Coming up just short

The gap between the Seahawks’ 1985 and 2006 seasons covered 20 years.

It also included three owners – the Nordstrom family, Ken Behring and Paul Allen four coaches – Chuck Knox, Tom Flores, Dennis Erickson and Mike Holmgren 16 quarterbacks who started at least one game – from Dave Krieg, to Warren Moon, to Matt Hasselbeck, but also including Gale Gilbert, Bruce Mathison and Glenn Foley six leading rushers – from Curt Warner, to Chris Warren, to Shaun Alexander nine leading receivers – from Steve Largent, to Brian Blades, to Bobby Engram and 11 leading tacklers – from Fredd Young, to Eugene Robinson, to Lofa Tatupu.

But one thing bridged that gap, and all those individuals: Unfilled expectations.

“I feel like this is probably the hardest season,” former fullback Mack Strong said following the overtime playoff loss to the Bears in Chicago that left the Seahawks one step shy of a return to the NFC Championship game.

“Of all the years I have played professionally, this is the hardest one.”

That’s saying a lot, because the 2006 season was Strong’s 14th with the team – a tenure which started with five seasons that did not produce a single winning record and also included the growing pains of Holmgren’s first four seasons.

Yes, the Seahawks won the NFC West in ’06 – for the third consecutive season. Yes, they advanced to the playoffs – for the fourth season in a row. Yes, they posted a winning record (9-7) – for the fourth time in as many seasons. Yes, they won a playoff game for the second consecutive season – the first time that had happened since 1983-84.

But the sum of all that did not add up to what was expected: A second consecutive trip to the Super Bowl.

Flash back to ’85, when the Seahawks were the preseason pick to win the AFC, but instead finished 8-8.

Different generations. Similar disappointment.

“For me, it wasn’t the kind of year that I anticipated having,” quarterback Matt Hasselbeck said at the time. Like ’85, when the Seahawks opened with back-to-back road wins in Cincinnati and San Diego, the ’06 team started 3-0 and won four of its first five games.

Like ’85, that’s when things started to go wrong – on multiple levels.

The Seahawks gave up 31 and 35 points in back-to-back losses to the Minnesota Vikings and Kansas City Chiefs. They rallied to win four of their next five games, including a 16-0 shutout of the Oakland Raiders. But Holmgren’s West Coast offense then lost its bearings against a trio of West Coast/NFC West teams in losses to the Arizona Cardinals, San Francisco 49ers and San Diego Chargers. Injuries played a part, as Hasselbeck missed four starts with a bruised knee and leading rusher Shaun Alexander sat out six because of a broken foot. So did ineffectiveness and inconsistency. Even more telling was the fact that the team’s best players who had their best seasons in the run to the Super Bowl in ’05 did not match those efforts. Not even close.

“This was, in some respects, the balancing act for me: dealing with my own frustration and the questioning of why things are happening,” Holmgren said.

Like too many dropped passes (43, up from 22 in ’05).

Like too many missed blocks (34 sacks of Hasselbeck in 12 games, compared to 24 in 16 games in ’05 a 3.6-yard average for Alexander, compared to 5.1 in ’05).

Like too many turnovers (22 interceptions for Hasselbeck and backup Seneca Wallace, compared to nine by Hasselbeck in ’05).

Like too many injuries (offensive starters combined to miss 48 games, compared to 13 in ’05).

Like not enough sacks (seven in the final seven regular-season games, after the Seahawks led the league with 50 in ’05).

Like not enough forced turnovers (which made for a minus-8 differential, compared to plus-10 in ’05).

Still, the wild-card round of the playoffs produced a wild 21-20 win over the Dallas Cowboys at Qwest Field – when holder/QB Tony Romo dropped the snap on what would have been the game-winning field goal and was pulled down shy of a first down and the end zone by Jordan Babineaux in a play that was voted the decade’s best by readers of Seahawks.com.

But the 27-24 loss to the Bears in overtime the following week included a couple of plays that provided the proverbial microcosm of this coming-up-just-short season. It happened late in the fourth quarter, and with the score tied at 24, when the Seahawks had a third-and-1 at the Bears’ 44-yard line. A first down would have put Josh Brown on a downhill path to a potential game-winning field goal.

Instead, Alexander was stopped for no gain on third down and then lost 2 yards on fourth down after Hasselbeck bobbled the snap.

“If the snap was smooth, I think I could have run for a touchdown,” Alexander said after the game.

In ’05, Alexander had converted each of his 16 third-and-1 situations to lead the NFL. On this day, in this season, he couldn’t get 1 yard in two cracks at it.

“Things came easier for us last season,” Hasselbeck said. “We got all the good bounces, kicked a number of game-winning field goals, very few guys got hurt and our offensive line was healthy all season.”

