49ers did not make the playoffs in any of those seasons (1991, 2003, 2005, 2006).

Latest NFL record

In order to start 2-1 this season, the Seahawks needed to tie the NFL regular-season record for the longest overtime touchdown drive as measured by the number of plays. According to Elias, the 13-play march, which covered 80 yards, matched Denver’s 13-play OT drive at Kansas City in 1978 and the New York Giants’ 13-play effort at Philadelphia in 2006.

In Seahawks annals, Sunday’s 13 OT plays eclipsed by one the 12-play, 80-yard drive orchestrated by Wilson at Chicago Dec. 2, 2013 that ended with a 27-yard Steven Hauschka field goal and a 23-17 Seattle victory.

Only one other game-winning overtime drive in franchise history reached double figures in plays. On Dec. 2, 2001, Matt Hasselbeck engineered an 11-play, 62-yard drive at San Diego that concluded with Rian Linidell’s 24-yard field goal and a 13-10 Seattle win.

The Seahawks have recorded 12 overtime wins in 38 years and Wilson has quarterbacked four in the last two, including the two longest in terms of yards and two of the three longest in terms of time (7:27 at Chicago, 5:46 Sunday).

In addition to the 12-play, 80-yard jaunt at Chicago in 2012 and Sunday’s 13-play, 80-yard thriller at the Clink, he orchestrated an eight-play, 42-yard game-winner at Houston and a nine-play 51-yard game-winner vs. Tampa Bay, both last season.

In only three of the 12 all-time overtime wins was the winning score not a field goal. These were those games, with Wilson involved in two:

Year Date Opp. Score Quarterback Winning Play
2002 Dec. 15 at Atl 30-24 M. Hasselbeck Shaun Alexander 27-yard run
2012 Dec. 2 at Chic 23-17 R. Wilson S. Rice 13 pass from Wilson
2014 Sept. 21 Den 26-20 R. Wilson Marshawn Lynch 6-yard run

In the Chicago game, Wilson led both go-ahead and game-winning TD drives. He rushed for 47 of his 71 yards during those two, which included three zone-read rushes for 22 yards and two scrambles for 25. Wilson also completed 9-of-12 passes during those two drives. His passer rating: 147.2.

Of the Seahawks’ final 80 yards Sunday, Wilson accounted for 57, 22 rushing and 35 passing (35). That enabled him to remain perfect in his matchups with quarterbacks who have won a Super Bowl (the stats are Wilson’s numbers in the games, regular season and playoffs, against each quarterback):

Quarterback Team Rec. Yards TD INT Rate Pts. Diff.
Peyton Manning Broncos 2-0 464 4 1 109.7 79-28
Drew Brees Saints 2-0 413 3 0 112.5 57-22
Aaron Rodgers Packers 2-0 321 4 0 105.9 50-28
Tom Brady Patriots 1-0 293 3 0 133.7 24-23
Eli Manning Giants 1-0 206 1 1 86.3 23-0
Totals 8-0 1697 15 2 109.5 233-101

The “points differential” column shows that Wilson and the Seahawks have more than doubled the score in games against quarterbacks with Super Bowl wins.

Adding to repertoire

One of the most tiresome things about NFL coverage is the mindless debate about “elite” quarterbacks, specifically those who are, as opposed to those who are not. More of that nonsense emerged after Sunday’s game when one scribe penned that Wilson is not elite because he barely averages 200 passing yards per game.

That has nothing to do with anything. Passing efficiency is what counts, not yards, and Wilson is about as efficient as a quarterback can get. He does exactly what he’s supposed to do in the offense Pete Carroll and his staff have constructed, and now that apparently includes catching passes.

Wilson caught a pass Sunday – a 17-yard throw from WR Jermaine Kearse – before he ever completed one. He became the first Seattle quarterback with a pass reception since Seneca Wallace snagged a five-yard throw from Matt Hasselbeck Nov. 15, 2009 at Arizona. Wallace also holds the franchise record for longest pass reception, 29 yards Oct. 14, 2007 against the New Orleans Saints, also from Hasselbeck.


  • dinglenuts

    Dire? Come on now, Steve. 8-7 and needing a win to get a wild-card berth is dire. A 1-2 start for the Seahawks would have been, well, a 1-2 start. Not ideal, but there are 13 games left to go. That’s like telling a good baseball team that they’re out of the pennant race in May because they’ve had a slow start and are a couple games under .500.

    What is it about the NFL that makes people lose all sense of perspective on a weekly basis?