On Saturday, Seattle plays their old AFC West buddies, the Denver Broncos, in the third round of preseason matches. These games don’t count, but they matter, pro football experts like to say.
Those who are more than just casual fans–the type who will watch any NFL game, just because it’s on–already know that Week 3 is when starters play the most before the season. Maybe we will get a glimmer of the old Seahawk-Bronco intensity.
Both teams are at dramatic crossroads before the game even starts. Seattle quarterbacks Tarvaris Jackson and Charlie Whitehurst have the fan base divided, while Tim Tebow and Kyle Orton find themselves in a similar spot. Every snap tonight, for all of them, could be make-or-break.
In total during those American Football Conference West days (1977-2001), Seattle and Denver played one another 49 times in the regular season. The Broncos won 32 of those. Since moving back to the NFC, Seattle also has lost two of three to Denver, including last season’s pasting at Mile High’s INVESCO Field. They are in no danger of meeting in the Super Bowl, so we may not see these colors clash again for a while.
The meetings during the 1983 season were a few of the rivalry’s most exciting. The L.A. Raiders ran away with the division that year, so Seattle and Denver were battling for second place and a wildcard slot. The ‘Hawks got a 27-19 win at the Kingdome in Week 10. Two weeks later, Denver tasted revenge in Mile High, 38-27.
Neither team could catch the Raiders, nor separate from the other. So their records ended in a 9-7 tie. Seattle was to host Denver for the most important game in series history.
December 24, 1983.
This Christmas Eve game was the only time these franchises have met in the playoffs. It was Seattle’s first appearance ever. Up until that day, the eight-year-old Seahawks were 6-8 head-to-head against Denver.
The first half was muted, as each team seemed to be trying to wrest control with deliberate offense. That changed in the third quarter when Dave Krieg took scissors to Denver’s defense, throwing for 200 yards and three scores. Rookie Curt Warner made a big impression, recording over 120 yards total offense. The Seahawks scored 24 straight, on the way to a 31-7 domination.
Seattle beat the Dolphins in a 27-20 thriller the following game, and moved on to the AFC Championship versus the Raiders. But despite sweeping this 12-4 team in the regular season, the Seahawks ran out of steam here.
Los Angeles stomped early and often, going up 20-0 before the Seahawks could catch a breath. All they could do was match L.A. in the second half, sputtering to a 30-14 finish.
The finest Seattle-Denver game should have been Super Bowl XL. That year, Pittsburgh waxed Denver in the conference title game, embarrassed Seattle in a still-controversial game, and that was that. Had the Broncos beat the Steelers, the new best chapter in this now dormant rivalry was as good as written.