Just before this season started, referee Bill Leavy apologized for the bad calls that conspired to help the Seahawks lose Super Bowl XL.
Little did the Seahawks know that Leavy’s apology would be accompanied by the most unlikely gift in NFL history: the first playoff berth for a losing team.
At 7-9, with the 28th-ranked offense and 27th-ranked defense, the Seahawks surely don’t deserve to be in the playoffs this year. But let’s all just consider it karmic retribution for the tilted Super Bowl and all of the times they have missed the playoffs despite owning winning records or simply had playoff berths stolen from them through poor officiating.
Since 1978, when the league went to a 16-game schedule, the Seahawks are second only to New England for the most winning seasons in which they did not make the playoffs (five).
The Seahawks’ most disappointing miss came in 1986. They were the hottest team in the league in December, after five straight wins had propelled them to a 10-6 record. No one wanted to play them…and no one had to because the Hawks (like the 10-6 Cincinnati Bengals) were edged out by the Chiefs and the New York Jets (also 10-win teams).
That was a fair-and-square postseason block, just like 1978, 1979 and 2001. Despite winning records, they came up a game short in those seasons.
There have been times, however, when the Hawks have been jobbed.
In 1990, the refs blew two calls—despite having instant replay at their disposal—that directly cost the Seahawks an early-season win over the Raiders, and the Seahawks finished 9-7 instead of 10-6 and were aced out by the Houston Oilers (9-7) for the second Wild Card spot in the AFC.
In 1998, with no replay available, the Seahawks lost a game in New York on perhaps the worst ref’s call in NFL history, and that cost them a potential playoff spot (and coach Dennis Erickson his job, but it brought back replay).
And then there was the Super Bowl five years ago, in which the Seahawks had two potential touchdowns taken away, and another questionable score given to Pittsburgh.
The Seahawks were due for one they don’t deserve, so they and their fans certainly are not going to apologize for getting into this postseason.
Consider it payback for the Super Bowl and all of the times they were good enough to make it but didn’t.
Check out eight answers to our preseason questions about the Seahawks.