BY Steve Rudman 06:30AM 12/16/2014

Left for dead, Seahawks defense on historic run

Only once in Seahawks history has Seattle had a defensive stretch as dominant as the current four-game run, That was 30 years ago in the Chuck Knox era.

S Earl Thomas (29) and CB Byron Maxwell (41) helped lead the Seahawks to a 17-7 win over San Francisco Sunday. / Drew Sellers, Sportspress Northwest

After losing to Kansas City at Arrowhead 24-20 last month, and with a gauntlet of NFC West foes plus NFC East leader Philadelphia looming, the Seahawks looked ripe to become the third consecutive defending Super Bowl champion to fail to reach the postseason. Even though the Seahawks were 6-4 Nov. 16 after losing to the Chiefs, the task ahead seemed too daunting to overcome.

But they returned to Seattle Nov. 23 and knocked off NFC West-leading Arizona 19-3 and followed with wins over San Francisco (19-3), Philadelphia (24-14) and the 49ers again (17-7). Not a playoff team had the season ended with the Kansas City game in Week 11, the Seahawks are currently the NFC’s No. 5 seed, but remarkably have an opportunity to become No. 1 and gain home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.

After allowing 27 points in the four wins, several defensive players took the opportunity to crow a little bit after earning a rare season sweep of San Francisco Sunday that featured six sacks and 11 tackles for loss.

LB Bruce Irvin: “These past four or five games, I feel like we’ve been better than last year.”

DE Cliff Avril: “Guys are playing good, guys are healthy, and we’re just playing lights out right now. Now, we just have to keep it going.”

LB K.J. Wright: “We’re rolling, we’re at our peak and we’re playing really good football. We’re playing together, just making plays. We’re just not letting teams breathe out there. So we have to keep it up. We have two more tough ones and they’re in our own division so we have to finish strong.”

S Kam Chancellor: “Everyone’s getting to the ball, people are making plays, everyone is executing. When your number is called, everyone is executing.”

DE Michael Bennett: “We’re playing team defense and that’s the way you play championship football.”

LB Bobby Wagner: “We know we’re going to win as long as we come out and play like we know we can play. We think we can beat anybody. But we gave up a touchdown (to San Francisco). We need to clean that up.”

Irvin was right when he said, “These last four or five games, I feel like we’ve been better than last year.”

They have. En route to the Super Bowl, and in a year when they led the NFL fewest points and yards allowed, the Seahawks never had a four-game stretch defensively as good as the current one in terms of points allowed.

Their two best: a run from Dec. 2-22, when they allowed 43 against New Orleans (7), San Francisco (19), the New York Giants (0) and Arizona (17), and 47 to open the year against Carolina (7), San Francisco (3), Jacksonville (17) and Houston (20).

You have to go back 30 years to find a Seahawks team — one that featured Kenny Easley, Jacob Green, Dave Brown and Joe Nash – that produced a stingier streak than the current one. Fewest points allowed in any four-game stretch in franchise history:

Year Dates Coach Opponents / Points Allowed Tot.
1984 10/29-11/18 Chuck Knox SD 0, KC 0, Raid 14, Cin 6 20
2014 11/23-12/14 Pete Carroll Ariz 3, SF 3, Phil 14, SF 7 27
1985 10/20-11/10 Chuck Knox Den 13, NYJ 17, Raid 3, NO 3 36
1998 9/6-9/27 Dennis Erickson Phil 0, Ariz 14, Wash 14, Pitt 13 41
2012 12/9-12/30 Pete Carroll Ariz 0, Buff 17, SF 13, StL 13 43
2013 12/2-12/22 Pete Carroll NO 7, SF 19, NYG 0, Ariz 17 43
1985 11/3-11/25 Chuck Knox Raid 3, NO 3, NE 20, SF 19 45
1991 9/15-10/6 Chuck Knox Den 16, KC 20, Ind 3, Cin 7 46
1991 10/6-10/27 Chuck Knox Cin 7, Raid 23, Pitt 7, SD 9 46
2004 9/12-10/10 Mike Holmgren NO 7, TB 6, SF 0, StL 33 46

That 1984 team finished 12-4 under Chuck Knox, defeated the Raiders 13-7 in a wild card game and lost to the Miami Dolphins at the Orange Bowl 31-10 in the AFC divisional playoffs.

Sweep stuff

Seattle’s sweep of the 49ers marks the first time in the Carroll era that the Seahawks won twice in the same season against San Francisco. Seattle followed its 19-3 win at Levi’s Stadium on Thanksgiving with a 17-7 win Sunday.

According to Elias, this is only the second time since 1980 that an opposing team held the 49ers to 10 or fewer points in a two-game season series. The Seahawks also did it in 2007 when they allowed three in 23-3 and 24-0 victories.

That’s the fewest points allowed in a season sweep by one NFC team over another since the league realigned its divisions in 2002.

There have been eight instances in which one NFC team swept another and allowed fewer than 20 total points. The Seahawks have been involved in five such sweeps:

Year Team Coach Opponent 1st Gm. 2nd Gm. Pts. Allw.
2007 Seahawks M. Holmgren 49ers W 23-3 W 24-0 3
2009 49ers M. Singletary Rams W 35-0 W 28-6 6
2003 Seahawks M. Holmgren Cardinals W 38-0 W 28-10 10
2014 Seahawks P. Carroll 49ers W 19-3 W 17-7 10
2010 49ers M. Singletary Cardinals W 27-6 W 38-7 13
2012 49ers J. Harbaugh Cardinals W 24-3 W 27-13 16
2009 Seahawks J. Mora Rams W 28-0 W 27-17 17
2013 Seahawks P. Carroll Rams W 14-9 W 27-9 18

Fewest completions in 16 years

During Sunday’s NFL play, seven quarterbacks – Minnesota’s Teddy Bridgewater (31), Miami’s Ryan Tannehill (29), Oakland’s Derek Carr (27), Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger (27), Carolina’s Derek Anderson (25), San Diego’s Philip Rivers (24) and New York’s Eli Manning (23) – had 23 or more completions.

