The Seahawks’ last-minute fade to defeat Sunday on a long, game-winning TD drive is a rarity. But here’s a look at seven similar games of similar magnum anguish.
In their four-plus decades, the Seahawks have been beaten with fourth-quarter or overtime field goals on numerous occasions, but probably never more egregiously than on Oct. 29, 1978, the day when they unwittingly unveiled the franchise’s original 12th man. The confounding events of that Kingdome afternoon unfolded in this fashion:
When Denver PK Jim Turner missed an 18-yard chip shot in overtime, the Seahawks thought they averted their fifth loss in what became a 9-7 season. Wrong. To the ire of head coach Jack Patera, a man who patented ire, they were penalized for having 12 men – DE Dave Kraayeveld being the extra party – on the field, allowing Turner a re-take. He drilled it, providing the Broncos a 20-17 victory.
In contrast to losing on fourth quarter or overtime field goals, it’s a rare deal when the Seahawks get beat with a late touchdown drive, which is what happened Sunday when the Washington Redskins, missing all sorts of starters and having lost three of four games, stunned Seattle 17-14 at CenturyLink Field.
The Seahawks seemed poised for their second big finish in as many weeks. The previous Sunday against Houston, Russell Wilson, with no timeouts, took Seattle 80 yards in barely a minute and beat the Texas 41-38 after an 18-yard TD pass to TE Jimmy Graham.
Against the Redskins, Wilson tossed a 30-yard score to WR Doug Baldwin with 1:34 to play, his second TD pass of the fourth quarter, to stake Seattle to a 14-10 lead that appeared safe despite the injury absence of FS Earl Thomas from the Legion of Boom.
But no. Washington QB Kirk Cousins required only four plays, including completions to TE Brian Quick of 31 yards and to WR Josh Dockston of 38 yards, to set up a Redskins TD. The entire nightmare unfolded in a scant 29 seconds.
Only once in 41 years had the Seahawks allowed a game-losing drive of longer than 50 yards in so few plays. Only once before had they done so with less time consumed during the drive. And never before had an opponent launched a game-winning TD drive with less time on the clock than the 1:34 that faced Cousins.
You need to go all the way back to Dec. 8, 1991, to find a finish that resembles what happened Sunday. In the fourth quarter that day in the Kingdome, the Seahawks led San Francisco, 22-17. The 49ers had a last stab with 1:37 to play, starting at their 44-yard line. Four plays and 24 seconds later they won the game (see below).
Since the inaugural year of 1976, these are the game-winning touchdown drives, listed chronologically, against Seattle that began with the opponent, either trailing or tied, taking possession in the final five minutes:
(Time=time remaining in 4Q when opponent launched winning drive; Yards=length of drive):
|1980||Nov. 9||KC||4:01||91||11||Arnold Morgado 1-yard run|
|1985||Nov. 17||NE||3:21||15||2||I. Fryar 13 pass from S. Grogan|
|1991||Dec. 8||SF||1:37||56||4||J. Taylor 15 pass from S. Bono|
|1998||Dec. 6||NYJ||3:15||64||10||Vinny Testaverde 5-yard run|
|2001||Dec. 23||NYG||2:52||96||10||L. Hilliard 7 pass from K. Collins|
|2006||Dec. 24||SD||2:00||59||5||V. Jackson 37 pass from P. Rivers|
|2015||Oct. 18||CAR||2:20||80||8||G. Olsen 26 pass from C. Newton|
|2017||Nov. 5||WAS||1:34||70||4||Robert Kelly 1-yard run|
Excluding Sunday’s loss (see Art Thiel’s take here), a closer look at the above contests:
Nov. 9, 1980 / Kansas City 31, Seahawks 30: Seattle led 30-24 with 4:01 remaining when Jim Jodat scored on a two-yard run. On Kansas City’s next possession, the Seahawks sacked QB Steve Fuller for a loss of three, sending the Chiefs to their own three. Fuller then completed four passes without a miss, including one for 33 yards, and Morgado scored from a yard out with 40 seconds remaining.
Nov. 17, 1985 / New England 20, Seahawks 13: Trailing 13-7 in the Kingdome, the Patriots tied the score 13-13 on a 23-yard pass from Steve Grogan to Craig James. With slightly more than three minutes remaining, Seattle QB Dave Krieg had a pass tipped at the line of scrimmage and intercepted by Fred Marion, who returned it 82 yards, setting up Grogan’s game-winning TD to Irving Fryar.
Dec. 8, 1991 / San Francisco 24, Seahawks 22: Seattle led 22-17 in the Kingdome after John Kasay hit his fourth field goal at the 8:45 mark of the fourth quarter. With 1:49 to play, Seattle punter Rick (Bootin’) Tuten shanked one 21 yards, giving the 49ers a first down at their 44. Remaining on the clock was 1:37, three ticks more than Cousins had Sunday. Steve Bono’s big play came on first down when he hit John Taylor for 41 yards. The 15-yard TD to Taylor came on third-and-10. The drive lasted 24 seconds.
Dec. 6, 1998 / New York Jets 32, Seahawks 31: Seattle led 31-26 early in the fourth. The Jets took over with 3:15 to play and began one of the most significant drives in both franchise and NFL history. After nine plays, Testaverde had the Jets on the Seattle 5-yard line. On fourth-and-goal, Testaverde attempted a sneak and appeared to come up a half a yard short. But head linesman Earnie Frantz ruled a TD. Referee Phil Luckett, without the benefit of instant replay, let the call stand. Because of the play, the Seahawks lost and missed the postseason. The Seahawks fired head coach Dennis Erickson and replaced him with Mike Holmgren. Testaverde’s non-touchdown was the play that pushed the NFL to adopt instant replay.
Dec. 23, 2001 / New York Giants 27, Seahawks 24: QB Kerry Collins hit his first five passes and seven overall in the 10-play drive of 96 yards that knocked Seattle out of the postseason. “It’s a dagger through the heart. It’s very tough,” said Seattle punter Jeff Feagles.
Dec. 24, 2006 / San Diego 20, Seahawks 17: LaDainian Tomlinson, soon to be named NFL MVP, didn’t score, but Vincent Jackson did – twice. On the winning drive, QB Philip Rivers completed two passes for 24 yards before Jackson slipped behind SS Michael Boulware, who returned to the lineup after being benched for nine games, for the winning TD. “This,” said Boulware, “is the hardest situation I’ve ever been through in my life.”
Oct. 18, 2015 / Carolina 27, Seahawk 23: Down 23-14, Carolina went 80 yards for touchdowns on each of its final two possessions. Cam Newton made the winning throw (26 yards) to TE Greg Olsen with 32 seconds left. On the winning play, Seattle All-Pros Earl Thomas and Richard Sherman were confused in coverage and Newton hit the wide-open Olsen easily in the end zone for a TD.