Tonight the Oakland Raiders and Seattle Seahawks will meet each other for each team’s final game of the preseason. Tonight’s game will be played almost entirely by backups, and will mostly be an effort to keep players healthy and to determine what players on the bottom of the depth chart will deserve a spot on the 53-man roster when final cuts are made this weekend. Unlike tonight’s game, however, some Raider-Seahawk matchups in history have had a lot more than roster spots riding on them. The two teams were divisional rivals from 1977 until re-alignment in 2002, and have met 51 times in regular season play, 42 of which were divisional matchups. The Raiders have the edge 28-23 all-time, 24 of those wins coming during the division rivalry era. The two have also met twice in the playoffs, each taking a game.
While the rivalry with the Seahawks – a 1976 expansion team – never reached the same level of animosity or mystique as the rivalries with Denver, Kansas City, or even San Diego, it did lead to a few memorable matchups. Of these, probably none is more memorable for Raider fans – or forgettable for Seahawks fans – as the Monday Night matchup at the Seattle Kingdome on November 30, 1987.
Coming into the game, Chuck Knox’s Seahawks were at 7-3 and needed to win to keep pace with San Diego for the division lead. Tom Flores’ Los Angeles Raiders, on the other hand, were a disappointing 3-7, coming into the game on a stunning seven game losing streak after winning their first three games. The 1987 player strike had turned the league upside down, and inconsistency at the quarterback position led to even more issues for the struggling Raiders. The Seahawks, led by running back Curt Warner, had already beaten the Raiders in LA at the end of October in a 35-13 blowout in which the Raiders had been held to 44 yards rushing on 13 attempts and Raider QB’s Marc Wilson and Rusty Hilger combined for 3 INT’s. A week later, rookie running back Bo Jackson – who had signed with the team after never reporting to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers who had drafted him in 1986 – joined the Raiders after finishing his season as an outfielder for the Kansas City Royals. Bo did not make an instant splash for the struggling Raiders, but the week before had rushed for 98 yards and two TD’s on 13 carries in a loss to the Broncos.
The Seahawks had acquired brash young celebrity linebacker and known steroid user Brian “the Boz” Bosworth in the Supplemental Draft over the offseason and signed him to an unheard of ten year, $11 million contract. Bosworth was known for his pre-game trash talk, and the week leading up to the second Raiders-Seahawks matchup of the year was no different, as Bosworth promised to “contain” Bo Jackson. Both superstar players would have their shot at each other in prime time that Monday Night.
The game started off poorly for Bo and the Raiders, as Jackson lost a fumble early in the first quarter to set up an early Seattle touchdown from Dave Kreig to Daryl Turner that put the Raiders in a 7-0 hole. From then on, it was all Bo and the Raiders.
The Raiders answered back later in the first quarter with a 46 yard touchdown strike to James Lofton from Marc Wilson to tie the game. On their next drive, early in the second quarter, Bo took a pass from Wilson 14 yards for his first score of the day. The next time the Raiders had the Ball, Bo took a sweep left on 3rd and 6 from the 9-yard line when this occurred:
Bo scored the longest rushing touchdown in Raider history, completely outrunning Bosworth and every other Seahawks defender in the process, prompting ABC color commentator Dan Dierdorf to note that “it’s like little kids chasing a grown man.” The Raiders scored on their next two drives of the 2nd quarter, both times on Chris Bahr field goals, extending their lead to 27-7 at the half.
Bo’s next touchdown may have been the most memorable of his career, and certainly one of the most replayed. On the Raiders’ first possession of the half, Bo took off again with a 42 yard carry that put the team in position to score again. On 3rd down and 1 from the 2-yard line, Bo took another pitch to the left behind a Marcus Allen block and met Brian Bosworth at the goalline:
The video of Jackson plowing directly through Bosworth to reach the endzone is one of the most iconic pieces of footage in NFL history, and was defining for the careers of both players. The Raiders would add another Bahr field goal later on their next drive of the quarter, and the Seahawks would finally answer with a 3 yard TD pass from Krieg to tight end (and current Falcons assistant) Mike Tice to close the gap slightly. Neither team would score in the 4th quarter and the Raiders got the 37-14 blowout victory over their division rival. Bo Jackson finished with 221 yards on 18 carries (nearly a 13 yard average) with two scores, as well as his touchdown reception.
While Bo’s performance had been dominant and memorable, the Raider defense had also played one of their best games of the year. Seahawks running back Curt Warner, who had eviscerated the Raiders earlier in the season, was held to a paltry 26 yards on eleven carries. Dave Kreig was sacked four times – including twice by Greg Townsend – and picked off twice. Future Hall of Fame wide receiver Steve Largent was held to two receptions for 25 yards. Raider sQB Marc Wilson also had a solid performance, completing 11 of 18 passes for 159 yards and two scores. Marcus Allen, who had key blocks on both Jackson touchdown runs, also carried the ball 18 times for 76 yards.
The Seahawks would lose again the following week in Pittsburgh, then win two straight before dropping their season finale and finishing 9-6 for the strike-shortened season. They qualified for the playoffs as a Wild Card team and lost in overtime to the Houston Oilers in the first round of the playoffs. The Seahawks would go on to two more winning seasons – including one AFC West title – under coach Chuck Knox but never did better than 9-7 and never won a playoff game. Los Angeles would finish 5-10 in 1987, only winning one more game that year, resulting in the end of two-time Super Bowl winning coach Tom Flores’ run with the Raiders. Coincidentally, Flores would be named GM of the Seahawks in 1990 and eventually replaced Knox as head coach in 1992. The Raiders would return to winning form – and the playoffs – in 1990 under Art Shell.
Jackson would only complete one more full game in the 1987 season, the Raiders final victory against the Bills the following week, in which he rushed for 78 yards. Jackson would play three more seasons in Los Angeles, each year joining the team after his obligation to the Royals was complete. He broke his own record in 1989, recording a 92 yard run against the Cincinnati Bengals. He would gain 950 yards rushing on 173 carries that season. In 1990 he was named to the Pro Bowl after recording nearly 700 yards rushing on 125 carries in only ten games of action that season. His career would end after a freak injury against the Bengals in the 1990 playoffs.
Bosworth, his humiliation at the hands of Bo Jackson notwithstanding, turned in a solid rookie campaign and played well in his second year before a shoulder injury late in the 1988 season. After the season, he retired after a team physical showed that his shoulders were massively deteriorated. He would go on to have a forgettable acting career and remains a mainstay on lists of NFL draft busts and over-hyped prospects. Perhaps the most memorable moment in his brief career is him getting trucked by Bo at the goal line on November 30, 1987.