JACKSONVILLE – The Jaguars are in Seattle this weekend for a Halloween game against the Seahawks. It fits, because their previous three visits to the Pacific Northwest can be summed up in a single word…
The Jaguars took the field at Husky Stadium in 2001, and the franchise's original cast of characters was beginning to fade. Left tackle Tony Boselli would play for the Jaguars for the final time that Sunday, running back Fred Taylor was out for the season and guys we had come to know in teal were heading towards free agency or outright release because of a looming salary-cap implosion.
Still, there was hope for a win for quarterback Mark Brunell on the field where he led the Washington Huskies to a Pac-10 Championship and a trip to the Rose Bowl ten years earlier.
The 24-15 final score in favor of the Seahawks that afternoon doesn't sound like a horrible defeat, and the Jaguars competed like a team with a championship heart. But it was clear the Jaguars were in trouble.
Second-year running back Shaun Alexander pummeled the Jaguars' run defense and looked more like the star he would become than the disappointment he had been since being the Seahawks' first-round pick in 2000. Alexander averaged 5.7 yards per attempt that day, and the Seahawks did a good bit of the damage running right at future Pro Bowl defensive tackle Marcus Stroud.
It was an ugly performance on both sides of the ball for the Jaguars, as it became abundantly clear that without Boselli and Taylor it didn't matter if wide receivers Jimmy Smith and Keenan McCardell remained; the offense was too one-dimensional and looked nothing like the team the blitzed through defenses through the late 1990s.
Jack Del Rio roamed the Jaguars' sidelines as head coach when they next appeared in Seattle in 2009. Hope was on the flight with them after back-to-back wins in Houston and against Tennessee evened their record at 2-2.
Hope didn't help. Midway through the second quarter, quarterback Matt Hasselbeck found wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh for a beautiful 34-yard touchdown strike. Then it was wide receiver Nate Burleson's turn with a 44-yard reception on a pass that dropped into his hands over the outstretched arms of cornerback Rashean Mathis and opened the lead to 20-0 at the half.
The third quarter wasn't any different, with Hasselback throwing a 13-yard touchdown to Houshmandzadeh and a five-yarder to Burleson – and the rout was on, 34-0.
Nothing worked for the Jaguars that day. Running back Maurice Jones-Drew only carried the ball 12 times, quarterback David Garrard was sacked four times and fumbled on the last of those in the fourth quarter. Defensive end Nick Reed returned the fumble 79 yards for a touchdown and a final score of 41-0.
Gus Bradley was the defensive coordinator when the Seahawks shut out the Jaguars in 2009. He was the Jaguars' rookie head coach when they returned to Seattle in 2013.
Jacksonville was 0-2 in back-to-back losses to Kansas City and Oakland and had just one touchdown to in those two games. Seattle was at its strongest point in nearly a decade – and under head coach Pete Carroll, loaded for a Super Bowl run.
There were hugs all around before the game for Bradley, who was beloved by the uber talented Seahawks for his contributions to their success. It was hard not to notice their affection for their former coach, but at times it seemed as if they wanted to console him for what they were about to do to his new team.
Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson threw four touchdown passes and was out of the game with a 31-0 lead midway through the fourth quarter. Running back Marshawn Lynch only carried 17 times but led a Seattle team that ran for 156 yards. The Seahawks defense pressured quarterback Chad Henne, sacking him three times and forcing him to throw into the teeth of the Legion of Boom – who picked him off twice.
The final score was much better than the 2009 trip, but 45-17 made the third return flight to Jacksonville seem just as long as the previous two.
The Jaguars have scored just 32 points in three trips to Seattle, with only 12 when the game was in doubt. They were outscored 72-0 in consecutive trips in 2009 and 2013 before putting up a single point.
Improvement is the hallmark for the 2021 Jaguars, and perhaps we'll see a team compete this week like the Jaguars haven't in Seattle in 20 years.