Great Expectations

The Seahawks as preseason favorites to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl?

It not only happened in 1985, it was a logical progression after what the team achieved in its first two seasons under coach Chuck Knox. In 1983 came the unexpected playoff berth and even more improbable run to the AFC Championship game. In 1984, when Curt Warner went down with a season-ending knee injury in the opener, the Seahawks managed to win 12 games in the regular season and then upset the defending Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Raiders in the first round of the playoffs.

So, add Warner to that ’85 team and what do you get?

“It was, ‘Imagine what they’ll do if they have Curt Warner back.’ That’s why we were picked to go to the Super Bowl,” Dave Krieg, the quarterback during that era, said recently.

What the Seahawks did, however, was finish 8-8. And not just any old 8-8, mind you. There was a sinister symmetry to their .500-ness, as they won two games, lost two games, won two games and so on from promising start to disappointing finish. They never lost more than two in a row, nor won more than two in a row.

The question changed from what might happen with Warner’s return to how the heck what did happen occurred. How did basically the same team that won a dozen games the season before – and had its leading rusher back – manage to be so consistently inconsistent?

“In ’83, we were a flash in the sky,” Krieg said. “In ’84, they go, ‘Oh my God, they’re in the sky.’ In ’85, they thought, ‘Wow, they’re really shining bright.’ ”

They were only half right, however. When the Seahawks were good in ’85, they were very, very good. But when they weren’t, well, they got beat.

Included in the eight-up were season-opening wins at Cincinnati and San Diego a 30-point victory over a Raiders team that lost only four games all season and lopsided wins over Kansas City and Cleveland at the Kingdome. Included in the eight-down were five losses by 10 or fewer points to teams that won at least 11 games – the Raiders (12-4), Jets (11-5), Patriots (11-5) and Broncos (11-5), twice. All but the Broncos also advanced to the playoffs.

How could this happen? Warner ran for 1,094 yards, caught 47 passes and scored nine touchdowns. Steve Largent had 79 receptions for 1,287 yards – both club records. Darryl Turner had 13 touchdown catches – also the club record – including four in a wild 49-35 win over the Chargers in Week 2. The defense still had Jacob Green, who collected 13˝ sacks free safety John Harris, who intercepted seven passes strong safety Kenny Easley, the returning NFL defensive player of the year who was voted to his fourth consecutive Pro Bowl nose tackle Joe Nash, who had a career-high nine sacks and linebackers Fredd Young and Keith Butler, who finished 1-2 on the team by combining for 226 tackles.

“Once you start digging into it, it boils down to you just never know,” said Steve Raible, the former wide receiver who in ’85 was in his fourth season as the analyst for radio broadcasts of the team’s games.

Dig even deeper and the Seahawks allowed more rushing yards (1,837) than they produced (1,644) and had only a slight edge in passing yards (3,820 to 3,787). A team that scored 418 points in 1984 had 349 in ’85. A defense that contributed 38 interceptions in ’84 had 24 in ’85. Kicker Norm Johnson, who was 20 of 24 on field-goal attempts in ’84, finished 14 of 25 in ’85.

It was a lot of little things that added up to a big difference.

Including Krieg’s seesaw season, which mirrored that of his team. Again, when he was good, Krieg was en fuego. In the eight wins, his passer rating was 116.4, because he completed 65 percent of his passes for 2,084 yards, with 22 touchdowns and only two interceptions. He passed for five TDs against the Chargers and also had four-TD games against the Falcons and Browns.

In the eight losses, Krieg’s passer rating was 40.3, primarily because he threw 18 interceptions and only five TD passes – just one in the final four losses. He also completed 44 percent of his throws, and his average per attempt was 5.4 yards – compared to 8.3 in the eight wins. He threw four picks in a loss to the Chiefs in Kansas City and three each in an overtime loss to the Broncos in Denver and a seven-point setback to the Patriots at the Kingdome.

“It was the most rollercoaster-like season you could have imagined,” said Raible, speaking of the team’s performance, but offering an assessment that also described Krieg’s uneven efforts.

“So why 8-8? That’s exactly the way we played the whole season. There was just nothing exceptional about the season.”

Except that the Seahawks finished 8-8, and especially how they finished 8-8.

Raible looks back at the 33-3 win over the Raiders at the Kingdome and that shootout victory against the Chargers in San Diego and shakes his head.

“The team could rise to those occasions,” he said. “But it just couldn’t get over the hump every week. That two-wins/two-losses thing, by about midseason you could almost predict it.”

Which was not at all what everyone was predicting for the Seahawks before the season.

Year in Review
8-8 (third in AFC West)
Nordstrom family (majority owners)
Chuck Knox
WR Steve Largent (offense), CB Dave Brown (defense), RB Eric Lane (special teams)
Man of the Year
TE Mike Tice
Leading Passer
Dave Krieg (285 of 532 for 3,602 yards, with 27 TDs and 20 interceptions)
Leading Rusher
Curt Warner (1,094 yards)
Leading Receiver
Largent (79 receptions for 1,287 yards)
Leading Tackler(s)
LB Fredd Young (118)
Special Teams Tackles
LB John Kaiser (14)
Interception Leader(s)
FS John Harris (7)
Sack Leader
DE Jacob Green (13˝)
Leading Scorer(s)
K Norm Johnson (82 points)
Pro Bowl Selection(s)
Easley, Largent, Young
Easley, Largent (first team)


1985: Great Expectations

The Seahawks as preseason favorites to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl?

