BY Steve Rudman 06:30AM 12/05/2015

Beating 8-win team on road rare for Seahawks

Over 40 seasons, the Seahawks have defeated an eight-win team on the road only eight times. They face 8-3 Minnesota Sunday in the Twin Cities.

Former Washington State assistant Mike Zimmer has the Vikings at 8-3.

Even though the Minnesota Vikings lead the NFC North with an 8-3 record, feature pro football’s most productive back in Adrian Peterson, and will be playing at home, they opened as a one-point underdog to the Seahawks. Seattle has defeated only one team  (Pittsburgh) with a winning record and is missing two keys to their offense, RB Marshawn Lynch and TE Jimmy Graham.

That either doesn’t say much for Minnesota, or it’s an acknowledgement that the Seahawks, laggards most of the season, are finally hitting their stride. Certainly Seattle’s offensive line, the team’s weak point from training camp through Thanksgiving, has made improvements, illustrated best by the fact that QB Russell Wilson helped put 39 points on the Steelers Sunday.

At the same time, Seattle’ defense isn’t what it used to be. It faces a second-year quarterback in Teddy Bridgewater, who has won seven of his past eight home games, including four with a 100.0+ passer rating.

“What I’ve tried to do here is build an organization and an environment that constitutes winning,” said Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer, who served as defensive coordinator at Washington State under Mike Price from 1989-93. “We try to play smart football, we try to play understanding the quick situations of the game. I never go into a season saying we’ll be 8-3 or we’ll be 3-8. I just try to get our team to play the very best they can each Sunday.”

The Vikings and Seahawks are remarkably similar. The Seahawks score 24.3 points per game and allow 20.2. The Vikings score 21.0 and permit 17.6. Seattle averages 373.8 yards per game, Minnesota 333.2. The Seahawks allow 324.9, Minnesota 334.1.

Not much separation. But there is this: In 40 years spanning more than 300 games, the Seahawks have won only eight times on the road against an opponent that had eight or more. But three have come in the Pete Carroll era.

Last year, the Seahawks did it twice. On Dec. 2, they traveled to Philadelphia and beat the 9-3 Eagles 24-14. Lynch chewed clock after the Seahawks went ahead 17-7. Three weeks later, the Seahawks won at Arizona 35-9 against the 11-3 but injury-compromised Cardinals, who used third-stringer Ryan Lindley at quarterback. The Seahawks swallowed Lindley, holding him to a 47.2 passer rating.

Only six other times did the Seahawks beat an eight-plus win team on the road. These are the eight, listed chronologically:

Year Date Opp. Won Opp. Rec Skinny
1978 Nov. 26 at Oak 17-16 8-4-0 Walk-off 46 FG by E. Herrera
1979 Dec. 16 at Oak 29-24 9-6-0 Jim Zorn 314 yards, 2 TDs
1984 Nov. 25 at Den 27-24 11-1-0 Dave Krieg 406 yards, 3 TDs
1987 Dec. 20 at Chi 34-21 10-3-0 Walter Payton held to 79 yards
2002 Dec. 15 at Atl 30-24 8-4-1 Shaun Alexander 27-yard TD in OT
2012 Dec. 2 at Chi 24-17 8-3-0 R. Wilson 2 80+ drives for OT win
2014 Dec. 7 at Phil 24-14 9-3-0 R. Wilson 2 pass TDs, 1 rush
2014 Dec. 21 at Ariz 35-6 11-3-0 R. Wilson 339 yards passing, 88 rush

Formula for Sunday

When the Seahawks faced the Vikings Nov. 4, 2012 at CenturyLink Field, they won 30-20, overcoming 182 rushing yards and two touchdowns by Adrian Peterson. No opponent runner has gained more yards against the Seahawks during the Carroll era (since 2010). The first 74 of Peterson’s 182 came on the game’s second play, when he busted one to the Seattle one-yard line, where he was brought down by Brandon Browner.

But the Seahawks won because they took a Russell Wilson-orchestrated 27-17 lead and reduced Peterson to a spectator in the fourth quarter, as the Vikings went to the air to attempt to get back in the game. Lynch ran for 124 yards, gobbling clock and keeping Peterson on the bench. Peterson had five carries in the second half while Lynch had 15.

