When Sebastian Janikowski missed the extra point following Bobby Wagner’s interception return for a touchdown, it had no bearing on the outcome of a game the Seahawks had been in control of throughout the afternoon. And when Seattle’s defense stopped the 49ers on their final drive, that too was pretty meaningless in the grand scheme of things.
But those two moments, along with another miss from Janikowski earlier in the game, as well as a failed two-point conversion by the 49ers, all added up to produce a final score of 43-16. That score is significant—OK, it’s not really significant—because it was the first 43-16 game in NFL history.
Had Janikowski made one or both of his two missed extra points, it wouldn’t have been a unique score—44-16 has happened twice already, and 45-16 has happened three times. Or if the 49ers had converted their 2-point conversion, 43-18 has happened once before. And 43-17 has happened three times, so an extra point by the 49ers on their last touchdown also would have been a repeat score. A 49ers field goal on that last drive, making it 43-19, also would have made for a repeat score.
We could keep going, but the point is that under numerous scenarios, one slightly different outcome on any given drive or play would have kept the Seahawks from extending one of the strangest streaks in football. In every season under Pete Carroll, the Seahawks have had one game end in a score that had never previously happened in the NFL, and that has not been repeated since. Not only that, the Seahawks have won all nine of those games, most notably a 43-8 victory over the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII.
- 2010—Seahawks 36, Cardinals 18
- 2011—Seahawks 36, Giants 25
- 2012—Seahawks 58, Cardinals 0
- 2013—Seahawks 43, Broncos 8 (Super Bowl XLVIII)
- 2014—Seahawks 36, Packers 16
- 2015—Seahawks 39, Steelers 30
- 2016—Seahawks 37, 49ers 18
- 2017—Seahawks 46, Colts 18
- 2018—Seahawks 43, 49ers 16
“Did we get one? Awesome,” Carroll said after the game. “That’s ridiculous. I don’t know how that happens. I’m thrilled that that happened again, for no reason. I have no reason. What was the score, was it 43-16? That’s never happened in football before?"
Carroll then joked that they played for the unique score, saying, “It’s just something we’ve been working on in the offseason. Did you really think Seabass tried to kick the ball and make it with that last one? If you look back, he kicked it right-footed.”
In recent years, unique scores have been given a name, scorigami, a term coined by SB Nation Labs creative director Jon Bois, who has become something of an expert on this odd field (see the video below to really go down the scorigami rabbit hole).
“If a game ends 28-10, you don’t bat an eye,” Bois said last year after the Seahawks continued their streak. “But if it’s 29-10, you’re like, ‘Man, what happened here?’ All it takes is that one extra point to wonder what kind of sordid developments brought this into being. A safety? Did they go for two? Maybe even both? You can spend a couple minutes dwelling on four digits and a hyphen. I love that.”
Oddly enough, 43-16 is unique to the NFL, but not to Carroll. As was noted by Seattle Times reporter/human sports encyclopedia Bob Condotta, Carroll’s USC Trojans beat WSU by that same score in 2003.