Key Date
November 10, 1985

Jacob Green returns an interception 19 yards for a touchdown, Steve Largent catches five passes for 110 yards and Dave Krieg completes 21 of 28 passes for 282 yards in a 27-3 victory over the Saints at Superdome.

Steve Largent Pro Bowl
February 2, 1985

Steve Largent catches a game-high eight passes for 82 yards, but the NFC wins the Pro Bowl 28-24. Kenny Easley (two tackles) and Fredd Young (one tackle) also are on the AFC squad.

Key Date
November 3, 1985

Terry Taylor returns an interception 75 yards for a touchdown and blocks a field goal attempt that is recovered by Byron Walker and returned 56 yards for a touchdown in Seattle’s 33-3 win over the Los Angeles Raiders at the Kingdome.

Key Date
October 13, 1985

Dave Krieg passes for 405 yards and four touchdowns, including a 12-yarder to Paul Skansi for the winning touchdown with 35 seconds remaining, as Seahawks defeat Atlanta, 30-26. Krieg directs the Seahawks 86 yards in 16 plays on the winning drive.

Key Date
June 18, 1985

Seahawks and Northwest College agree to a long-term lease for a new practice and office complex for the club in Kirkland. The facility will be built on 12 acres adjacent to Northwest College. A 36,000-square foot building will house the club’s administrative offices, locker room and training facilities.

Headquarter Ground-Breaking
October 21, 1985

Ceremonial ground-breaking is held for team’s new headquarters.

Curt Warner Returns from Injury
September 8, 1985

Curt Warner returns to the Seattle lineup after missing all but the 1984 opener as the Seahawks defeat Cincinnati, 28-24, at Riverfront Stadium. Warner gains 66 yards on 17 carries and scores the game-winning touchdown on an 11-yard run with 7:07 remaining

Final Training Camp in Cheney
July 20, 1985

Seahawks open their tenth and final training camp at Eastern Washington University in Cheney.

Key Date
September 15, 1985

Daryl Turner sets a club record with four touchdown catches and Dave Krieg equals another with five touchdown passes in Seattle’s 49-35 victory over the San Diego Chargers at Jack Murphy Stadium.

In ’83, we were a flash in the sky. In ’84, they go, ‘Oh my God, they’re in the sky.’ In ’85, they thought, ‘Wow, they’re really shining bright.
Dave Krieg
1985 Season Schedule
9/8 AT Cincinnati 28-24 W
9/15 AT San Diego 49-35 W
9/23 L.A. Rams 24-35 L
9/29 AT Kansas City 7-28 L
10/6 San Diego 26-21 W
10/13 Atlanta 30-26 W
10/20 AT Denver 10-13 L
10/27 AT New York Jets 14-17 L
11/3 L.A. Raiders 33-3 W
11/10 AT New Orleans 27-3 W
11/17 New England 13-20 L
11/25 AT San Francisco 6-19 L
12/1 Kansas City 24-6 W
12/8 Cleveland 31-13 W
12/15 AT L.A. Raiders 3-13 L
12/20 Denver 24-27 L
1985 Record
1985 Offense
C Blair Bush 16
C Kani Kauahi 0
G Bryan Millard 0
G Bob Cryder 0
G Jon Borchardt 0
G Edwin Bailey 16
G Bob Pratt 12
T Ron Essink 12
TE Charle Young 14
TE Dan Ross 0
TE Mike Tice 0
WR Byron Walker 0
WR Daryl Turner 12
WR Paul Skansi 0
WR Byron Franklin 0
WR Ray Butler 0
WR Steve Largent 16
WR Danny Greene 0
QB Dave Krieg 16
QB Gale Gilbert 0
RB John Williams 0
RB Curt Warner 16
RB Dan Doornink 0
RB Eric Lane 3
RB Andre Hardy 0
RB David Hughes 10
RB Randall Morris 0
RB Rick Parros 0
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1985 Defense
DE Randy Edwards 0
DE Jeff Bryant 16
DE Jacob Green 16
NT Reggie Kinlaw 0
NT Joe Nash 16
LB John Kaiser 0
LB Sam Merriman 0
LB Michael Jackson 16
LB Keith Butler 16
LB Shelton Robinson 0
LB Bruce Scholtz 16
LB Greg Gaines 0
LB Fredd Young 13
DB Kenny Easley 13
DB Dave Brown 16
DB Keith Simpson 0
DB Eugene Robinson 0
DB Terry Taylor 16
DB Rick Sanford 0
DB John Harris 16
DB Terry Jackson 0
DB Paul Moyer 0
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1985 Special Teams
K Norm Johnson 16
P Dave Finzer 12
P Jimmy Colquitt 2
P Jeff West 2
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1985: Rollercoaster Ride

VIDEO: 1985: Rollercoaster Ride

On this Day in Seahawks History