Flores' finale

They had a 1,545-yard rusher and an 81-catch receiver. They also had two linebackers combine for 255 tackles. Then there was the Pro Bowl punter.

So how did the 1994 Seahawks finish 6-10, costing coach Tom Flores his job after only three seasons – and a 14-34 record?

As good an answer as any was played out in a locker-room scene the week of the season finale against the Browns in Cleveland, and then replayed during that 35-9 loss on Christmas Eve.

A rash of injuries in the secondary forced the Seahawks to start five different combinations in the final five games, and sign two defensive backs the week of the finale – Dion Lambert and Del Speer. They joined a jerry-rigged group that already included former first-round draft choice Terry Taylor and Tony Brown, who had been re-signed and signed earlier in the season.

After the Wednesday practice that week, secondary coach Paul Moyer rushed into the locker room to summon Lambert and Speer for a much-needed, crash-course meeting. Moyer was stopped by his own frustration as he tried to remember the names of his newest players. He finally gave up and, pointing emphatically at Lambert and then Speer, said, “You and you, come with me.”

Taylor and Brown already were starting because of injuries to cornerbacks Patrick Hunter, Carlton Gray, Nate Odomes and Orlando Watters. Backup safety Rafael Robinson started against the Browns because strong safety Robert Blackmon was out with a strained hamstring, leaving Lambert to start at free safety – after three days of practice. Also out: free safety Eugene Robinson (torn Achilles) and backup safety Dave McCloughan (sprained ankle) as well as backup safety Forney Duckett (strained hamstring), who had been signed the previous week.

Even Lambert admitted, “Some of the guys don’t know my name, and I don’t know theirs.”

Needless to say, when the Seahawks went to their nickel package against the Browns it was a plugged nickel.

So when Moyer called a certain coverage during the lopsided loss on a Saturday afternoon at old Cleveland Stadium when the wind chill was 22 degrees, Taylor frantically waved his arms and hollered to the sideline, “We can’t play that defense.” Pointing at the newest players, just as Moyer had on Wednesday, Taylor added, “Him and him don’t know it.”

Even before re-reaching that point of exasperation, it was over. Any chance the Seahawks had of winning that finale. The season. And, a few days later, Flores’ six-year stay in Seattle – the first three as president/general manager, the final three as general manager/head coach.

Flores actually announced his own firing, offering, “I’m not here to justify anything. I’m just here to tell you what happened. I’m not here to justify my existence.”

If there had been any justice, things would have gone better for Flores – and the Seahawks under him. His tenure was marked by class and honesty off the field, but simply not enough victories on it.

“The only barometer that we’re judged by – by anyone, including yourselves – is whether you win or lose,” he said at the time. “And we didn’t win. There were lots of empty seats in the stadium. So somebody has to be blamed. That’s the way this business operates.”

In another odd twist, the Seahawks did part of their business that season at Husky Stadium because the Kingdome was closed from July 19 to Nov. 5 after ceiling tiles fell. So their first three “home” games were played on the University of Washington campus.

The season also was marred by a December car crash near the team’s facility in Kirkland that left defensive tackle Mike Frier paralyzed Pro Bowl running back Chris Warren with cracked ribs and Lamar Smith, Warren’s backup, with a broken ankle.

Frier’s teammates played that week – against the Indianapolis Colts at the Kingdome – with his No. 92 scribbled on their wristbands and the tape covering their shoes. The Seahawks lost the game, 31-19.

“We thought we were prepared to play and rally around a tragedy,” said right tackle Howard Ballard, the team’s big addition in Plan B free agency that offseason. “I think everyone had the wreck out of their minds by the time the game started, but we made too many mistakes.

“None of us have ever gone through something like that accident and it probably was a distraction. Maybe everyone was trying too hard to play a good game under the circumstances.”

