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Updated Saturday, January 5, 2013 at 01:17 AM

Seahawks' road playoff streak has reached eight games, 29 years

By Danny O'Neil
Seattle Times staff reporter

The Seahawks left for Washington, D.C., on Friday afternoon, their route to the airport lined by fans. Estimated time of arrival: 11 p.m. Eastern, giving the Seahawks a full day's head start on the team's last road playoff victory.

That rare victory was on Dec. 31, 1983, when a flight delay stalled the Seahawks' trip to Miami to the point the team didn't arrive at its hotel until after midnight. Half a day later, the Seahawks took the field as a road-weary underdog and upset the Dolphins, scoring 10 points in a 22-second span in the fourth quarter for a 27-20 victory in the franchise's first road playoff game.

Twenty-nine years later, it remains the only time the Seahawks have won on the road in the postseason.

"It's funny, when you said those words, it made a chill go down my spine," said Dr. Dan Doornink, a Seahawks running back who's now a physician in Yakima. "I can't believe there hasn't been one since."

Not one. Just eight consecutive road losses, a streak that spans five Seahawks coaches and two uniform changes and is one loss from matching Detroit's NFL record.

Seattle has lost on the road to a Raiders team that has since moved from Los Angeles and to an Oilers team that is now known as the Titans. The Seahawks have lost in historic sites like Green Bay's Lambeau Field (twice) and in a stadium that is now obsolete (Houston's Astrodome).

Seattle has been blown out in a blizzard in Green Bay and lost three games in overtime during this streak that began so long ago that coach Pete Carroll was puzzled at how it could be pertinent.

"Wasn't that when Ronald Reagan was president?" Carroll said Friday.

Why, yes, in fact. It was. His vice president and his vice president's son have both served in that office since.

"Next question," Carroll said jokingly. "I mean really, come on now. Let's see, how old was Earl?

Safety Earl Thomas? Oh, he wouldn't be born for another five years. In fact, 44 of the 53 players on Seattle's roster weren't alive when the Seahawks last won on the road in the playoffs.

"None of these guys even have a clue," Carroll said. "They don't know who Ronald Reagan is, so that should shed some light on how much that factors in."

Which is to say the streak matters about as much as the fact that Seattle has ended each of Washington's past two playoff runs.

Washington is hosting a playoff game for the first time in 12 years, and one thing is for sure: Seattle will arrive earlier for this road playoff game than it did in 1983.

The team's plane simply would not take off in 1983. Not without a specific alert sensor that needed to be replaced, and years later, Knox couldn't be sure Dolphins coach Don Shula didn't have a little something to do with it.

So the Seahawks sat at the airport and waited. And waited. And finally got hotel rooms in Seattle, using a ballroom for a walk-through. The team didn't arrive at its hotel in Miami until about 3 a.m., which gave the Seahawks less than half a day before kickoff. Think about that the next time you wonder how much an impediment travel is.

"As Chuck would say, we played the hand we were dealt," said Jacob Green, the Seahawks defensive end who is Red Bryant's father-in-law.

The Dolphins were coming off a Super Bowl appearance, had gone 12-4 during the season and allowed a league-low 15.6 points that season. They were favored over Seattle by more than a touchdown.

"Nobody gave us a cut dog's chance of winning as coach Knox would say," running back Curt Warner said in a telephone interview this week.

The Dolphins led 13-7, but what happened in that second half remains one of the most exciting comebacks in Seahawks history. Seattle scored 10 points in the final two minutes of the game, recovering fumbles on back-to-back kickoffs.

"Hindsight is always 20-20," Warner said. "But when you get to that playoff mindset, it changes not only on the field, but it also changes from a home-field advantage perspective.

"Everything intensifies. Everything gets louder and gets crazier. The intensity level is at a higher level. It makes it a little tougher to go on the road and win."

The Seahawks lost on the road to the Los Angeles Raiders the next week in the AFC Championship Game and haven't won a postseason game on the road since.

"I'm assuming at some point they're going to win," Warner said.

The Seahawks headed to Washington, D.C., with the hope that some point will be Sunday.

Danny O'Neil: 206-464-2364 or doneil@seattletimes.com.

On Twitter @dannyoneil

Road woe-rriors
The Seahawks haven't won a road playoff game since the very first one they played:
Date Opponent Score Round
Dec. 31, 1983 at Miami W, 27-20 Divisional playoff
Jan. 8, 1984 at L.A. Raiders L, 30-14 AFC Championship
Dec. 29, 1984 at Miami L, 31-10 Divisional playoff
Jan. 3, 1988 at Houston L, 23-20 (OT) Wild-card playoff
Dec. 31, 1988 at Cincinnati L, 21-13 Wild-card playoff
Jan. 4, 2004 at Green Bay L, 33-27 (OT) Wild-card playoff
Jan. 14, 2007 at Chicago L, 27-24 (OT) Divisional playoff
Jan. 12, 2008 at Green Bay L, 42-20 Divisional playoff
Jan. 16, 2011 at Chicago L, 35-24 Divisional playoff
NFL playoffs

Seattle @ Washington, 1:30 p.m. Sunday, Ch. 13.


MATT MCVAY / THE SEATTLE TIMES, 1983
Seahawks coach Chuck Knox gets a ride off the field after his Seahawks rallied late to upset the Dolphins in Miami.




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