The '90s are largely a forgotten blur in the minds of most Seahawks fans, but there's one game—and one play, in particular—that you could consider the saving grace of football in Seattle.
To set the stage, in March of 1996, owner Ken Behring (a name reviled on the level of Clay Bennett in the Pacific Northwest) actually moved the team to Anaheim and began workouts near Disneyland. Only direct involvement from the NFL forced the team back to Seattle, and though Paul Allen purchased an option to buy the team, nothing was concrete yet.
Add in a load of off-field troubles for players, and you had a relatively unhappy group of fans.
The team was 3-5 at that point in the season, coming off five consecutive seasons of .500 or less (sometimes significantly less).
Two fumbles, an interception, and three sacks made it look like the Hawks were en route to another miserable ending. They had fought valiantly, trading field goals until the fourth, when both teams managed a touchdown.
With four seconds left in the game, the score was tied at 16-all. The Oilers marched down the field and set up a game-winning 37-yard field goal from Al Del Greco.
Things looked bleak. Del Greco already had successful kicks of 35, 36, and 45 yards on the day, so a 37-yarder seemed like a chip shot. The ball was snapped, Del Greco stepped up to kick, and another game looked lost.
Enter defensive end Michael McCrary.
McCrary somehow managed to get his hands on the ball and deflect it, which allowed safety Robert Blackmon to grab the ball and scurry 61 yards for the go-ahead score.
It was a case of the right play at the right time.
It gave the city a much-needed shot in the arm and started the ball rolling on any number of Seahawks-related projects. 50,794 people showed up for the game against the Vikings the next week—an increase of 15,000 over the Oilers game.
In the next year, Allen would buy the team. Funding for Qwest Field (nee Seahawks Stadium) would be arranged, and in 1999—after nearly a decade of hovering at or below the .500 mark—the Hawks would clinch their second divisional title, starting them on the roll they enjoyed through most of the 2000s.
And it might never have happened had it not been for McCrary's block.