Seahawks fans, let’s stop anguishing and focus on a bright future.
And indulge me as I take a stab at Seattle’s 10 toughest sports losses.
Picture this: It’s Feb. 7, 2016. The gritty, motivated Seahawks rebounded from 2015’s Super Bowl loss and pounded their way to a 13-3 record.
Despite a fat new contract, Russell Wilson enjoyed his best season yet, and Marshawn Lynch surprised everyone by returning to Seattle with a new three-year contract. Seemingly rejuvenated after the NFL loosened its policy on mandatory media interviews, Lynch again rushed for 1,200 yards and added an 82-yard “BeatQuake IV” TD to his resume.
The Hawks lost Byron Maxwell, Malcolm Smith, James Carpenter, and other mainstays to free agency. But the emergence of Chris Matthews and the clutch play of Jermaine Kearse, along with resigning Bobby Wagner and trading for Larry Fitzgerald, overshadowed those departures.
Today, the Hawks fought the Patriots at Santa Clara’s Levi Stadium in a rematch of the 2015 Super Bowl. Tom Brady talked of returning to his native Bay Area and winning a fifth ring – “one for the thumb.”
But it was the Seahawks who earned the Super Bowl rings, and this time it wasn’t close: 31-17. Lynch ran for two TDs while Wilson threw for one and rushed for another on a read option.
Afterward, Pete Carroll said this win was “sweet, but it won’t define who we are. We’re always looking to improve, to take that next step, and sustained excellence is what Seahawks football is all about.”
Top-10 painful losses in Seattle sports
In my lifetime, these are the local-team losses that hurt the worst. Not necessarily because they’re the most significant, but because victory seemed so assured until the end.
- Honorable mention, December1998: Seahawks lead the Jets 31-19 starting the fourth quarter. With 20 seconds remaining, the Seahawks stop QB Vinny Testeverde ½ yard short of the end zone on 4th down. But one ref mistakes Testeverde’s helmet for the football and signals the infamous “Phantom Touchdown.” Hawks lose 32-31, keeping them out of playoffs. The undeniably bad call, caught on TV, compels the NFL to implement instant replay the next season.
- Honorable mention, June 1996: Sonics lose the NBA Finals to Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls, 4 games to 2. (The series wasn’t really all that close.)
- No. 10, November 2014: UW Huskies lose to No. 17 Arizona 27-26. After dominating the Wildcats with just 90 seconds left, the Huskies needed only to kneel down three times to win 26-24 and go 7-4 on the season. Instead they ran it, fumbled, and lost on a Wildcat field goal as time expired. A particularly tough loss, because new coach Chris Peterson needed to demonstrate his Huskies would be disciplined, determined, and different.
- No. 9, August 1960: Miss Spokane robbed of victory when flares stop Seafair hydroplane race. The underdog boat had beaten Miss Thriftway twice and was on the homestretch of the final lap, mere seconds from the checkered flag, when officials fired flares to stop the race after seeing Miss U.S.1 catch on fire. Thriftway won the rerun; Miss Spokane took second and never did win a regatta.
- No. 8, March 2006: Huskies lose in OT in NCAA Sweet 16. A 26-7 UW team led by Pac-10 Player of the Year Brandon Roy led Connecticut 82-79 with 2 seconds left in regulation but gave up a 3-pointer, then lost in overtime, narrowly missing entry into the Elite 8. The tight finish resembled 1998, when Connecticut beat Washington 75-74 on a buzzer-beating shot in the Sweet 16.
- No. 7, May 1994: Denver ousts Seattle in first round of NBA playoffs. The Sonics earned the NBA’s best record at 63-19 and went up 2-0 in the early games against the 8th (and last) seed Denver Nuggets. Then the Sonics lost three in a row, including game 5 at the Coliseum. Dikembe Mutombo rolled on the floor at the buzzer, clutching the ball and weeping.
- No. 6, November 2014: Sounders lose to L.A. Galaxy in playoffs. Seattle posted the best record in the MLS, but lost to the Galaxy at home on an away-goals tiebreaker and misses the MLS Cup final, despite being up 2-0 nine minutes into the second half.
- No. 5, October 2001: Mariners fizzle against Yankees in playoffs. Despite winning a MLB record 116 regular-season games, Seattle lost to New York 4 games to 1 in the ALCS. Seattle lost the first two games at home, won game 3 in NY, then lost the final two. (Perhaps it was foreshadowed on Seafair Sunday, Aug. 5, when the Mariners led Cleveland 14-2 entering the 6th inning but collapsed, losing 15-14 in 11 innings.)
- No. 4, January 2006: Refs rob Seahawks in Super Bowl XL. Seattle finished 13-3 and earned the No. 1 seed in the NFC. Shaun Alexander was named league MVP after rushing for 1,880 yards and 28 TDs. Then the Super Bowl refs botched three crucial calls, nullifying key plays, and the Hawks lost to 6th-seed Pittsburgh 21-10.
- No. 3, June 1978: Sonics lose to Bullets in game 7 of NBA Finals. After going up 3 games to 2, “Downtown” Freddie Brown tells his TV audience, “We’re going to win it. Trust me.” But the Washington Bullets won decisive game 7 at Seattle Center Coliseum when the ball rolled between center Marvin Webster’s legs on a key late possession. Bullets 105, Sonics 99.
- No. 2, February 2015: Seahawks lose the Super Bowl on a last-minute interception at the Patriots’ goal line. The play came after Marshawn Lynch rushed for 102 yards, Wilson threw for 247 and 2 TDs, and Jermaine Kearse made a circus catch to set up the game-winning score … not.
- No. 1, by a wide margin: July 2008, the Seattle SuperSonics are stolen and shipped to Oklahoma City. At least after last Sunday’s inexplicable Super Bowl loss, there’s “wait until next year.” For the Sonics, there was and is no next year. Even after David Stern’s retirement, the NBA continues to tell Seattle, “get lost.”