The San Francisco 49ers entered Qwest Field on Sept. 26, 2004, with an unfathomable streak: They had not been shutout since Oct. 9, 1977 – an NFL-record streak of 420 regular-season games.
By the time the 49ers had left that afternoon, the Seahawks had done the unthinkable by storming to a 34-0 victory. Goodbye, NFL-record streak. Hello, reality of it all.
“That is what I would say is just a flat (butt)-kicking,” Dennis Erickson sighed after the game.
Erickson was coaching the 49ers then, after spending 1995-98 as coach of the Seahawks. The Everett native was looking at NFL life from both sides now, and the view for Seattle was a lot sunnier as the Seahawks pushed their record to 3-0 by pushing the 49ers to the flatlands of frustration.
As difficult to swallow as the shutout loss was for the 49ers, they also had to deal with totaling just 175 yards of total offense and allowing the Seahawks’ defense to set the table for an offensive smorgasbord. Cornerback Ken Lucas intercepted a Ken Dorsey pass that kissed off the hands of wide receiver Rashaun Woods and returned it 25 yards to set up the Seahawks’ first score – a 35-yard field goal by Josh Brown. Defensive tackle Cedric Woodard then produced the first sack of his five-year career and recovered the ball to set up the Seahawks’ second quarter – a 1-yard run by Shaun Alexander.
Quicker than anyone wonder just what was happening, the rout was on.
Matt Hasselbeck completed 21 of 30 passes for 254 yards and two touchdowns, for a 117.9 passer rating. During the Seahawks’ four touchdown drives, he was 12 of 14 for 172 yards, as Alexander scored on another short run (1 yard) as well as on a short pass (3 yards) and Hasselbeck also passed 1 yard to tight end Itula Mili for a TD.
But this day belonged to the suffocating presence that was the Seahawks defense.
“Anytime the defensive gives us the short end of the field, like they have the first three weeks, it’s a great feeling,” Pro Bowl left guard Steve Hutchinson said after the victory over the 49ers – which followed 21-7 and 10-6 road wins at New Orleans and Tampa to open a season when the Seahawks would win the first of four consecutive NFC West titles.
“That breaks the other team’s back a little bit.”
Broken, and beaten. That was the 49ers.
“When you get the job done on both ends like that, it’s suffocating for the other team,” said defensive end – and former 49er – Chike Okeafor, unable to contain a smile of satisfaction.
The day even included a splash of history for the Seahawks, as former quarterback Dave Krieg was inducted into the team’s Ring of Honor during a halftime ceremony.
As Krieg told the then-Qwest record crowd of 66,709 during his speech, “I’ve been to six different teams, and you are the best fans in the National Football League. And I could just be saying that, but I’m not. I mean it. We went through a lot of struggles, we had some great times, but this is awesome.”
As was the Seahawks’ defense in turning a trick 420 other opponents had attempted without success.