Things began better than they ended for Flores and the Seahawks in ’94. They opened on the road by drubbing the Redskins 28-7 in Washington, as Warren got his 1,545-yard season off to productive start by rushing for 100 yards and two touchdowns and the Raiders 38-9 in Los Angeles, as Rick Mirer passed for three TDs and Warren ran for two more.

The Seahawks followed a loss to the San Diego Chargers in their “home” opener by beating the Pittsburgh Steelers 30-13 in Week 4. But that 3-1 record quickly became 3-3 and then 3-7 as they lost six in a row. The skid was halted when fullback Mack Strong scored with 42 seconds to play to give the Seahawks a 22-21 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and they made it two in a row when John Kasay kicked a 32-yard field goal with 1:42 left in a 10-9 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs.

But they dropped three of their final four. It was not a fitting end, or the end anyone envisioned when owner Ken Behring brought Flores to Seattle after he had won two Super Bowls and 83 regular-season games in nine seasons (1979-87) as coach of the Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders.

“It was a very painful and agonizing decision,” said David Behring, Ken’s son who became club president in 1993. “It’s not something that I wanted to do. It’s something that we felt we had to do to take the team in a new direction. We just weren’t advancing and improving as fast as we had hoped for.”

The Seahawks’ six-win season had come despite the running game ranking third in the league, thanks to Warren’s then-club record rushing total a plus-4 turnover ratio and playing a fifth-place schedule.

There were other numbers that didn’t add up to six, either.

In addition to his AFC-leading yardage total, Warren also caught 41 passes and scored 11 TDs, both career bests at the time. In the lone down-the-stretch victory, he ran for 185 yards and a TD in a two-point win over the Oilers in Houston – even though he was playing with the cracked ribs.

Brian Blades also set a single-season record with his 81 receptions, including an AFC-best 33 on third downs, despite playing with bruised ribs and an assortment of other injuries so lengthy that former trainer Jim Whitesel would just write “everything” next to Blades’ name on the weekly injury report.

Punter Rick Tuten got some overdue Pro Bowl recognition after punting 91 times for 3,905 yards and dropping a then-club record 33 inside the 20-yard line.

Linebacker Terry Wooden, despite coming off the field in passing situations, led the team in tackles for losses (11½), shared the lead in interceptions (three) and finished second in solo (94) and total tackles (a career-high 127 and one less than linebacker Rod Stephens).

Defensive tackle Joe Nash, at 34 and in his 13th season, was expected to be a situational player. Instead, he started all 16 games for the third consecutive season and seventh time in his career. He had 48 tackles to finish second to Pro Bowl tackle Cortez Kennedy (70) among the D-linemen.

Kennedy was voted to the Pro Bowl for a fourth consecutive season, which seemed fitting after he demolished four players on one snap in the season-opener against the Redskins.

Mirer threw more TD passes (11) than interceptions (seven) for the only time in his four-year stint with the Seahawks. The former first-round draft choice also needed season-ending surgery after fracturing the thumb on his left hand in that fateful Week 14 loss to the Colts.

But it wasn’t enough to win more than six games, or save the jobs of Flores and his 12 assistant coaches.

“The total sweep was a surprise,” Kennedy said after the Dec. 29th purge. “But the Behrings, they own the football team and they do what they want to do and life goes on."

“To see Tom go out like this, it’s hard. To see the whole staff go, it’s sad.”

Year in Review
6-10 (fifth in AFC West)
Ken Behring
Tom Flores
C Ray Donaldson (off.), FS Eugene Robinson (def.), FB Tracy Johnson and snapper Trey Junkin (ST)
RB Chris Warren
Man of the Year
WR Brian Blades
Largent Award
Leading Passer
Rick Mirer (195 of 381 for 2,151 yards, with 11 TDs and 7 interceptions)
Leading Rusher
Warren (1,545 yards)
Leading Receiver
Blades (81 receptions for 1,086 yards)
Leading Tackler(s)
MLB Rod Stephens (128)
Special Teams Tackles
LB Dean Wells (16)
Interception Leader(s)
CB Patrick Hunter, Robinson, CB Orlando Watters, LB Terry Wooden (3)
Sack Leader
DE Michael Sinclair (4½)
Leading Scorer(s)
K John Kasay (85)
Pro Bowl Selection(s)
DT Cortez Kennedy, P Rick Tuten, Warren
Kennedy (first team); Warren, Tuten (second team)


