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What are the best moments for each NFL franchise? Yahoo Sports provides our opinion, which you are free to disagree with (and we’re sure you will).
5. Hiring Pete Carroll
There were plenty of directions to go here. The top ones which narrowly missed the cut? Drafting Hall of Fame left tackle Walter Jones or future Hall of Famers Earl Thomas and Richard Sherman, Tony Romo’s botched hold in the playoffs and the infamous “Fail Mary” against Green Bay. But the Pete Carroll hire prior to the 2010 season was bigger than all of those, especially given the slew of poor hires before him. Names like Tom Flores, Dennis Erickson and Jim Mora come to mind and with it, an inordinate number of losing seasons. Even Mike Holmgren – who guided the organization to its first Super Bowl in 2005 – didn’t have Carroll’s dynamic charisma and personality nor his success. In his first seven seasons in Seattle, Carroll led the Seahawks to the playoffs six times, to two Super Bowls and its only championship. Years down the road when Carroll is long retired, Seattle will look back at his stretch with the Seahawks as the single most important and successful tenure in the team’s history.
4. Beast Quake
The Marshawn Lynch trade itself probably deserves a slot on this list, but so does the defining play of Lynch’s career. Lynch brought with him to Seattle an attitude and grit that the team and franchise never had. When he ripped off his signature 67-yard run to seal the upset win over the defending Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints in the 2011 NFC wild card game, it signified a change in the Seahawks’ culture to the rest of the league. The seismic run itself, which induced an actual earthquake from the frenzied home crowd, will always be a part of Lynch’s legacy, as well as Seahawks lore. Call it the world’s introduction to “Beast Mode.”
3. Richard Sherman’s pass breakup
Leading the San Francisco 49ers 23-17 with under a minute to play in the 2014 NFC championship game, Colin Kaepernick had a chance to put the 49ers into a second straight Super Bowl. Kap had moved the 49ers inside the Seahawks 20-yard line, and with three timeouts remaining had plenty left on the clock to score the winning touchdown. On a first-down play, Kap’s eyes fixated down the field for the knockout punch. He lofted a deep pass toward the corner of the end zone for a seemingly open Michael Crabtree. But Richard Sherman, at the very last second, reached out to make the biggest play of his life. Not only did he break up the pass, but he tipped the ball in the direction of teammate Malcolm Smith who picked it off. It was a truly spectacular play. Smith’s interception sealed the fate of the game and the Seahawks were headed to their second ever Super Bowl.
2. Second-half comeback in 2015 NFC championship
In the Seahawks’ quest to earn consecutive world championships, they found themselves in a very unfamiliar position during the 2015 NFC championship game versus Green Bay. Everything that could go wrong, had gone wrong. Russell Wilson turned in the worst first-half performance of his career, throwing three picks (he ended up with four total) while compiling just 12 yards and a zero passer rating. Marshawn Lynch had yet to find any running room and the Packers took a 16-0 lead into halftime.
Aside from a fake field goal that led to a touchdown pass by punter Jon Ryan, the Seahawk offense had failed to score … until Russell Wilson scored on a 1-yard run with just over two minutes left to play. After recovering the onside kick, Marshawn Lynch found the end zone, and after a wild 2-point conversion the Seahawks led by 3. Game over right? Wrong. Aaron Rodgers led Green Bay down the field and a Mason Crosby field goal sent the game into overtime.
The Seahawks got the ball first in overtime. Wilson found Doug Baldwin for 35 yards on a clutch 3rd-and-7 throw. Then, much as he had done so unsuccessfully all game long, he targeted Jermaine Kearse on yet another third down. Except this time, there was magic. Wilson put just the right amount of air under the ball, lofting it softly into Kearse’s hands for one of the greatest catches in franchise history: a 35-yard game-winning touchdown as he was tackled in the end zone.
Packers linebacker Clay Matthews, perhaps still in a state of pure shock, summed things up best afterward, telling reporters: “I felt we were up against something special tonight.”
1. Winning Super Bowl XLVIII
The Seahawks were so bad for so long that their recent run of success has been a revelation for a city that hadn’t won a major sports title since the 1979 SuperSonics. The beauty of this game was the full blown, 43-8 beatdown of Denver. Even the most pessimistic fans knew by halftime that the result was all but assured. A 25-year-old Russell Wilson was marvelous. He represented greatness both then and for the long-term, as did a defense so dominant that it drew comparisons to the famed 1985 Chicago Bears.
But wait, there’s more.
Can you name the MVP of Super Bowl XLVIII? No, it wasn’t Wilson, or Earl Thomas or even Marshawn Lynch. It was reserve linebacker Malcolm Smith, whose pick-six of Peyton Manning in the second quarter slammed the door on any hope for a Broncos comeback in what turned out to be a 43-8 blowout. This was as complete a team as you will find, and Smith earning MVP honors embodied Pete Carroll’s coaching philosophy that every player mattered.