RENTON, Wash. -- Throughout a 38-year history that has featured many more downs than ups, there has been one constant for the Seattle Seahawks: "Monday Night Football."
The Seahawks will play their 28th Monday night game next week when they host the New Orleans Saints at CenturyLink Field.
The Seahawks (10-1) not only own the NFL's best record this season, they carry the best Monday night mark in NFL history -- 19-8 (a .704 winning percentage), including a 14-5 mark at home.
The Seahawks have had Monday night magic from their very first appearance, a 31-28 win at Atlanta on Oct. 29, 1979. That game was memorable because of a fake field goal in which quarterback/holder Jim Zorn threw to kicker Efren Herrera for a 20-yard gain to set up a touchdown. The play had announcer Howard Cosell screaming, for once, in delight.
"I want to tell you, folks, this is the kind of play pro football needs," he wailed as the unlikely play concluded. "Not parity, but enterprise, inventiveness. (Seattle coach) Jack Patera is giving the nation a lesson in creative football."
Sherman Smith, then a running back for the Seahawks who caught a touchdown pass that night, says that while playing on Monday night may not be as special as it used to be, it still carries a unique atmosphere.
"We now have Sunday night games and Thursday night, but Monday night is totally different--totally," said Smith, now the Seahawks' running-backs coach. "I don't know if guys raise it up a notch, if that's really possible. But you know you are the only game being played, and guys want to play well."
And play well, the Seahawks usually do. From Golden Tate's disputed "Fail Mary" touchdown catch last year against the Packers to Shaun Alexander's snowy night in 2006 (also against Green Bay), when the Monday night lights go on, Seattle typically shines.
Even when the Seahawks have lost on Monday night, it has been memorable: recall Bo Jackson's run to Tacoma in a Raiders' win in 1987?
Here are the top 10 "Monday Night Football" games for the Seahawks:
1) Sept. 24, 2012: Seahawks 14, Green Bay 12 -- Has there been a more widely discussed play in Seahawks history than Golden Tate's touch-ception to beat the Packers a year ago? The play overshadowed Chris Clemons' four sacks, which tied a team record.
2) Oct. 6, 1986: Seahawks 33, San Diego 7 -- Steve Largent couldn't have picked a bigger showcase to set what might have been the most celebrated of his many receiving records: catching a pass in his 128th consecutive game.
3) Nov. 27, 2006: Seahawks 34, Green Bay 24 -- Of course the first home snow game in Seattle history came on a Monday night. Shaun Alexander glided through the flakes for 201 yards on 40 carries.
4) Nov. 30, 1992: Seahawks 16, Denver 13 -- Seattle had one highlight in its worst season ever (going 2-14), beating the Broncos in overtime on a night the team inducted longtime broadcaster Pete Gross into the Ring of Honor. Gross, in the final stages of cancer, gave one last "Touchdown, Seahawks!" call during a halftime ceremony. Gross, awarded the game ball afterward, died two days later.
5) Nov. 12, 1984: Seahawks 17, L.A. Raiders 14 -- A 12-4 Seattle season was punctuated by a win over the defending Super Bowl champs thanks to Joe Nash's block of the Raiders' field-goal attempt with 4:18 left.
6) Nov. 28, 1988: Seahawks 35, L.A. Raiders 27 -- Seattle has played the Raiders on MNF more often than they have any other team -- six. Dave Krieg tied the team record with five touchdown passes, and Seattle held on to win a game that proved pivotal in the Seahawks winning their first AFC West title.
7) Dec. 8, 1986: Seahawks 37, L.A. Raiders 0 -- Maybe Seattle's most dominant Monday night game, as the Seahawks outgained the Raiders 407-138 and set a team record with 11 sacks.
8) Oct. 29, 1979: Seahawks 31, Atlanta 28 -- The Seahawks fell behind 14-0 in their first MNF appearance before rallying to win despite losing four fumbles.
9) Dec. 5, 2005: Seahawks 42, Philadelphia 0 -- A Seattle team on its way to the Super Bowl blew out the Eagles despite a final yardage edge of just 194-190. Seattle boasted a 6-0 edge in turnovers -- three returned for touchdowns.
10) Nov. 1, 1999: Seahawks 27, Green Bay 7 -- The return of Mike Holmgren to Green Bay in his first year as Seattle's coach was a natural pick for Monday night. The Seahawks forced seven turnovers, six from Brett Favre (four interceptions and two fumbles).
By BOB CONDOTTA
The Seattle Times