How apropos that the 10-win Eagles come to town this week — giving the Seahawks their annual defining game at the usual moment, right after Russell Wilson’s birthday.
The Seahawks seem to have a watershed game right around Wilson’s birthday (Nov. 29) every year, and they are 5-0 in games played on or immediately following his big day. They’ll look to make it 6-0 against the juggernaut Eagles.
In his rookie year of 2012, Wilson had his coming-out party in an overtime win in Chicago, where the coaches finally let him loose. That came three days after his 24th birthday. It was the start of a five-game winning streak to end that season that vaulted Wilson’s Hawks into the playoffs. Wilson and the Hawks scored a record 150 points in the three games following that 23-17 win in Chicago.
In 2013, the Seahawks didn’t really need a defining game. But they proved their dominance on Monday night in Week 13, again right after Wilson’s birthday. They were 10-1 heading into their Week 12 bye and then blew out the Saints 34-7 in prime time. They finished 13-3 and won the Super Bowl in equally dominant fashion.
In 2014, they were 6-4 after a controversial loss in Kansas City. They won their last six, and the defining game was a 24-14 win in Philly against Chip Kelly’s 9-3 Eagles — the week after Wilson’s birthday. The Seattle defense was in top form during that six-game streak, holding foes to less than a TD per game as they finished No. 1 in scoring defense for the third straight year.
In 2015, a 39-30 win in Pittsburgh in Week 12, on Wilson’s birthday, was the start of four straight in which Seattle went over 30 points. The Hawks won six of their last seven to rally from a 4-5 start. But they still had to go on the road in the playoffs, where they lucked out vs. Blair Walsh and the Vikings before basically being blown out by a Carolina team that ended up in the Super Bowl.
The defining game last year was at New England in Week 10, but that excellent 31-24 win was a false positive, because the Hawks didn’t turn out to be that team the rest of the way. The Hawks were 7-3-1 heading into a Week 13 home game against Carolina. They blew out the Panthers 40-7 (a little payback for that playoff loss), but then Wilson played one of his worst games in Green Bay, begetting a 38-10 blowout loss, and the Hawks ended up 10-5-1 and were blown out by Atlanta in the second round of the playoffs.
This time, the Hawks are 7-4 as they face perhaps their toughest home test in the Wilson era. If history is any predictor, they will pull off the upset of the red-hot Eagles, making Wilson 6-0 in his “birthday games.”