KIRKLAND – We all remember the Sharpie.
The Boz getting run over. The night that Efren Herrera caught a pass.
And who could forget the thunderous meltdown against the Dallas Cowboys that will quietly celebrate its one-year anniversary on Tuesday?
Monday nights have left their share of memories on the city of Seattle over the years, and the Seahawks hope to add some good ones to the list tomorrow.
While most of the NFC tries to play catch-up today, the team with the best record in the conference will save its prime-time show for Monday night, against the Philadelphia Eagles. The Seahawks (9-2) are riding a seven-game winning streak, but they’ve lost the past three times they’ve played on Monday Night Football.
“It’s a big game for us,” quarterback Matt Hasselbeck said of playing on Monday Night Football. “Other teams are on Monday Night Football a little bit more and have a little more experience doing it, so I think it’s going to be important for us to stay focused and not get too distracted.”
For years, the rare MNF appearance represented a time for the Seahawks to shine. After wins in five consecutive appearances, Seattle had an all-time record of 12-5 through the end of the 1999 season. That ranked among the league’s best MNF marks.
But lately things haven’t been so rosy. The past three Seahawks appearances have been memorable for far different reasons.
In 2000, a questionable call involving a pass that bounced off of tight end Christian Fauria’s foot played a big part in Seattle’s 24-17 loss to Kansas City. Two years later, a 28-21 loss to San Francisco became legendary when 49ers receiver Terrell Owens used a Sharpie pen as part of his post-touchdown celebration.
Then there was the 43-39 loss to Dallas on Dec. 6, 2004, which saw a 10-point Seattle lead disappear in the final 1:45 of the game.
While those performances might have been washed away by time had they been played on Sunday afternoons, the spectacle of MNF adds drama to every moment.
“The world is watching: every team in the league, every owner, every fan,” Seahawks linebacker Kevin Bentley said. “That’s what they see. They don’t see every game Sundays because there are so many games. If you do something bad, the whole world knows it, too. So you always want to put your best foot forward.”
Many legends have been born on Monday night. The all-too-brief career of former Los Angeles Raiders running back Bo Jackson peaked with a 1987 MNF performance that saw him rush for 221 yards and three touchdowns against the Seahawks.
That game also left an unforgettable image of another 1980s sports icon, as one of Jackson’s three touchdowns saw him run through overhyped Seahawks linebacker Brian “The Boz” Bosworth.
What happens on Monday nights rarely stays on Monday nights. It gets played over and over and over and over.
Remember that pre-game fight between Philadelphia’s Jeremiah Trotter and Atlanta’s Kevin Mathis that got replayed so many times? That’s right: Monday Night Football.
“It was one of those games where we were sitting around all day and (it was) the season opener, so you’re ready to get out there,” Eagles defensive end Jevon Kearse said last week. “They can’t keep us in the hotel all day long for the opener, especially against a team like that. By the time we got out there, we had been waiting for too long, so they were ready to get it on.”
The Monday night spotlight also brings out the best in some. Players like Jerry Rice, Emmitt Smith and Marcus Allen have had plenty of Sunday highlights over their careers, yet their Monday night performances seem to be the images fans remember most.
Last year, while playing for the Seahawks, Rice turned in what would be his final MNF performance in unforgettable fashion. His eight catches and 145 receiving yards marked season highs. They also capped an MNF career that saw him catch 254 passes for 4,029 yards and 34 touchdowns in 45 appearances.
“I think the biggest game is the Super Bowl,” Rice said before last December’s game against the Cowboys, “but compared to that, Monday Night Football is next.”
Some teams step under the MNF spotlight more than others. The Eagles, for example, have played on Mondays 11 times since the start of the 2002 season. The Seahawks, meanwhile, have played just 10 MNF games since 1986.
Tomorrow night, the Seahawks will complete their first back-to-back appearance on MNF since the 1989-90 seasons. And they hope this one will be remembered for the good things that happen.
“It’s a special game,” Seahawks offensive lineman Steve Hutchinson said. “It’s the only game on, obviously. All the guys in the league are watching. All your friends back home are watching.
“It’s kind of the only thing on (television). That makes it a little bit more special.”