Friday, January 16, 2015

Seattle vs. Green Bay in the Postseason

The NFC's top two teams will square off on Sunday with a trip to Super Bowl XLIX on the line. The Seahawks will host the Packers in the third playoff meeting between these two clubs.

2003 Wild Card

Green Bay and Seattle both finished 10-6 in 2003, with the NFC North-champion Packers hosting the wild-card Seahawks at Lambeau Field. Matt Hasselbeck led the visitors on a field-goal drive on their first possession, while Brett Favre's offense stalled out on its first three drives.

The two teams traded short field goals early in the second quarter, but the Packers offense woke up before halftime. Favre's 44-yard strike to Javon Walker helped set up a 23-yard touchdown pass to Bubba Franks. A quick Seattle three-and-out gave it right back to Green Bay, who scored in the period's final minute on Ryan Longwell's 27-yard field goal for a 13-6 lead at the break.

Hasselbeck went 11-for-14 for 136 yards on Seattle's two third-quarter possessions, and both ended in 1-yard TD plunges by Shaun Alexander and the Seahawks took a 20-13 lead. The Packers answered with a 12-play drive that included two third-down conversions and another on fourth down, as Ahman Green scored the tying touchdown with just over ten minutes left.

Three Hasselbeck incompletions gave the Pack the ball just 30 seconds later. Green Bay plodded along, extending their drive with Green's 4th-and-1 conversion and Najeh Davenport's first down on 3rd-and-1. They needed 12 plays and nearly seven minutes to go 51 yards, the last coming on Green's 1-yard dive for a 27-20 lead with 2:48 to play.

The Seahawks took over at their own 33, and Hasselbeck started the drive with completions to Koren Robinson and Darrell Jackson before the biggest play of the series. On the first play after the two-minute-warning, Hasselbeck hit Bobby Engram for 34 yards to set them up at the Green Bay 8-yard line. The Packers made two stops and nearly had a third, but a pass interference call on Nick Barnett gave Seattle a new set of downs. Alexander followed with his third 1-yard touchdown of the day and it was tied at 27 in the final minute. Favre drove the Pack into field goal range in three plays, but Longwell missed from 47 yards on the final play of regulation.

Hasselbeck was excited when his call of heads for the overtime coin toss was correct:

Even referee Bernie Kukar had to crack a smile when Hasselbeck said, "we want the ball and we're gonna score." After both teams went three-and-out on their opening OT drives, Hasselbeck picked up one first down before facing 3rd-and-11 at his own 45...

The pass intended for Alex Bannister (short of the sticks, anyway) turned into a 52-yard pick six by Al Harris was the first overtime defensive touchdown in NFL postseason history.

Year Tm Year Date ▴ Time LTime Opp Day Result Play
1 BAL 1958 1958-12-28 @ NYG Sun W 23-17 Alan Ameche 1-yard rush
2 OAK 1977 1977-12-24 12:30 12:30 @ BAL Sat W 37-31 Ken Stabler 10-yard pass to Dave Casper (2 OT)
3 RAM 1989 1990-01-07 12:30 12:30 @ NYG Sun W 19-13 Jim Everett 30-yard pass to Flipper Anderson
4 MIA 2000 2000-12-30 12:33 12:33 IND Sat W 23-17 Lamar Smith 17-yard rush
5 GNB 2003 2004-01-04 1:04 12:04 SEA Sun W 33-27 Al Harris 52-yard interception return
6 CAR 2003 2004-01-10 4:30 3:30 @ STL Sat W 29-23 Jake Delhomme 69-yard pass to Steve Smith (2 OT)
7 SDG 2008 2009-01-03 8:08 5:08 IND Sat W 23-17 Darren Sproles 22-yard rush
8 ARI 2009 2010-01-10 4:30 2:30 GNB Sun W 51-45 Karlos Dansby 17-yard fumble return
9 DEN 2011 2012-01-08 4:40 2:40 PIT Sun W 29-23 Tim Tebow 80-yard pass to Demaryius Thomas
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 1/13/2015.

The Packers went to Philadelphia a week later and were one play away from the NFC title game. But Donovan McNabb and Freddie Mitchell converted a 4th-and-26 to help the Eagles send the divisional round game to overtime before winning 20-17.

