At first glance, the series between the Seahawks and the New York Giants might not seem to have yielded too many games of significance.
The two teams have played 18 times in the Seahawks’ 45 years, with 11 of the games decided by 10 points or more.
But as they get set to meet again Sunday at Lumen Field (kickoff is at 1:05 p.m. on Fox), here’s something to consider: In each of Seattle’s three Super Bowl seasons, a late-season game against the Giants not only delivered the Seahawks a much-needed win that helped secure the No. 1 seed and home-field advantage for the playoffs, but also some indelible moments.
In 2005, en route to winning 11 straight on the road to their first Super Bowl appearance in franchise history, the Seahawks beat the Giants 27-24 in late November when New York kicker Jay Feely — who had missed only two field goals all year — missed three in the fourth quarter and overtime alone on a day when New York was also flagged for 11 — yes, 11 — false starts.
In December 2013, a week after losing at San Francisco, the Seahawks traveled to the site of that year’s Super Bowl, MetLife Stadium, and beat the Giants 23-0. They picked off five Eli Manning passes along the way — the most in a game in the Pete Carroll era and tied for third-most in team history. After talking to his team in the locker room, Carroll ventured back to the field for a quick look, suddenly feeling more confident than ever that the Seahawks might return in a few months. (Narrator’s voice: “They did.”)
And in November 2014, in the middle of crawling off the mat after a 3-2 start and winning nine of 10 to end the year and again secure the No. 1 seed and reach another Super Bowl, the Seahawks beat the Giants at home 38-17. They rushed for a team-record 350 yards, tying a team record with five rushing touchdowns as Marshawn Lynch tied the record with four of his own.
Could history repeat itself this year?
Certainly, the Seahawks can’t afford to stumble against the 4-7 Giants — set to go with backup Colt McCoy and his 7-21 record as a starter at quarterback in place of the injured Daniel Jones — if they want to get the No. 1 seed.
Seattle is as much as a 10.5-point favorite against the Giants in a weekend that sets up well for the Seahawks to get even better positioned in both the NFC West and the conference playoff picture.
While Seattle is playing a game it should win, Arizona is hosting the Rams. A Seattle win coupled with a Cardinals win would give Seattle a two-game lead on the rest of the division with everyone having four left to play.
Earlier Sunday, New Orleans — which, at 9-2, is the only team in the NFC with a better record than Seattle — is playing a Falcons team in Atlanta that has won four of six since firing head coach and former Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn and inserting Raheem Morris as interim coach, including a 43-6 blasting of the Raiders last Sunday.
Seattle probably can’t count on help when it comes to Green Bay, which is 8-3 and tied with the Seahawks for the No. 2 seed in the NFC (with Seattle holding the tiebreaker). The Packers are 8.5-point favorites at home against the Eagles.
But first things first for the Seahawks: Beating the Giants, and doing so after what is traditionally one of the tougher turnarounds in the NFL — a Sunday game after playing on the road the previous Monday night. (NFL teams this year are 11-17 overall the week after playing on Monday night.)
Carroll also said this week the Giants, in their first year under former New England assistant Joe Judge, have impressed him with their defense (10th overall in yards allowed per game at 340.1 and fifth against the run at 95.4) and running game (4.3 yards per attempt, 12th overall).
Carroll said the Giants defense “is playing really good up front’’ and that “they look like a team at this early stage in [Judge’s] coaching there, they have made a commitment to being physical and tough.’’
The loss of Jones, who is the Giants’ leading rusher with 403 yards and 7.3 per carry, obviously changes things.
The 34-year-old McCoy has started just seven games since 2011 with only one win — leading Washington to a 20-17 overtime victory at Dallas in 2014. He’s started just three games since that season.
That’s about as favorable of a scenario as the Seahawks could hope for to continue their defensive resurgence.
After allowing at least 23 points in each of their first eight games, the Seahawks have given up just 44 in their past 10 quarters, which includes a Hail Mary touchdown in the final seconds of Monday’s 23-17 win over the Eagles.
That was the second straight week Seattle allowed season lows in points and yards allowed, with the Seahawks now allowing 5.8 yards per play for the season, better than the 6.0 of a year ago.
“We definitely can feel the momentum of the shift happening,’’ Carroll said of the defense, before cautioning “last week doesn’t mean anything unless we do it again.’’
The shifting momentum, though, has been aided along by a schedule that featured struggling Carson Wentz last week, now a likely backup in McCoy, and then next week a visit by the winless Jets.
So yes, if we must, call this a Giant opportunity for the Seahawks.