In the Seahawks-49ers game at CenturyLink Field, Russell Wilson (12) and Colin Kaepernick (11) combined for 23. That’s an unusually low number of combined completions, but not a total that will stir Johnny Blood, Tobin Rote and their ilk out of eternal slumber.

When the Seahawks played New England Oct. 9, 1977, Seattle backup Steve Myer, the starter that day in place of the injured Jim Zorn, and the Patriots’ Steve Grogan, combined for 14 completions. The teams met again Dec. 4, 1988, and Dave Krieg and Doug Flutie also combined for 14 completions.

In the 610 regular-season games in Seattle franchise history, only 10 featured opposing quarterbacks combining for 23 or fewer completions, as was the case Sunday.

Sunday’s was the first such game since Oct. 4, 1998 when Seattle’s Jon Kitna and John Friesz (11) and Kansas City’s Rich Gannon (12) also combined for 23. Fewest passes completed, both teams, in a Seahawks game:

Date Cmp. Cmp. Tot. QB Lines
10/9/77 Sea 5 NE 9 14 Myer 5-23-71; Grogan 9-15-137
12/4/88 Sea 9 NE 5 14 Krieg 9-20-62; Flutie 5-10-47
12/18/77 Sea 10 Clev 6 16 Zorn 10-24-132; Luck 6-15-105
9/11/83 Sea 7 NYJ 12 19 Zorn 7-15-81; Todd 12-28-222
10/7/84 Sea 8 Raid 12 20 Krieg-Zorn 8-19-110; Wilson 12-19-309
12/6/87 Sea 9 Pitt 11 20 Krieg 9-15-91; Malone 11-18-99
11/14/93 Sea 11 Clev 9 20 Mirer 11-27-114; Philcox 9-20-85
11/15/92 Sea 11 Raid 10 21 Gelbaugh-Stouffer 11-23-99; Schroeder 10-23-108
10/4/98 Sea 11 KC 12 23 Kitna-Friesz 11-33-94; Gannon 12-19-142
12/14/14 Sea 12 SF 11 23 Wilson 12-24-168; Kaepernick 11-19-141

In NFL history, the record for fewest combined completions in a game is one, done four times. All four of those games were played in the 1930 and 1940s. In the Super Bowl era (since 1966), the record is two, in a Sept. 29, 1974 game between the Bills and Jets. Joe Ferguson of Buffalo threw two passes, completing none. Joe Namath of the Jets threw 18 times, completing two.

One of the oddest Seahawks games occurred Oct. 16, 1983 in the Kingdome. The Seahawks defeated the Raiders 38-36 even though Jim Zorn completed only four passes in 16 attempts for 13 yards.

The Seahawks won with touchdown runs by Dan Doornink (1 yard), Zorn (18) and Curt Warner (6), a 75-yard punt return by Paul Johns, a 9-yard fumble return by Shelton Robinson and a 22-yard field goal by Norm Johnson.

Wilson, Luck in lockstep

Russell Wilson and Andrew Luck won their 10th games of the season Sunday for the third  year in a row. Wilson and Luck are the first starting quarterbacks to debut in the Super Bowl era (since 1966) to win at least 10 games in each of their first three seasons.


  • jafabian

    I once read that Coach Knox had a unique incentive for the coaches on defense: for every shut out the team got he’d personally buy each coach a suit at Nordstrom’s. The team had three shutouts that season against.Browns, Chargers and Chiefs. The team finished 12-4 that season though unfortunately the Broncos finished a game ahead. As impressive as the current Seahawks defense is they had only one shutout last season and none this season. With the Cardinals missing their starting QB and RB and several on defense there’s a chance a shutout could happen this weekend, unless the game gets out of hand early. Then the Hawks might give up a FG.

  • Brent

    You missed the immortal loss to the Rams in 79 … Zorn 2-of-17 and Haden/Rutledge combining for 20-of-30 = 22 completions. Who could forget -7 yards of total offense?

  • Its onlySports(DavidWakefield)

    Two wins in 3 weeks against our chief rival seems surreal.
    “This marks the first time in the Carroll era that the Seahawks won twice in the same season against San Francisco.”

    Oh Contrare….we beat SF twice last year…the last W sent them catapulting into the battle for the Lombardi via the immaculate deflection in what Rich Sherman described as resembling”their” true SuperBowl.
    In history this win will always be attached to the 2013 season.
    Now we have beat our archrival 4~5 spanning these last two seasons including that playoff bout for an 80% win percentage.Truly impressive.
    It will mean nothing if we “Ram it” against the Red Birds this sunday…that is play down to a lesser teams level in allowing a for a successful fake punt and the win as we witnessed amid horrid gasping amongst HAWK fans in Missouri earlier this year.
    No room for such trickery with the division on the line.
    Some might argue AZ is better than Seattle. The record says so.Visit any bar in Phoenix and that will be presented in debate. But 3rd string QB who was a practice squad player a scant 30days ago? It would be easy to take them lightly but Im confident Seattle wont.
    The stars are aligned.Its the Hawks job to make that date with destiny. What a season. Go Hawks.