RENTON — Sunday marks the just second time the Raiders have played a regular-season game in Seattle in 16 years, a fact that only accentuates how visits from the Silver and Black used to be a highlight — if not THE highlight — of every Seahawk season.
“For me, and I think for all of my teammates at the time, that was the game,” said Steve Raible, who has been part of the team’s radio broadcast crew for 40 years and was a receiver for the team from its first year in 1976 until 1981. “They were the rivalry. We hated them and they hated us.”
That hatred has dissipated the last 20 years following Seattle’s move out of the AFC West and into the NFC West in 2002.
But preparing for the Raiders’ first game in Seattle on Sunday since 2014 had Raible — and he surmises, Seahawks fans — a little nostalgic for the way things used to be.
“I still sort of think of them that way,” Raible said, remembering when the Raiders were Seattle’s public enemy No. 1. “I think there are a lot of fans who go back that far who remember how much we disliked the Raiders.”
In that spirit, here’s a review of some memorable moments of what was one of Seattle’s first great pro sports rivalries:
A sweep to respectability
The Seahawks’ twin 9-7 seasons in 1978 and 1979 in their third and fourth seasons were keyed by sweeps of the Raiders, stunning success considering how good the Raiders were at the time.
That four-game win streak was kicked off by a 27-7 win over the Raiders at the Kingdome on Oct. 22, 1978, regarded as the Seahawks’ greatest performance to that point.
“Hawks win with ‘best game in history’” blared the headline the next day in The Seattle Times. Seattle rushed for 204 yards and pitched a shutout until a Raiders team that had won the Super Bowl two years before scored with just under five minutes to play.
“It was a complete defeat,” said then Raiders coach John Madden. “It was the first time I can remember when we were never in the game.”
Seattle backed it up with a 17-16 win in Oakland a few weeks later to become the first team in 13 years to sweep the Raiders.
The most bizarre win
Of Seattle’s 25 wins against the Raiders, none may be stranger than a 38-36 victory at the Kingdome in 1983, a game that ranks among the more inexplicable wins in team history.
Seattle was outgained 382-153 and held to just 2 net passing yards, yet won 38-36, thanks mostly to forcing eight turnovers, and also a 75-yard Paul Johns punt return. Seattle, in fact, scored 31 points in the second half while gaining just 50 yards. The 2 net passing yards remain the second-fewest in team history, and only one team since has won a game while recording fewer net passing yards — Houston with minus-5 in 2006, also against the Raiders.
Jim Zorn was just 4-16 for 13 yards and was benched midgame the following week, opening the door for the Dave Krieg era. The Seahawks beat the Raiders far more conventionally two weeks later in LA in Krieg’s first start of the year on the way to making the playoffs for the first time in team history. Alas, the Raiders got revenge with a 30-14 win in the AFC title game in January on their way to a Super Bowl title.
The epitome of Ground Chuck
Chuck Knox’s “Ground Chuck” moniker was a bit of a misnomer as all those Krieg-to-Steve Largent passes make clear. But if there was a game where he really earned that rep, it came during a 13-7 wild card playoff win over the Raiders following the 1984 season when LA was defending Super Bowl champs.
Hoping to try to negate a strong Raiders’ pass rush and cross up an LA team that surely figured Seattle wouldn’t try to run it much, Knox decided to run, run and run some more.
It somehow worked as Seattle ran it 51 times and threw it just 10. Dan Doornink gained 126 yards on 29 carries. Seattle ultimately rushed for 204 yards despite no run of longer than 14 yards in a 13-7 win.
“We probably used only three plays all day,” said guard Robert Pratt. “We ran it right at them.”
Hearing a din
What Seahawks fans of the ‘80s may remember most is Seattle’s dominance of the Raiders in the Kingdome — wins in seven of eight games from 1983-89 — games that cemented the reputation of the 12s.
During a 33-3 win over the Raiders in 1985, LA quarterback Marc Wilson four times asked the officials to try to quiet the Kingdome crowd to no avail. Once, he ended up drawing a delay-of-game penalty on a third-and-1.
The next year, Seattle won 37-0 on a Monday night, leaving Raiders offensive lineman Henry Lawrence to grouse that the Seahawks had an unfair advantage at the Kingdome.
“It was the crowd noise,” Lawrence said. “We had so much trouble hearing the snap count out there. The Kingdome should be banned.”
Said cornerback Lester Hayes: “We can’t beat those guys here. They could give us an all-star team and we couldn’t beat them. It’s a Seahawk-ism.”
Seattle won 14 of 24 games between the two from 1977-89, though the tables flipped some later and the Raiders now hold a 28-25 edge in the series.
Bo knows Tacoma
OK, so the Raiders did get the upper hand on the Seahawks their fair share of times in those days, such as the aforementioned ’83 title game.
There was also that Monday nighter in 1987 when the Raiders got their only win at the Kingdome in any game from 1981-90, 37-14, thanks to an otherworldly performance by Bo Jackson gaining 221 yards, including the famous 91-yard TD run down the sidelines and into the tunnel, eliciting Al Michaels’ famous line that Jackson was headed to Tacoma.
“Nobody runs away from Kenny Easley and he did,” said Raible, by then working in the radio booth. “When he ran into the tunnel, we were hoping he wouldn’t come out. Unfortunately he did.”
Winning a title
So, yes, it only seemed fitting that the Seahawks’ first banner came at the hands of the Raiders — a 43-37 win at the LA Memorial Coliseum in the regular season finale in 1988 that was a winner-take-all game for both teams for the AFC West in which Krieg threw for 410 yards.
The win also gave Seattle a sweep of the season series with the Raiders, games in which the Seahawks held Jackson to a combined 98 yards on 27 carries in getting some revenge for the year before.
A record-breaking swan song
We’ll skip past the ‘90s, which in every way was mostly forgettable for the Seahawks, including in the rivalry with the Raiders. Though there was one fun win in Oakland in 1996, a 28-21 victory keyed by the only touchdown pass former Heisman Trophy winner Gino Torretta ever threw in the NFL in a game in which Billy Joe Hobert started for the Raiders.
The final game between the two as AFC West rivals on Nov. 11, 2001, provided the setting for what remains among the most impressive individual performances in Seahawks history. Shaun Alexander rushed for a team-record 266 yards that still stands, including an 88-yard TD that tied a team mark that also still stands, in leading Seattle to a 34-27 win at Husky Stadium.
“I don’t know if that was Shaun Alexander or Jim Brown, man,” said Raiders coach Jon Gruden later.
The two teams have played only five times since.