In 2013 at the Clink (the Seahawks haven’t played in Minnesota since 2009), the Seahawks again shot out to a fast start, including a 58-yard return of the opening kickoff by former Viking Percy Harvin, to win 41-20. Petersen had only 65 yards in 21 carries, again marginalized because the Vikes played from behind with underachieving QB Christian Ponder.

Hail Marys

The boggling 61-yard touchdown pass from Aaron Rodgers to Richard Rodgers that ended Green Bay’s win over Detroit Thursday night was the longest successful Hail Mary pass play in NFL history, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

The Seahawks came close to such an audacious play. In the past 20 years, they have been officially credited with one Hail Mary win, even though the play is forever known as the “Fail Mary.” Russell Wilson’s 24-yard pass to WR Golden Tate at CenturyLink Field Sept. 24, 2012, which Tate really didn’t catch, but received credit for doing so, gave Seattle a 14-12 win and helped bring an end to the referees strike four days later.

The Seahawks won only two other games in the past two decades with a touchdown pass in the final minute of regulation:

Year Date Opp. Time Play Score
2000 Dec. 16 Oak 0:33 J. Kitna 9-yard TD to D. Jackson W 27-24
2014 Oct. 26 Car 0:53 R. Wilson 23-yard TD to L. Willson W 12-9

The Wilson-to-Tate TD came on the game’s final play and thus is Seattle’s only Hail Mary win. The Raiders went 3-and-out after John Kitna’s TD to Darrell Jackson, and then Kitna took a knee. The Panthers ran seven plays, couldn’t score and Wilson took a knee.


YourThoughts

  • Just Another Bullwhip

    I remember that 1987 Chicago game. I was sitting in a hotel room with a friend in Tempe, Arizona getting ready to watch the second of two shows that night by U2 at Tempe Stadium, footage and audio of which was to be used for U2′s live Rattle and Hum cd and video. On the way back we flew back through Denver, and I remember saying to someone in Denver, “Can you say Bosworth.” That of course being before it became apparent that Bosworth was not going to be quite, to put it mildly, what he had been advertised as. Also remember those early unexpected, repeated defeats of the Raiders in the Seahawks formative years. That time in Seattle sports history was the apex. The Seahawks and Mariners had, almost simultaneously, commenced their existence, the Huskies were ascending in a big way, and the Sonics were at their apex. Now Hooterville can not even support three big league teams, let alone the NHL as well, the Huskies have been pathetic for going on a generation, the shine is well off the Mariners and Seahawks, and I can not find many, if any, arguable reasons to pine for living in the congested collective that is now Seattle. But there was a time that Seattle was truly, deservedly, arguably, year after year, the most livable city, and sports were kicking along at the same time.

    • jafabian

      IIRC Boz had 2 fumble recoveries in that game, one he returned for 38 yards. Both lead to scores.

      • Just Another Bullwhip

        That must have been why I had the Boz on my mind on the way back. Good memory.

    • Just Another Bullwhip

      Oh, and I forgot the Sounders, Soccer Bowls, etc. Those were great Sounder teams, often also selling out the Kingdome. And the Sounders were not trying to create some faux-European thing, even though the team was populated, obviously, almost exclusively by Europeans. I lived in Europe for years. I know Europe. I know America. They are not the same, and should celebrate that fact.

      • art thiel

        Europe and America, not the same. Boy, nothing gets by you

    • art thiel

      Glad you were able to find your peace under a bridge somewhere away from Hoots.

  • jafabian

    Loved the 1984 game. Knox called for the first play to be a sideline route to Darryl Turner. Kreig just bombed that ball downfield and Turner outran the Broncos secondary. Knox called it right saying the Broncos would be so amped up they’d bite on anything and they did.

    • art thiel

      Good recall, my man.

  • Jim Kelly

    Golden Tate did catch that ball. He had control, both feet down, and across the goal line. Play ends at that point. Jennings was still in the air while Tate was on the ground. When both players were on the ground, Tate had enough control that Jennings had to use both hands, and torque his body to get the ball. But since the ball had already crossed the plane of the end zone, the play was dead (Not even mentioning that since Tate landed on the ground first, as soon as Jennings touched him, Tate was “down” and the play was over.).
    If you want to get technical, and say that since there was offensive and defensive pass interference so there should have been an untimed replay, then I am in agreement.
    Go Hawks.

    • art thiel

      To me, simultaneous possession, but I no longer can define a how a pass is caught in the NFL. Neither can its officials.

      • Jim Kelly

        Thanks for the reply.