Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The Holmgren Years: A Retrospective: 2003

This was the year everything clicked and everything turned around. No longer were the Seahawks scrambling to get to .500, this was the year they turned into a contender. Don't let the easy schedule fool you, this team was good.

After 2002, they fired Steve Sidwell as defensive coordinator and brought in the simple, fundamentals based Ray Rhodes. He got a lot of heat his time here, but with a relatively young defense, especially a young secondary, this hire was important. The Seahawks already had Ken Lucas, but thanks to a Vikings draft day slip up, Marcus Trufant fell into their lap. Later on they drafted Ken Hamlin. Overnight, the secondary was leaps and bounds better.

I remember the first game of the season, a home game against the Saints, as being a huge game. If this team, with its gluttonous talent was going to be a contender, they had to beat the Saints. From high atop the Hawks Nest, I think I cheered harder than I have for most games, I was depserate, I didn't get my voice back for four days. They hammered the Saints 27-10, but showed their one fatal flaw, finishing games.

The Seahawks in 2003 and 2004, couldn't close games. In 2003, this only came back to bite them on the road, but in 2004, it ruined the season. Had the Seahawks had a bounce here or there, they could have easily been 12-4 or 13-3. They always started incredibly fast, but halftime always seemed to zap the energy of this team and Holmgren would often close up the playbook.

Look at some of the leads they had at halftime

Saints: 21-3 Halftime

Cardinals:24-0 Halftime

49ers: 17-3 Halftime

Lions: 35-14 Halftime

Ravens: 27-10 Halftime

Cleveland 17-0 Halftime

Cardinals: 21-3 Halftime

7 of their 16 games they held at least a two touchdown lead at halftime.

This season had unforgettable games, the infamous wild card game against the Packers where Hasslebeck and Favre had a duel for the ages until Alex Bannister(why was he in the game?) ran the wrong hot route.

The two battles against the last great Rams team were classics. In Seattle, the official "We've arrived" game when they came back from 13 points down in the fourth quarter to win. And the intense, brutal, maddening loss in St. Louis where the refs would sooner swallow rat poison than slow down the greatest show on turf and the back judge tackled Bobby Engram. I'll also remember the Rams offensive line holding so blatantly that the announcers were reduced to silence. I'll also never forget the column Pete Prisco of cbs wrote about this game, truly a precursor to the media as we know it today. If I ever meet him in person, I'd like to chat with him about it. It was a hell of a battle.

I'll also never forget the "loss" to the Ravens, the Seahawks got a nice apology letter about that one. They made the vaunted Ravens defense look silly the entire game, forcing them to resort to their standard tactics of grabbing Shaun Alexander by the throat, choking him, and punching him, while the refs looked on. Of course, the refs wouldn't have had the chance to screw it up if our corners could stop a jump ball on a 4th and 26.

The high point was coming back from 14 down for only the second road win of the season against the 49ers to clinch a playoff spot. Absolute delirium when that happened.

This team was good, and talented, but a bit immature and not as physical as the 2005 team, but they were good, and that offense was just lethal.

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