One Super finish

Bryan Millard was at a gathering of the Austin chapter of the NFL Alumni Association recently, and who should the former guard for the Seahawks run into?

Raul Allegre, the kicker on the New York Giants’ 1986 Super Bowl championship team – and, like Millard, also a former University of Texas player.

“I told Raul, ‘You’re lucky we didn’t get into the playoffs,’ ” Millard said this week.

It was during that ’86 season that the Seahawks beat both teams that eventually made it to the Super Bowl, yet failed to make the postseason themselves.

They closed the season with a 41-16 drubbing of the Denver Broncos at the Kingdome, only to then watch as the Broncos advanced to the Super Bowl by beating the New England Patriots and Cleveland Browns in the playoffs. In that regular-season finale, Curt Warner ran for 192 yards and three touchdowns, including a 60-yarder and Steve Largent caught six passes for 101 yards.

It was in Week 7, also at the Kingdome, that the Seahawks dispatched the Giants – 17-12, as Warner combined for 87 rushing and receiving yards, including a 1-yard TD run and the defense intercepted Giants QB Phil Sims four times.

It was the last time the Giants would lose that season, when they won their final nine regular-season games to finish 14-2 before defeating the San Francisco 49ers, Washington Redskins and Broncos in the postseason.

“I’m not saying we would have won (the Super Bowl), but we were good at the end of that year,” Millard said. “We were good.” Make that very good. After a 5-6 start, not to mention a four-game losing streak at midseason, the Seahawks won their final five games – for the only time in franchise history. And they didn’t just win those games, they won going away – 24-20 over the Philadelphia Eagles 31-14 against the Cowboys in Dallas on Thanksgiving Day 37-0 over the Los Angeles Raiders 34-24 against the Chargers in San Diego and, finally, 41-16 over the eventual AFC champion Broncos.

The Seahawks had closed 4-1 in 1978 and again in 1979. They would do it again in 1990 and 2005. But they never had ended a season on a 5-0 run.

“In ’86, we were even better than in ’84,” quarterback Dave Krieg said recently, comparing the 12-4 season in ’84 with the team’s 10-6 effort in ‘86.

Even with that 12-4 record in ’84, the Seahawks settled for second place in the AFC West to the 13-3 Broncos. The Seahawks would win their first divisional title in 1988, and they also advanced to the playoffs in 1987.

“We weren’t that bad a team back then,” Krieg said. “Plus, we had to play against guys like (Denver’s John) Elway and (San Diego’s Dan) Fouts twice a year. We were in one of the toughest divisions in the NFL. We always had three or four teams that could make it to the playoffs.

“So it was not easy, by any stretch of the imagination.”

The close to the ’86 season was definitely an imagination stretcher.

“I never had a feeling like that in my whole football career,” said Krieg, who would play 19 NFL seasons with six teams.

“We were 5-6, and had lost four in a row. Then we won our last five and we were scoring points like crazy – like we’d never scored before.”

And everyone, it seemed, got into the run-the-table act. Krieg fashioned a 130.9 passer rating in the final five games by completing 65.5 percent of his passes (76 of 116) for 1,288 yards, with 11 touchdown passes and one interception. Warner gained 563 of his 1,481 yards and scored six of his 13 rushing TDs down that unbeaten stretch. Steve Largent averaged 17.9 yards on 23 catches in the five games, with four TD catches. On defense, Jacob Green, Fredd Young and Keith Butler had double-digit tackling performances during the span, while Green and Young also had three-sack games. The special teams held up their end, as Eric Lane returned a blocked punt for a TD and Bobby Joe Edmonds returned a punt 75 yards for a score against the Eagles, and Norm Johnson kicked nine field goals in the five games.

Fittingly, Warner, Largent, Green, Young and Edmonds were voted to the Pro Bowl, with Edmonds adding All-Pro honors.

