With the Pro Bowl now behind us, it marked the last time Seattle Seahawks players would take the field for the 2012 season.
One of the most memorable seasons in Seahawks history is officially in the books. Too bad it couldn't have had a better ending.
From going 11-5 for the first time in team history to having two quarterbacks compete to decide who would become the new leader of the team, there were several moments that captured the attention of Seahawks fans throughout 2012.
Honorable mentions include the Seahawks' 58-0 win over the Arizona Cardinals, Russell Wilson's team record for rushing touchdowns by a quarterback against the Buffalo Bills, the near comeback over the Falcons in Atlanta, and the sprinklers randomly coming on during their game against the Miami Dolphins. All were memorable moments, but may easily be forgotten as years go by.
Here are 12 of the moments that will stick in the minds of Seahawks fans for many years to come when they think back to the 2012 season.
The Seahawks showing in the Pro Bowl wasn't quite enough to move Terrell Owens from the first of 12 spots on this list. Russell Wilson's performance was outstanding, but it wasn't nearly as memorable as seeing T.O. in a Seahawks uniform.
The biggest buzz of the Seahawks' preseason wasn't the team's biggest free-agent signing Matt Flynn, the number one draft pick Bruce Irvin, or future starting quarterback Russell Wilson. No, most of the Seattle preseason buzz was focused on Owens.
But as memorable as the buzz around Owens was, his play on the field was much less spectacular.
Though he did play the following week against the Kansas City Chiefs, his dropped touchdown catch from Flynn in the second preseason game against the Denver Broncos seemed to mark the end of his Hall of Fame career.
Fortunately he'll join an elite club along with Franco Harris, Carl Eller, Jerry Rice and John Randle as members of the Hall of Fame who chose to come to Seattle to finish their great careers.
The new NFL uniforms debuted back in April and the new uniforms for the Seahawks represented the most dramatic shift of any of the teams.
The reviews on the uniform were mixed. But if the shift in uniforms had any role at all in shifting the team from four-straight losing seasons to an 11-5 regular season, perhaps a few of the detractors were won over.
Looking back, this hardly seems as controversial of a decision as it was at the time. For weeks following Pete Carroll's choice to start the rookie quarterback over Matt Flynn, the debates raged on whether or not Russell Wilson was capable of taking this year's Seahawks team to the playoffs.
Wilson had played well in the preseason, perhaps even better than Flynn, but the free-agent quarterback's play in 2011 was still difficult to ignore. As fans recognized the team's strength on defense, the question was whether or not which quarterback was capable of leading Seattle to the playoffs.
Fortunately, by the end of the season there weren't many Seahawks fans left questioning whether or not Carroll made the correct choice.
Despite being the most negative memory of the season, this moment marked a significant point in the season for the Seahawks and fans.
Seattle was just coming off a 24-21 loss to the Miami Dolphins where the team allowed 17 points in the fourth quarter. The loss dropped their record to 6-5. Fans were faced with the idea of losing two of their top defenders before taking on the NFC North leading Chicago Bears.
It looked like the team's season could be on its way to a disappointing end. Nobody would have guessed at that point that the Seahawks would win out the remainder of the season and the Bears would fail to make the playoffs.
Ultimately, Seattle got by without Brandon Browner and went on a huge offensive scoring spree. Richard Sherman ended up winning his appeal, which was a memorable moment itself, but not nearly to the level of despair felt by many Seahawks fans when this news originally broke.
With Tarvaris Jackson starting at quarterback for most of the 2011 season, it was clear to fans that Seattle needed a franchise quarterback to keep moving forward. When the Seahawks signed Matt Flynn, it was the big free-agent move of the offseason for Seattle, especially after getting snubbed by Peyton Manning.
The report that the Seahawks would come after Manning with their "checkbook blazing" couldn't even garner a visit, so Seattle took what was the next best option in signing Flynn.
Many weren't even sure if Manning was the best option at that point of the season. Manning had almost as many neck surgeries (4) in 2011 as Flynn had touchdown passes (6). All six of Flynn's touchdown passes came in a 480-yard passing performance against the Detroit Lions.
At this moment of the season, it looked like the team had found their quarterback of the future.
For only the second time in history, a lifelong member of the Seattle Seahawks was inducted into the Hall of Fame.
Not only did seeing Kennedy up on stage putting on his yellow blazer remind fans of many great memories, he also delivered one of the best acceptance speeches. Kennedy tagged his speech with a shout-out to fans.
"I love the people I worked with and I am not just talking about all the players and coaches, I’m talking about the Seahawks fans the 12th Man," said Kennedy.
Had this happened sometime in the previous four years, as many Seahawks fans would argue it should have, it would easily make the top three moments of the season. Instead, it falls outside the top five on this list, but in no way should it diminish the significance of Kennedy's accomplishment.
Even though Seattle was on a two-game road winning streak, every time Seahawks fans watch the team go on the road it adds a level of anxiety that doesn't seem to exist when the team plays at home.
If you're a Seahawks fan in your mid-30s or younger, you either wouldn't remember or weren't alive when the Seahawks earned their last victory on the road in the playoffs. Sure, this is a different team than those others, but history has a tendency to add to that anxiety.
When the Redskins went up 14-0 in the first quarter of the wild-card game, it had the look of a very familiar history repeating itself. Then things started going the Seahawks' way.