2007 Divisional

The Packers went 13-3 in 2007, earning the two-seed and a first-round bye in the NFC playoffs. Seattle was third with a 10-6 mark and went back to Lambeau after easily dispatching Washington in the first round.

Ryan Grant fumbled on the first play from scrimmage and Lofa Tatupu ran it back to the Green Bay 1-yard line to set up an Alexander touchdown only 20 seconds into the game. (0:15 mark of these highlights, other significant plays will be timestamped as well). Grant fumbled again on the second play of the next drive, and six plays later, Hasselbeck hit Engram from 11 yards out for a surprising 14-0 lead (0:55).

As the snow started to come down harder, Favre struck back quickly though. A 31-yard pass to James Jones on third down led to a 15-yarder to Greg Jennings that put the Pack on the board (1:30). Green Bay got the ball right back and Grant broke out for two big runs before scoring from one yard out to tie the game by the end of the first quarter (1:46).

On the second play of the ensuing drive, Marcus Pollard fumbled it back to the Packers (1:58) and Favre made them pay with another TD toss to Jennings to put Green Bay in front for the first time (2:20).

The back-and-forth took a turn in the middle of the second. Seattle couldn't convert 3rd-and-7 from the 10 and settled for a field goal, but on 3rd-and-8 at the 14, Favre hit Donald Lee for 11 yards with one of his ridiculous underhanded-flip-while-falling plays (2:55). Grant ran it in from the three on the next play to make it 28-17 Packers at halftime.

Seattle went three-and-out to open the third quarter and Green Bay went right down the field, with Grant's 24-yard rumble setting up Brandon Jackson's 13-yard catch-and-run score (3:28). Already sitting on a 35-20 lead in the fourth, the Packers put it away. Grant broke out for a 43-yard rumble before getting tripped up at the Seattle 15. He settled for a 1-yard score to put the cherry on top of a 42-20 rout (3:52).

In sub-zero temperatures, the Packers hosted an classic NFC Championship Game against the underdog Giants. Eli Manning bested Favre in overtime, 23-20.


If we include Milwaukee teams with Green Bay, as I like to do for these city playoff histories, there is one other postseason meeting on the list.

1980 West Semis

Led by Marques Johnson and NBA All-Defensive Second Teamer Quinn Buckner, Don Nelson's Milwaukee Bucks won the Midwest Division at 49-33. Thanks in part to Gus Williams and All-Defensive Second Teamer Dennis Johnson, Lenny Wilkens guided the defending champion Seattle SuperSonics to a 56-26 mark. However, because the Lakers beat them out for the Pacific Division crown, the West's second-best team had to settle for the three seed and had to play in the opening round. The Sonics edged Portland 2-1 to reach the West Semis against Milwaukee.

The highlight of the series was Game One in Seattle (I guess home-court in the later rounds was still determined by record). It was tied at 111 in the final seconds when the Bucks stole the ball and got a Marques Johnson dunk with six seconds left. With no timeouts, Dennis Johnson flew up the court for Seattle and chucked up a prayer from way behind the arc and drilled it for a 114-113 lead.

Buckner and Marques Johnson made a well-executed try for an inbound alley-oop, but it didn't go down and the Sonics escaped with a win in the opener.

Sidney Moncrief led the Bucks to a Game Two overtime victory before going home and taking the third game as well behind Bob Lanier's 24 points. Down 2-1 on the road, the champion Sonics pulled out a 112-107 road win that wasn't as close as the final score indicated. But they gave the advantage back to the Bucks two nights later in Seattle. In front of the largest crowd in NBA history at the time, Milwaukee cruised to an 11-point win to take a 3-2 series lead.

Seattle blew a 13-point lead in Game Six in Milwaukee, but held on to win 86-85 to force a seventh game back at home. The Sonics trailed by six in the fourth quarter of the ultimate game, but Downtown Freddie Brown scored ten points in the final period and Gus Williams netted the last of his 33 points with critical last-minute free throws to seal a 98-94 victory.

The Sonics advanced to the West Finals against the Lakers, where Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and a rookie named Magic Johnson dispatched them in five games.

After the season, the Bucks and Bulls switched from the Western Conference to the Eastern Conference while the Rockets and Spurs went East-to-West.

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