The Seahawks, in their fourth season under coach Chuck Knox and with Warner back at full strength after the severe knee injury that ended his 1984 season in the opener, also did their share of scoring to open the ’86 season. For the first time in franchise history, they won their first three games – a feat the 1998, 2003, 2004 and 2006 teams would match.

They shutout the Pittsburgh Steelers in the opener (30-0), nudged the Kansas City Chiefs (23-17) and then pulled out a 38-31 victory against the Patriots in New England by scoring 24 points in the fourth quarter – as Paul Moyer recovered a blocked punt in the end zone and Krieg hooked up with Ray Butler on a 67-yard TD pass. Butler also caught a 54-yard scoring pass in the third quarter.

The Seahawks followed that with a 2-2 stretch, before losing four in a row – three of them badly. After a 20-13 loss to the Broncos in Denver, the Seahawks fell 38-7 to the New York Jets, 27-7 to the Chiefs in Kansas City and 34-7 to the Bengals in Cincinnati.

Before fans could mumble “pass the Dramamine,” the Seahawks remedied whatever had been ailing them and ripped off that impressive five-game winning streak.

“We were on a roll at the end,” Millard said. “But you know how it is, you dig yourself a little hole early in the year and it’s tough to overcome. But I truly believe, had we gotten into the playoffs …”

Millard’s voice yielded to a moment of silence before he added, “We were a good football team at that time.”

Good enough to have beaten both the teams that wound up playing in the Super Bowl, and put together a late-season run that remains unparalleled in the franchise’s first 35 seasons.

“That’s what I remember about that season – how strongly we finished,” Millard said. “I know it’s ‘what could have been,’ but that’s just the way it goes. But I remember that vividly.”

And, as one Longhorn to another, he’s not about to let Allegre forget it, either.

Year in Review
Record
10-6 (third in AFC West)
Owner
Nordstrom family (majority owners)
Coach
Chuck Knox
Captains
WR Steve Largent (off.), CB Dave Brown (def.), RB Eric Lane (ST)
MVP
RB Curt Warner
Man of the Year
TE Mike Tice
Leading Passer
Dave Krieg (225 of 375 for 2,921 yards, with 21 TDs and 11 interceptions)
Leading Rusher
Warner (1,481 yards)
Leading Receiver
Largent (70 receptions for 1,070 yards)
Leading Tackler(s)
LB Fredd Young (121)
Special Teams Tackles
RB Eric Lane (16)
Interception Leader(s)
Brown (5)
Sack Leader
DE Jacob Green (12)
Leading Scorer(s)
K Norm Johnson (108 points)
Pro Bowl Selection(s)
KR Bobby Joe Edmonds, Green, Largent, Warner, Young
All-Pro
Edmonds (first team); Warner (second team)
National Honors
Edmonds, AFC special teams player of the year; Warner, AFC offensive player of the year

1986

1986: One Super finish

It was during that ’86 season that the Seahawks beat both teams that eventually made it to the Super Bowl, yet failed to make the postseason themselves.

Raiders Shutout by Seahawks
December 08, 1986

Seattle hands the Los Angeles Raiders their biggest defeat since 1962, 37-0, as Curt Warner gains 116 yards and Dave Krieg passes for 243 yards and two touchdowns. Seattle gains 407 yards in total offense, while the defense holds the Raiders to 138 yards.

Five-Game Winning Streak
December 20, 1986

Seahawks close out five-game winning streak and a 10-6 season by defeating eventual AFC Champion Denver, 41-16. The Seahawks gain a season high 536 yards, including a club record 298 yards rushing, led by Curt Warner’s 192 yards and three touchdowns on 24 carries.

Fredd Young Pro Bowl TD
February 01, 1986

Fredd Young recovers a fumble to set up the only touchdown in the game as the AFC wins the Pro Bowl 10-6. Jacob Green also recovers a fumble and has a tackle for a loss, while Steve Largent and Bobby Joe Edmonds also are on the NFC squad.

Key Date
June 18, 1986

Seahawks move into new headquarters on a 12-acre site adjacent to Northwest College in Kirkland.

