Russell Wilson making the good kind of history every week, and helping overcome a defense that has been making a little dubious history of its own, has allowed the Seahawks to get into some rarefied air as a team.
OK, so a 3-0 start isn’t that big of a deal in the Any Given Sunday world of the NFL.
Still, just seven of 32 teams have done so this year.
That number of seven actually matches the number of times the Seahawks have started 3-0 in their 45-year history, and despite the massive success of the Pete Carroll era, this is only the second time it’s happened in his 10-year tenure.
Historically, a 3-0 start means having already taken a big step toward the playoffs. Teams that have started 3-0 since 1980 have made the playoffs 75% of the time, and those odds are better now that seven teams make the postseason in each conference instead of six (last year, five of seven teams that started 3-0 made the playoffs. The two that didn’t were the Rams and Cowboys).
So, what happened the other six times Seattle started 3-0?
Glad you asked.
Here’s a quick look at each of the Seahawks’ 3-0 starts:
In Chuck Knox’s fourth year, the Seahawks looked ready to get back to the playoffs after the 8-8 disappointment of the year before, beating Pittsburgh, Kansas City and New England by a combined 91-48.
Instead, that start merely set in motion one of the stranger seasons in Seahawks history. Seattle lost six of its next eight, during which time Dave Krieg actually was benched for two games for Gale Gilbert, who lost both starts and would start only two other games in his career.
With Krieg back in the saddle, Seattle then won its last five games, including a 41-16 rout of Super Bowl-bound Denver, looking like the best team in the NFL at the end of the year (Seattle also beat Super Bowl champ New York Giants that season).
Alas, a 10-6 record was not enough to make the playoffs, and this season ranks in the eyes of most longtime Seahawks fans as one of the biggest what-might-have-beens in team history.
Dennis Erickson entered his fourth year as Seattle’s head coach with lots of questions about his future. It looked promising when the Seahawks won their first three games by a combined 95-28.
But the Seahawks then lost six of their next eight games, and any hope of a playoff berth — and saving Erickson’s job — evaporated with the infamous late-season defeat against the Jets on Vinny Testaverde’s phantom touchdown. Seattle finished 8-8 and Erickson was fired, replaced by Mike Holmgren.
It was Holmgren who was on the hot seat when the 2003 season began following three playoff-less seasons and with Matt Hasselbeck having not yet completely proven himself as the team’s quarterback.
But questions about both were answered quickly as Seattle started 3-0 and 5-1 en route to a 10-6 record and a wild-card playoff berth (the infamous “we want the ball” defeat at Green Bay), the first of five consecutive postseason appearances.
The 2004 season was a lot like 2003 — a 3-0 start and then a somewhat meandering road to the playoffs with a 9-7 record and a defeat in the wild-card game.
Seattle blew a chance to go 4-0 for the first time when it also blew a 27-10 lead with 8:42 left to lose to the Rams in overtime. Another defeat against the Rams in the playoffs ended what ultimately felt like a disappointing season.
There was no apparent sign of a Super Bowl hangover for the Seahawks in the year following their first appearance in the big game as Seattle won its first three of 2006, capped by a victory over the Giants in which Hasselbeck threw five touchdown passes (Seattle building a 42-3 lead before New York scored 27 fourth-quarter points).
But a rout at Chicago against a Bears team that would go to the Super Bowl foreshadowed some struggles to come as the Seahawks meandered their way to a 9-7 record and a wild-card berth, where they advanced thanks to Tony Romo’s famous fumble before another loss at Chicago ended things.
The Holy Grail of Seahawks seasons is the only one in which Seattle started 3-0 and then won its fourth game.
Seattle won two blowouts and two thrillers on the way to a 4-0 start, then after a defeat at Indianapolis won seven more en route to a franchise-best 13-3 record, home-field advantage in the playoffs and ultimately the Super Bowl.
If you kept track of the six teams above, four made the playoffs.
As you also might have noted, some of the best teams in Seattle history didn’t start 3-0, such as the 2005 team, which started 2-2 before winning 11 in a row; the 1984 team, which started 2-1 and 4-2 then won eight in a row; and the 2014 team, which memorably started 3-3 before winning nine of its last 10.
With only the 2013 team starting 4-0, the team this year has a chance to make a little history of its own, favored by 6½ points Sunday at Miami.
Seattle also will be favored the following week at home against Minnesota with a chance to become the first team in Seahawks history to get to 5-0.
But as Carroll often says, it’s not how you start but how you finish, and a 3-0 beginning can be pretty quickly forgotten by what happens next.