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Groz’s Week 17 Seahawks Memory: The best 7-9 finish in NFL history

Backup QB Charlie Whitehurst led Pete Carroll's Seahawks in an NFC West-clinching win. (Getty)

Jan. 11, 2010 is a very special date in Seahawks history. It’s the date when a college coach from USC was hired as Seattle’s head coach, ushering in the most successful era in Seahawks history.

What change made Ken Norton Jr.’s Seahawks defense dominant?

Before his successful run at USC, Pete Carroll had been fired by the New England Patriots and replaced by Bill Belichick in 2000, so he knew what he needed to do to win in his return to the NFL. From the moment he arrived as the Seahawks coach, he and his hand-picked general manager John Schneider got to work making an unprecedented 284 roster moves in his first year.

The Seahawks lurched through the 2010 season and managed to stay in the race for the NFC West for two main reasons. One, the division was lousy. And two, he hung on to veteran quarterback Matt Hasselbeck. Come Week 17, the Hawks were 6-9 but inexplicably had a chance to win the division if they could beat the 7-8 St. Louis Rams and their rookie QB Sam Bradford.

The good news was the game was in Seattle. The bad was that Hasselbeck was hurt and unable to play, meaning the Seahawks had to turn to backup QB Charlie Whitehurst, known as “Clipboard Jesus” because of his long hair and the fact that he rarely played. For this reason, the Rams were slight favorites.

Whitehurst managed a touchdown pass to Mike Williams while Olindo Mare kicked three field goals, and a usually porous Seahawks defense stifled the Rams all day to lead the way in a 16-6 win. It clinched the division championship at 7-9, making Seattle the first losing team ever to make the NFL playoffs.

Seahawks beat Rams in January 2011: Watch highlights | Box score

Seattle’s reward was another home game, this time against the defending Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints – a game we will remember next week in this spot.

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More Seahawks memories from Groz

Jon Kitna, Mike Holmgren send Seattle to playoffs in Week 16 of 1999
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