Key Date
October 19, 1986

Jacob Green registers four sacks and Dave Brown intercepts two passes in leading Seattle to a 17-12 win over the eventual Super Bowl champion New York Giants.

First Training Camp in Kirkland
July 16, 1986

Seahawks open their 11th training camp and first in Kirkland.

Key Date
November 27, 1986

Seahawks defeat the Dallas Cowboys, 31-14, on Thanksgiving Day as Curt Warner runs for 122 yards and Dave Krieg completes 16-of-24 passes for 214 yards and two touchdowns.

Key Date
October 06, 1986

Seahawks defeat San Diego Chargers, 33-7, on Monday Night Football as Steve Largent breaks NFL record for most consecutive games with a pass reception. Largent catches a pass in the 128th straight game in which he participated.

Season Opener Shutout
September 07, 1986

Seahawks kickoff their 1986 regular season schedule with a 30-0 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers at the Kingdome.

Draft John L. Williams
April 29, 1986

Seahawks select Florida fullback John L. Williams as their first-round draft choice. Williams is the 15th player picked overall.

That’s what I remember about that season – how strongly we finished. I know it’s ‘what could have been,’ but that’s just the way it goes. But I remember that vividly.
Bryan Millard
1986 Season Schedule
DateOpponentScoreW:L
9/7 Pittsburgh 30-0 W
9/14 Kansas City 23-17 W
9/21 AT New England 38-31 W
9/28 AT Washington 14-19 L
10/6 San Diego 33-7 W
10/12 AT L.A. Raiders 10-14 L
10/19 New York Giants 17-12 W
10/26 AT Denver 13-20 L
11/2 New York Jets 7-38 L
11/9 AT Kansas City 7-27 L
11/16 AT Cincinnati 7-34 L
11/23 Philadelphia 24-20 W
11/27 AT Dallas 31-14 W
12/8 L.A. Raiders 37-0 W
12/14 AT San Diego 34-24 W
12/20 Denver 41-16 W
1986 Record
106
1986 Offense
PosPlayerStarts
C Will Grant 6
C Blair Bush 7
C Glenn Hyde 0
C Kani Kauahi 0
G Bob Cryder 0
G Bryan Millard 16
G Edwin Bailey 12
G Jon Borchardt 0
T Mike Wilson 16
T Curt Singer 0
T Ron Mattes 16
TE Mike Tice 15
TE Jim Laughton 0
TE Gordon Hudson 0
WR Steve Largent 16
WR Daryl Turner 12
WR Paul Skansi 0
WR Byron Walker 0
WR Ray Butler 0
WR Byron Franklin 0
QB Gale Gilbert 2
QB Sean Salisbury 0
QB Dave Krieg 14
RB Eric Lane 0
RB Curt Warner 16
RB John L. Williams (R) 16
RB Randall Morris 0
RB Bobby Joe Edmonds 0
+ View All-Time Roster
1986 Defense
PosPlayerStarts
DE Jacob Green 16
DE Jeff Bryant 12
DE Alonzo Mitz 0
DE Randy Edwards 0
NT Joe Nash 11
NT Reggie Kinlaw 0
LB Fredd Young 15
LB Bruce Scholtz 16
LB Greg Gaines 15
LB Sam Merriman 0
LB Keith Butler 16
LB Michael Jackson 0
LB John Kaiser 0
DB Kenny Easley 10
DB Kerry Justin 0
DB Gregg Johnson 0
DB Patrick Hunter 0
DB Paul Moyer 6
DB Terry Taylor 15
DB Eugene Robinson 16
DB Eddie Anderson 0
DB Dave Brown 16
+ View All-Time Roster
1986 Special Teams
PosPlayerStarts
K Norm Johnson 16
P Vince Gamache (R) 16
+ View All-Time Roster
1986: A Season in Three Acts

VIDEO: 1986: A Season in Three Acts

On this Day in Seahawks History