1994: Flores' finale

They had a 1,545-yard rusher and an 81-catch receiver. They also had two linebackers combine for 255 tackles. Then there was the Pro Bowl punter. So how did the 1994 Seahawks finish 6-10, costing coach Tom Flores his job after only three seasons – and a 14-34 record?

Chris Warren Sets Franchise Rushing Record
December 24, 1994

Cleveland Browns defeat the Seahawks 35-9 in Cleveland Stadium, closing out a 6-10 season. Chris Warren finishes the season with a franchise record 1,545 rushing yards, a total that leads the AFC

Key Date
November 20, 1994

Mack Strong’s seven-yard touchdown run with 42 seconds left gives Seahawks a 22-21 win over the visiting Tampa Bay Buccaneers, breaking a six-game losing streak

Key Date
February 24, 1994

Nate Odomes, two-time Pro Bowl cornerback of the Buffalo Bills signs as a free agent.

Chis Warren Named AFC Offensive Player of the Week
September 25, 1994

Chris Warren earns AFC Offensive Player of the Week honors in a 30-13 win over the visiting Pittsburgh Steelers. Warren rushes for 125 yards and a touchdown, while the Seahawks defense intercepts four passes.

Curt Warner Inducted into Ring of Honor
November 27, 1994

Seahawks defeat Kansas City 10-9 behind John Kasay’s 32-yard field goal with 1:42 left. The back-to-back one-point wins are a franchise first. Chris Warren surpasses the 1,000-yard mark in the 12th game, the earliest in team history. Curt Warner inducted into Ring of Honor.

Key Date
December 11, 1994

Chris Warren rushes for a personal best 185 yards on 30 carries, including a touchdown in a 16-14 win at Houston. Warren, playing with cracked ribs, had 183 of his yards in the first three quarters.

Key Date
February 28, 1994

Odomes’ Buffalo teammate and fellow two-time Pro Bowler, tackle Howard Ballard signs as a free agent.

Key Date
September 18, 1994

San Diego Chargers stop Seahawks two-game winning streak, 24-10, before Seahawks record crowd of 65,536 in Husky Stadium.

Key Date
December 29, 1994

Tom Flores, Seahawks general manager/head coach from 1992-94, is relieved of his duties. Flores, who joined the organization in 1989 as president/general manager, compiled a 14-34 regular season record. All 12 of Flores’ assistants were also fired.

Key Date
December 18, 1994

Chris Warren tops 100 yards for the seventh time with 122, but the Los Angeles Raiders escape with a 17-16 Kingdome win.

Key Date
September 11, 1994

Chris Warren scores two touchdowns for the second straight week as Seahawks go 2-0 with a 38-9 win over the Raiders in Los Angeles. Rick Mirer tosses three touchdown passes

Key Date
November 6, 1994

Cincinnati Bengals spoil Seahawks return to Kingdome with a 20-17 overtime win. Doug Pelfrey kicks six field goals, including a 26-yarder 8:14 into overtime for the win.

First-Ever Outdoor Game
August 13, 1994

Seahawks play first-ever outdoor game in Seattle defeating Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 29-6, in Husky Stadium.

Key Date
September 4, 1994

Seahawks capture season opener for first time since 1988 with a 28-7 win at the Washington Redskins, as Chris Warren rushes for 100 yards and two touchdowns. The win is the 100th in the career of Head Coach Tom Flores.

Sam Adams Drafted First Round
April 24, 1994

Texas A&M University defensive tackle Sam Adams is the Seahawks first-round draft choice. Adams is the eighth player picked in the first round.