The 2006 season also was memorable because: the Seahawks played without All-Pro left guard Steve Hutchinson, who signed with the Minnesota Vikings as a free agent during the offseason Seattle traded their 2007 first-round draft choice to the New England Patriots for wide receiver Deion Branch, who averaged 44 receptions in four injury-plagued seasons before being traded back to the Patriots Alexander’s club-record string of five consecutive 1,000-yard seasons was snapped Pro Bowl center Robbie Tobeck missed half the season and then announced his retirement in the hallway at Soldier Field after the playoff loss to the Bears and Strong played his final full season.

It was all part of a season that, while still successful, did not come close to meeting expectations.

“I am not apologizing for anything,” Holmgren said. “We are all disappointed, but we’re not apologizing.”

Agonizing, perhaps, but not apologizing.

Year in Review
Record
9-7 (first in NFC West)
Playoffs
1-1, beat Dallas in a wild-card game; lost at Chicago in divisional game
Owner
Paul Allen
Coach
Mike Holmgren
Captains
OT Walter Jones (off.), MLB Lofa Tatupu (def.), snapper J.P. Darche (ST)
Man of the Year
CB Marcus Trufant
Largent Award
FB Mack Strong
Leading Passer
Matt Hasselbeck (210 of 371 for 2,442 yards, with 18 TDs and 15 interceptions)
Leading Rusher
Shaun Alexander (896 yards)
Leading Receiver
Darrell Jackson (63 receptions for 956 yards)
Leading Tackler(s)
Tatupu (123)
Special Teams Tackles
LB Kevin Bentley and LB Niko Koutouvides (14)
Interception Leader(s)
FS Ken Hamlin (3)
Sack Leader
LB Julian Peterson (10)
Leading Scorer(s)
K Josh Brown (111 points)
Pro Bowl Selection(s)
Jones, Peterson, Strong, Tatupu
All-Pro
Jones (second team)

2006

2006: Coming up just short

The gap between the Seahawks’ 1985 and 2006 seasons covered 20 years.

2006 Games
Key Date
November 12, 2006

Josh Brown connected on a 38-yard field goal with :09 remaining versus the Rams for his third game-winner of the season.

Key Date
January 14, 2006

Seattle’s hopes of returning to NFC Championship Game were dashed in an overtime loss at Chicago. Seattle battled into overtime, but a Robbie Gould 49-yard field goal allowed the Bears to prevail.

Key Date
December 03, 2006

Josh Brown tied an NFL record with his fourth game-winning field goal (inside the final minute of regulation or in overtime) with a 50-yard field goal at Denver with :05 left in the game. The win was the Seahawks first in Denver since December 10, 1995.

Draft Kelly Jennings
April 30, 2006

Drafted Miami cornerback Kelly Jennings with the 31st pick in the NFL Draft.

Key Date
November 06, 2006

Seattle recorded nine sacks at Qwest Field versus Oakland on Monday Night Football on the way to a 16-0 shutout of the Raiders.

Key Date
October 01, 2006

Seahawks Shaun Alexander missed the first of six games (at Chicago) with a broken foot he suffered in the season opener.

Key Date
February 12, 2006

Matt Hasselbeck completes 10 of 17 passes for 85 yards and Lofa Tatupu has a team-high six tackles as the NFC wins the Pro Bowl 23-17 in a defense-dominated game that features 10 turnovers and seven sacks. Linemen Walter Jones, Steve Hutchinson and Robbie Tobeck and fullback Mack Strong help the NFC convert eight of 18 third-down situations and control the ball for 32 minutes.

Key Date
October 22, 2006

Seattle’s Matt Hasselbeck injured his right knee on the first series of the second half versus the Vikings. He would miss the next four ballgames. Seneca Wallace went 2-2 in Hasselbeck’s absence.

Acquire Deion Branch
September 11, 2006

Seattle acquired WR Deion Branch from the New England Patriots in exchange for the Seahawks first-round selection in the 2007 NFL Draft.

Key Date
February 23, 2006

Pro Bowl guard Steve Hutchinson is given the transition tag rather than the franchise tag, a move that leads to him signing an offer sheet with the Vikings that the Seahawks decline to match. Hutchinson, the most-highly decorated guard in franchise history, had been voted to the Pro Bowl for three consecutive seasons (2003-05) and named All-Pro in 2003 and 2005.

Cortez Kennedy Induced into Seahawks Ring of Honor
September 17, 2006

Former Seahawks DT Cortez Kennedy was inducted into the Seahawks Ring of Honor.

Announce Plans to Move Facility to Renton
May 09, 2006

Seahawks announce plans to move practice facility to Renton waterfront.

Key Date
September 24, 2006

Seattle led the New York Giants 35-3 at halftime and won the game 42-30 behind Matt Hasselbeck’s club-record tying five touchdown passes.

