10/25/2014

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Tom Glasgow: Deja vu all over again? Hawks need to avoid '84 fate

Tom Glasgow: Deja vu all over again? Hawks need to avoid '84 fate
Seahawks Daryl Turner and Terry Taylor share a "high five" during the 1984 season.
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As the excitement, anticipation and angst build heading into one of the most important regular season games in Seahawks history, I can’t help but think back to a similar, not identical, scenario nearly 30 years ago.

As it is this year, Seattle in 1984 was Seahawks-crazy and for good reason. The 1984 Seahawks, a team that overcame the shocking loss of star running back Curt Warner to a devastating knee injury in Week One dealt with that adversity and promptly began disposing of the opposition in a way no Seahawks team had done before.

With Warner finished for the season, head coach Chuck Knox looked at what he had and knew what he had to do. Basically on the fly, the Seahawks soared, converting their offensive philosophy from a “Ground Chuck” running attack to a prolific “Air Knox “ passing game. It worked! The Seahawks, counted out as a contender after the warner injury, still went 12-2 through its first 14 games.

Sound familiar?

With that glossy mark, the Hawks were in contention not only for the AFC West title, but home field advantage through the AFC playoffs. Everything seemed to be aligned for the team to at the very least get back to the AFC title game that they had lost the season before in Los Angeles to the Raiders.

Their bid to go 13-2 and win a ninth straight game was an unmitigated disaster, with a 34-7 loss to the Chiefs in Kansas City. A bump in the road, albeit a bump the size of Mount Rainier, but one that could be easily forgotten with a win in the regular season finale the next week at home. The stage was set for a winner-take-all AFC West showdown with John Elway and the Denver Broncos at the Kingdome.

Both teams entered the game 12-3, and just three weeks earlier the Seahawks had beaten the Broncos 27-24 in a thriller at Mile High Stadium. That game started with Dave Krieg connecting with Darryl “Deep Heat” Turner for an 80-yard TD pass and ended with Krieg throwing for 400 yards and three touchdowns.

The rematch didn’t go according to Seattle’s plan. The Seahawks home field advantage at the dome was neutralized early as the Broncos jumped out to a 10-0 lead in the first quarter with John Elway rushing for the game’s first touchdown. In the second quarter, the Seahawks cut into the lead when Dave Krieg connected with Dr. Dan, Dan Doornink for a four yard TD. It was a 10-7 Denver lead at halftime, but the Hawks were very much alive after the early 10-point deficit.

It didn’t take long though for the Broncos to reclaim their double-digit lead and momentum with Elway throwing a 14-yard TD pass to James Wright. And then later in the third, Steve Foley picked off a Krieg pass and returned the interception 40 yards for a touchdown and a 24-7 Broncos lead. Despite a Krieg-to-Charle Young touchdown pass cutting the Denver lead to 24-14, the damage had been done and the hole on that Sunday too deep to dig out of.

With the 31-14 loss, the Seahawks backed into the playoffs as a wild card team just a few weeks out from a very real chance of having the best record in the AFC.

The Seahawks locker room after the game was one of the most depressing I’ve been in. The players tried their best to take a glass half-full approach, balancing their disappointment with the optimism of still being in the playoffs. But there was no way for those players - greats like Largent and Easley included - to mask the pain of letting a golden opportunity slip from their grasp.

Like the 2013 Seahawks, the 1984 club was led by an outstanding defense featuring a quality front seven and an elite secondary one that returned four interceptions for touchdowns in a single game against the Kansas City Chiefs. The ’84 team, like the current club, also had issues on offense late in the season. After scoring 24 or more points seven times during their eight-game winning streak, in their final regular season two games and two playoff games they scored a combined 44 points for a dismal 11 points-per-game average.

The current Seahawks have stumbled the past three weeks on offense and desperately need to reverse that trend to avoid the fate of their 1984 brothers, back-to-back losses to end the season and a lower playoff seeding than they’d expected and needed.

The ’84 team opened the post-season against the defending Super Bowl Champion Raiders at the Kingdome and in a defensive slugfest defeated the hated silver-and-black 13-7, earning the Hawks a trip to Miami to face the AFC’s top team, the 14-2 Dolphins. The Seahawks didn’t have the magic they had in the ’83 playoffs when they stunned the Dolphins in a playoff upset at the Orange Bowl. Miami got its revenge 31-10.

The 1984 Seahawks offer a painful reminder about just how important it is to “finish” an NFL season the right way. If the club loses to the Rams on Sunday, like the ’84 team, they’ll back into the playoffs with no momentum and compromised confidence.

It’s said that history repeats itself. Hopefully not this time.
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