Kingdome Closure
July 19, 1994

Kingdome ceiling tiles fall from roof forcing closure of the building until November 5. Seahawks play both preseason games and first three regular season games in the University of Washington’s 72,500 seat Husky Stadium.

It was a very painful and agonizing decision. It’s not something that I wanted to do. It’s something that we felt we had to do to take the team in a new direction. We just weren’t advancing and improving as fast as we had hoped for.
David Behring
The total sweep was a surprise. But the Behrings, they own the football team and they do what they want to do and life goes on. To see Tom go out like this, it’s hard. To see the whole staff go, it’s sad.
Cortez Kennedy
1994 Season Schedule
9/4 AT Washington 28-7 W
9/11 AT L.A. Raiders 38-9 W
9/18 San Diego 10-24 L
9/25 Pittsburgh 30-13 W
10/2 AT Indianapolis 15-17 L
10/9 Denver 9-16 L
10/23 AT Kansas City 23-38 L
10/30 AT San Diego 15-35 L
11/6 Cincinnati 17-20 L
11/13 AT Denver 10-17 L
11/20 Tampa Bay 22-21 W
11/27 Kansas City 10-9 W
12/4 Indianapolis 19-31 L
12/11 AT Houston 16-14 W
12/18 L.A. Raiders 16-17 L
12/24 AT Cleveland 9-35 L
1994 Record
1994 Offense
C Joe Tofflemire 0
C Ray Donaldson 16
G Bill Hitchcock 0
G Mitch Frerotte 0
G Jeff Blackshear 16
G James Atkins 0
G Kevin Mawae (R) 11
T Mike Kegarise 0
T Mike Keim 0
T Mike Moody 0
T Ray Roberts 14
T Howard Ballard 16
TE Paul Green 11
TE Trey Junkin 0
TE Carlester Crumpler 0
TE Ferrell Edmunds 7
WR Brian Blades 16
WR Reggie Barrett 0
WR Michael Bates (R) 5
WR Ronnie Harris 0
WR Terrence Warren 0
WR Kelvin Martin 15
WR James McKnight 0
WR Robb Thomas 0
QB Dan McGwire 3
QB Rick Mirer 13
QB Stan Gelbaugh 0
QB Jeff Graham 0
FB Tracy Johnson 10
FB Steve Smith 0
RB Chris Warren 15
RB Mack Strong 0
RB Lamar Smith 0
RB Beno Bryant 0
+ View All-Time Roster
1994 Defense
DE Michael Sinclair 0
DE Brent Williams 9
DE Michael McCrary 0
DE Antonio Edwards 8
DE Antonio Edwards 6
DE Mike Frier 0
DE Bobby Hamilton 0
DE Sam Adams (R) 6
DT Cortez Kennedy 16
DT Tyrone Rodgers 0
DT Matt Werner 0
DT Joe Nash 15
LB Dean Wells 0
LB Bob Spitulski 0
LB Duane Bickett 0
LB David Brandon 0
LB Steve Bryant 0
MLB Rod Stephens 16
OLB Terry Wooden 15
OLB Rufus Porter 14
CB Orlando Watters 0
CB Patrick Hunter 5
CB Nate Odomes 0
CB Forey Duckett 0
CB Tony Brown 5
CB Carlton Gray 11
DB Dion Lambert 0
DB Dave McCloughan 0
DB Brian Allred 0
DB Kirby Jackson 0
DB Rafael Robinson 0
DB Terry Taylor 3
DB Del Speer 0
FS Eugene Robinson 14
SAF Jay Bellamy 0
SS Robert Blackmon 15
+ View All-Time Roster
1994 Special Teams
K John Kasay 16
P Rick Tuten 16
+ View All-Time Roster
1994: Bright Future

VIDEO: 1994: Bright Future

Seahawks Legends Interview: Eugene Robinson

VIDEO: Seahawks Legends Interview: Eugene Robinson

On this Day in Seahawks History