From 2003-07, the Seahawks were a postseason fixture, as they won four consecutive NFC West titles and advanced to the playoffs five times. And Walter Jones was a bigger-than-life reason for that run of success.
A nine-time Pro Bowl selection, Jones played the pivotal left tackle position as well as anyone in the history of the league and much better than most. That’s why he is expected to be elected to the Pro Football of Hall of Fame next month when the selection committee convinces in Manhattan on the eve of Super Bowl XLVIII.
But first things first, for Jones and his former team. The Seahawks are hosting the New Orleans Saints in a divisional playoff game at CenturyLink Field on Saturday. The only other time the Seahawks have hosted a divisional-round game was in 2005, when they advanced to the Super Bowl and Jones was considered the best player in the game – not just the best left tackle in the game.
Asked Thursday for his favorite playoff moment, Jones had 10 games from which to choose – starting with the 1999 AFC wild-card game against the Miami Dolphins in the last game ever played in the Kingdome; and including nine games from 2003-07, including home games against the Washington Redskins and Carolina Panthers in 2005.
Jones started with the obvious, but then changed directions like Shaun Alexander ducking behind one of the countless blocks Jones threw for him.
“I think everybody would pick the ’05 season, that was a special season,” Jones said. “I could say (winning) the NFC Championship game. But I think the special one that got us into that spot was the divisional round where we played Washington.”
The Seahawks won that game 20-10, despite Alexander, the league MVP and rushing champion, going out in the first quarter with a concussion.
“Coach (Mike Holmgren) put the game in Matt Hasselbeck’s hands, so Matt went out there and played a great game to get us in that position to get to the NFC Championship game,” Jones said of Hasselbeck completing 16 of 26 passes for 215 yards and accounting for both touchdowns by passing for one and running for another.
“So I would say that was the game that kind of like made the statement that we could win in the playoffs.”
And that game was the Seahawks’ first postseason win since 1984, after they lost their playoff openers in 1987, 1988, 1999, 2003 and 2004.