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Groz’s Week 16 Seahawks Memory: Jon Kitna, Mike Holmgren send Seattle to playoffs in ’99

Jon Kitna and Mike Holmgren took the Seahawks to the playoffs. (Getty - Elsa Hasch/Allsport)

There was a lot of excitement in Seattle when Seahawks owner Paul Allen hired Mike Holmgren to coach his football team for the 1999 season.

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Holmgren was at the top of his profession and a hero in Green Bay, where he became the first coach to lead the Packers to the Super Bowl since the immortal Vince Lombardi. The Seahawks, meanwhile, were approaching their 25th season and had only been to one conference title game in their history, so the challenge was immense.

There were some pieces in Seattle in 1999, though, and as the Seahawks headed into Week 16 they had a chance to do something they hadn’t done in a decade – finish over .500. On top of that, a win would virtually assure them of a playoff spot in Holmgren’s first season.

It was a tough battle, as well. The 8-6 Hawks would meet the 9-5 Kansas City Chiefs, and star running back Ricky Watters was hurt.

The defense picked off Chiefs quarterback Elvis Grbac three times – even though the Chiefs entered the game with a massive plus-23 turnover differential – and Seattle’s Jon Kitna had a couple of touchdown passes as the Hawks clinched their winning season with a 23-14 victory (watch video highlights here).

It was the Seahawks’ 100th and last win in the Kingdome, which was demolished a few months later, but they did play there one more time two weeks later in a disappointing playoff loss to Miami.

The Holmgren era had begun, though, and the Seahawks’ first Super Bowl was just six years away.

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More Seahawks memories from Groz

Week 15 in 1988 was Steve Largent’s greatest hit
A new franchise QB emerges in Week 14 win in 1984
An emotional OT win in Week 13 1992 — for Pete’s sake
Bo bulldozes The Boz in Week 12, 1987
Thomas Rawls picks up where Beast Mode left off in Week 11, 2015
Goal-line retribution in Week 10 of 2016 against New England
The franchise changed direction in Week 9 of Pete Carroll’s third year
Holmgren’s blowout Green Bay return in Week 8, 1999
Slaying the 1986 Super Bowl champion Giants in Week 7
Unlikely hero gets 2005 Super Bowl run going in Week 5, 2005
Super Bowl championship team shows it’s for real in Week 4, 2013
Curt Warner establishes ‘Ground Chuck’ in Week 3, 1983