Key Date
February 16, 2006

The Seahawks named John Marshall defensive coordinator and Ray Rhodes took on the title of special projects/defense. The Seahawks also named Zerick Rollins linebackers coach and promoted Tom Headlee to quality control/defense. Larry Marmie was also hired as a defensive assistant/secondary.

Key Date
November 27, 2006

Snow covered Qwest Field as Seattle defeated Green Bay 34-24 on Monday Night Football. Shaun Alexander rushed for 201 yards on a franchise-record 40 carries.

Acquire Nate Burleson
March 31, 2006

Seahawks acquired restricted free agent WR Nate Burleson from the Vikings in exchange for a third-round draft choice.

Key Date
March 27, 2006

Signed LB Julian Peterson.

NFC Wild Card Thriller
January 06, 2006

The Seahawks won their third consecutive home playoff game upending the Dallas Cowboys 21-20 in an NFC Wild Card thriller.

Key Date
September 10, 2006

Opened the season at Detroit’s Ford Field, site of Super Bowl XL, and won 9-6 on Josh Brown’s 42-yard game-winning field goal as time expired.

Key Date
March 06, 2006

Re-signed RB Shaun Alexander to a multi-year contract.

Key Date
October 15, 2006

Josh Brown connected on his second game-winner of the season, a 54-yard field goal at St. Louis as time expired.

I feel like this is probably the hardest season. Of all the years I have played professionally, this is the hardest one.
Mack Strong
“I am not apologizing for anything. We are all disappointed, but we’re not apologizing.
Coach Mike Holmgren
2006 Season Schedule
Click on any game
to see full statistics.
DateOpponentScoreW:L
9/10 AT Detroit 9-6 W
9/17 Arizona 21-10 W
9/24 New York Giants 42-30 W
10/1 AT Chicago 6-37 L
10/15 AT St. Louis 30-28 W
10/22 Minnesota 13-31 L
10/29 AT Kansas City 28-35 L
11/6 Oakland 16-0 W
11/12 St. Louis 24-22 W
11/19 AT San Francisco 14-20 L
11/27 Green Bay 34-24 W
12/3 AT Denver 23-20 W
12/10 AT Arizona 21-27 L
12/14 San Francisco 14-24 L
12/24 San Diego 17-20 L
12/31 AT Tampa Bay 23-7 W
POSTSEASON
1/6 Dallas Wildcard Game 21-20 W
1/14 AT Chicago Divisional Playoff 24-27 L
2006 Record
97
Playoffs: 1-1
2006 Offense
PosPlayerStarts
C Chris Spencer 5
C Chris Spencer 8
C Robbie Tobeck 8
G Chris Gray 15
G Rob Sims (R) 3
G William Henry 0
G Floyd Womack 8
G Floyd Womack 1
T Tom Ashworth 6
T Walter Jones 16
T Ray Willis 0
T Sean Locklear 10
TE Bennie Joppru 0
TE Will Heller 0
TE Jerramy Stevens 6
WR D.J. Hackett 4
WR Nate Burleson 7
WR Deion Branch 13
WR Bobby Engram 6
WR Ben Obomanu 0
WR Darrell Jackson 13
WR C.J. Jones 0
WR Justin Surrency 0
WR Peter Warrick 0
QB Travis Lulay 0
QB Matt Hasselbeck 12
QB Seneca Wallace 4
QB David Greene 0
FB Mack Strong 10
FB David Kirtman 0
RB Jimmy Dixon 0
RB Shaun Alexander 10
RB Maurice Morris 8
RB Marquis Weeks 0
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2006 Defense
PosPlayerStarts
DE Grant Wistrom 16
DE Bryce Fisher 16
DE Joe Tafoya 0
DE Darryl Tapp 0
DT Marcus Green 0
DT Chartric Darby 14
DT Russell Davis 0
DT Rocky Bernard 16
LB Cornelius Wortham 0
LB Niko Koutouvides 0
LB Lance Laury 0
LB Kevin Bentley 0
LB Marquis Cooper 0
MLB Lofa Tatupu 16
OLB Leroy Hill 15
OLB Julian Peterson 16
CB Kelly Jennings (R) 2
CB Gerard Ross 0
CB Marcus Trufant 15
DB Rich Gardner 0
DB Pete Hunter 0
DB Oliver Celestin 0
FS Ken Hamlin 16
SS Michael Boulware 8
SS Jordan Babineaux 8
+ View All-Time Roster
2006 Special Teams
PosPlayerStarts
K Josh Brown 16
K Josh Brown 16
LS Derek Rackley 0
P Ryan Plackemeier (R) 16
+ View All-Time Roster
A Team for All Seasons

VIDEO: A Team for All Seasons

On this Day in Seahawks History