Is the Seahawks’ epic comeback the greatest game in Seattle sports history?
The Seahawks’ victory over the Packers has all the elements of another Seattle sports classic 20 years ago — the Mariners’ 1995 11-inning ALDS victory over the Yankees marked by Edgar Martinez’s double. Which was better? Why choose?
Seattle Times columnist
Let’s begin by asking the questions I know are foremost in the mind of every Seahawks fan. Every sports fan. Every human being who watched the madness Sunday at CenturyLink Field.
Did that really happen? Was it a dream? Did the Seahawks really pull a victory out of oblivion, and turn Seattle into a teeming mass of giddy, incredulous joy?
Yes, no, and yes.
Never a doubt, right? We’ll let Seahawks center Max Unger field this one.
“I’d love to tell you that, but there was some doubt creeping in a little bit. But when we got the ball rolling, everyone got the groove back.”
That could be the title of the book that someday will be written looking back at Seattle’s 28-22 comeback victory over the Packers: “How Russell Got his Groove Back.” Substitute “Jermaine” for “Russell” and you’ve got your sequel.
Russell Wilson was not exaggerating when he mused, “I think that may be one of the best games in NFL history.”
No doubt it ranks up there. As Pete Carroll said Monday, “Few of us have anything to compare to that.”
But a more pertinent question around here is whether it’s the greatest game in Seattle sports history.
There are certainly candidates from the Sonics, Huskies and elsewhere — including the NFC title game last year, with Richard Sherman batting away Colin Kaepernick’s pass in the end zone to preserve a trip to the Super Bowl. But I’d say the previous clubhouse leader, particularly for the past quarter-century, was Game 5 of the ’95 Division Series.
You know the one: Mariners down 5-4 to the Yankees in the Kingdome, then rallying to win in the bottom of the 11th, capped by Edgar Martinez’s epic double off Jack McDowell.
The feels of both games were similar, from the amazing twists and turns en route, to the looming sense of despair as the ending neared, to the release of pent-up euphoria when the victory somehow happened.
Sunday, after Wilson’s walkoff pass to Kearse set off a similar guttural outpouring nearly 20 years later, I could almost hear the faint echoes of the great Dave Niehaus: “The Seahawks are going to play for the NFL title! I don’t believe it! It just continues!”
So many improbable things had to happen for the Seahawks to be in the position to win — right up there with Randy Johnson strolling out of the bullpen in the ninth, two days after he had thrown 117 pitches in beating the Yankees.
Kearse spoke Monday of the “emotional roller coaster” he and his teammates experienced. “Just all the adventures that happened throughout that game and for us to be able to get that win was amazing.”
In no particular order, because this was a stream-of-consciousness kind of day, here are the most outrageous “adventures”:
There was the fake field goal that completely flummoxed the Packers, giving Seattle a sliver of hope.
There was the Hail Mary two-point conversion to Luke Willson, of which Russell Wilson, when asked how many times he would make that play if he ran it 100 times, replied, “Never.”
There was the interception by Green Bay’s Morgan Burnett, Wilson’s fourth choice, a seeming dagger with 5:04 to play and the Packers up 19-7. But Burnett, rather than returning the ball with substantial daylight in front of him instead slid to the ground. Three plays later, the Packers had to punt the ball to Seahawks’ destiny.
There was the onside kick, when all the heroics would have been for naught had the Packers fielded it cleanly. Except they didn’t, because Brandon Bostick, whose expressed job was to block, decided for some reason to try to grab the ball, but didn’t.
There were the five trips by the Packers to Seattle’s 30 or farther — two of them all the way to the 1 — that resulted in field goals instead of touchdowns. If Seattle’s defense doesn’t make those two goal-line stands, it’s a different outcome.
You had the guttiness of Richard Sherman, playing much of the second half with his left arm hanging limply at his side, rendering it intensely painful and virtually useless. You had Earl Thomas somehow playing through a similarly debilitating shoulder injury and delivering a blow on Eddie Lacy “as hard as you could possibly hit the guy and knocked him out of bounds,’’ Carroll said. “That’s just total guts. It’s just guts.”
Almost lost in it all, you had the steady, sustaining brilliance of Marshawn Lynch, whose 24-yard touchdown run for the lead — Beast Quake III — would have stood as the defining moment had Seattle not left Aaron Rodgers just enough time for a tying field goal.
And then, of course, Kearse happened.
The cumulative effect was one of sensory overload, but in a good way, much like that October day in 1995.
It was the kind of game you will look back on and get a warm feeling, an inner-glow accompanied by a private laugh and disbelieving head shake at the craziness of it all.
That game only put the Mariners in the League Championship Series — which they lost. This one put the Seahawks in the Super Bowl. But the Mariners never had any sort of postseason success, so it was all fresh and new and unexpected.
The victory Sunday saved a season. The Mariners’ victory — the culmination of a crazy comeback from 13 games down to the Angels — very well saved a franchise.
The victory Sunday is fresher, providing a level of amazement we’re still processing. The Mariners’ victory still resonates after two decades.
In other words, why choose? Savor them both, and wait to see what’s in store in two weeks in the Super Bowl.
Against all odds, it just continues.
Larry Stone: 206-464-3146 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
About Larry Stone
Larry Stone gives his take on the local and national sports scene.