Down 14-3, Marshawn Lynch picked up a fumble by Russell Wilson in the second quarter and rushed for 20 yards. The Seahawks went on to score a touchdown on that drive and the defense kept the Redskins off the scoreboard for the rest of the game.
By overcoming such a deficit, it made it obvious that this was a very different team than in years past. It was the type of comeback that has the potential to carry confidence of winning on the road into seasons that follow.
It certainly carried into the following week when the Seahawks were down 20-0 at halftime against the Falcons and were able to come back and take the lead. Seahawks fans have never seen a team that had that type of comeback ability, particularly on the road.
U MAD BRO?
Sherman tweeted it out after talking about how Brady wanted Sherman and Earl Thomas to come see him after the Patriots won the game. But the game clearly didn't turn out how Brady had anticipated.
In the 24-23 win, Russell Wilson was credited with his second fourth-quarter comeback of the season and Sherman accounted for one of two interceptions. Coming into the game, Brady had only thrown one interception all season.
The tweet helped make Sherman's name a household one and led to Jim Rome crowning him the "next great trash talker."
For Seahawks fans watching the 2012 NFL Draft, it became clear this year that the way to get good post-draft grades is to draft in a way that is predictable. Depart from the conventional wisdom of NFL analysts and your team can expect to be slammed.
But, for the Seahawks, being somewhat unconventional in their approach to finding personnel seems to be part of the team's competitive advantage. Mel Kiper Jr. should take note.
Of course Mel Kiper Jr. will tell you that he grades on the "draft process” and is not predicting future success of the players selected. But if the Seahawks process nets successful players like Bruce Irvin, Bobby Wagner, Russell Wilson and Robert Turbin, then we are left to question the process of analysts properly evaluating talent.
As the years go on, Seahawks fans can only expect the 2012 NFL Draft to continue to grow in its significance. Just as we're reminded every year that Tom Brady was selected in the sixth round of the 2000 draft, we'll be reminded every year that Jacksonville selected a punter in the third round before Russell Wilson came off the board in 2012.
Not bad for a team that "failed on draft day."
There was a time this season where not all Seahawks fans had settled in behind Russell Wilson and some were even holding out hope that Matt Flynn could still take over. Wilson had shown that he could win close games, but he hadn't really demonstrated the ability to put the team on his back and win until this moment.
Prior to the game against the Chicago Bears, the Seahawks were only 6-5 and had just come off a loss to the Miami Dolphins. The Bears were 8-3 and looking like they were on their way to the playoffs. The only victory on the road was against the Carolina Panthers.
Watching Wilson drive for two touchdowns of 97 yards to take a late lead and then another 80-yard drive in overtime for the win was a point that the remainder of the season hinged around.
Including that win, the Seahawks were 3-1 on the road for the rest of the regular season and the playoffs. Wilson was finally added to the Rookie of the Year discussion along with Robert Griffin III and Andrew Luck. It was the first of a six-game winning streak, and all the questions about Flynn changed to asking about what the Seahawks will do with him in the offseason.
One reason this would be so difficult for anyone to forget is that it seemed to run on an endless loop any time the Green Bay Packers were mentioned on ESPN. Their entire season seemingly revolved around this one play.
Packers fans blame this play as the reason why they didn’t get a first-round bye rather than blaming the fact they couldn’t beat the Vikings in the final week of the season. Even with a first-round bye, they likely would have faced the San Francisco 49ers in the playoffs. It's hard to think the outcome would have been much different.
For Seahawks fans, this moment represents a point in history when a call by the officials actually went Seattle's way. Some Seahawks fans remain steadfast in their belief that Tate caught the ball and that his push off was an acceptable part of the situation, others are willing to concede the interception and the non-call for offensive pass interference now that the win is in the books. The fact that there is that kind of divide seems to lend itself to the idea that perhaps simultaneous possession wasn't the terrible call it is made out to be.
It's one of those plays that nobody will universally agree on, but to win with a Hail Mary on the final play of a Monday Night Football game doesn't get much more exciting than that.
While the Golden Tate catch may be the most memorable moment for non-Seahawks fans, every Seahawks fan will remember the game against the eventual Super Bowl representative from the NFC.
The San Francisco 49ers were coming into the game following a win over the Patriots. It was a win that had them almost universally listed as the team to beat for the Super Bowl. On Sunday Night Football, just one week after that win on the same prime time stage, the Seahawks dominated their NFC West rival 42-13.
It was also a game that showed the immense impact the 12th Man could have on an opposing team. There wasn't a game this season louder than the game against San Francisco.
Simply by seeing the 49ers make it into the Super Bowl, it leaves fans with a long list of "what ifs." The biggest one being, "What if the Seahawks could have managed one more win in the regular season." With each one of their five losses within seven points or less, one could make a case for a play or two that could have turned any one of those games in Seattle's favor.
One more win and the Seahawks would have hosted at least one home playoff game and perhaps an NFC Championship Game in a season where they didn't lose a single game at home.
Unfortunately, a win by the 49ers in the Super Bowl would make the Week 16 win that much more memorable as the years go by and generate another round of thoughts of what could have been had things worked out just a bit differently.
Brandan Schulze is a Navy veteran and member of the Military Sea Hawkers, the military chapter of the official booster club for the Seattle Seahawks. For more information on the chapter, visit www.militaryseahawkers.com. Membership is free for all military service members and veterans.