“There’s nothing we like more than beating the guys that we love.” — Pete Carroll
As Earl Thomas comes back to Seattle, hoping for some fan love, it will be the biggest reunion/revenge game since Richard Sherman came back last December.
Sherman lost in Seattle but got even when his 49ers won in overtime at home two weeks later.
Everyone knows Thomas, now a Baltimore Raven, carries a big grudge against Pete Carroll for not wanting to re-sign him. Thomas notoriously flipped off his coach as he was carted off the field with a broken leg in Week 4 last season — what turned out to be his final game as a Seahawk.
Thomas downplayed the revenge factor this week, and Carroll said he will “love him anyway.” But Carroll also said he loves beating his former players.
“When we know guys, we like playing against them,” Carroll said. “You’ve got relationships, and it’s fun to see them out there, and it’s fun to go against them. There’s nothing we like more than beating the guys that we love.”
Carroll has been good at it, too. He has gone against 17 players who were key members of the 2013-18 Seahawks, and he is 14-7 against them.
Two notable players he has not faced are Michael Bennett and Paul Richardson, who both left in 2018. But he is 3-0 against Golden Tate and has beaten 12 of the 17 guys on this list.
Here’s a look:
Tate left for Detroit in a big huff in 2014 after the Seahawks paid Percy Harvin. Tate lost the Monday night meeting in 2015 on ex-holdout Kam Chancellor’s forced fumble at the goal line (with a controversial bat of the ball out of the end zone by K.J. Wright). Tate and the Lions also got blown out in the 2016 playoffs, 26-6, and lost 28-14 in 2018. Tate averaged four catches for 35 yards in those three contests.
Breno Giacomini didn’t face the Hawks with the Jets but was part of that amazing duel between Houston’s Deshaun Watson and Russell Wilson in 2017, as the Hawks beat Houston 41-38. Giacomini is out of the league now.
Brandon Browner left amid an NFL suspension in 2014 and joined the Patriots. He then forced the key interception to beat Carroll, Wilson and the Hawks in Super Bowl XLIX. He came back to Seattle camp in 2016 but did not make the roster — and then his life spiraled as he was sentenced to eight years in prison in 2018 for attempted murder of his girlfriend.
Clinton McDonald helped the Seahawks win Super Bowl XLVIII and earned himself a nice deal from Tampa Bay in the process. He helped the Bucs dominate Wilson & Co. in a 14-5 win in 2016.
Max Unger was traded to the Saints for Jimmy Graham in 2015, and Unger helped New Orleans beat the Hawks 25-20 in Week 8, 2016. He retired after 2018 so did not get to add another W against Carroll when the Hawks self-destructed against the Saints earlier this year.
Byron Maxwell earned a mammoth contract from the Eagles in 2015, but he didn’t last long there and ended up facing the Seahawks in the 2016 season opener with Miami, which lost 12-10. Miami cut Maxwell in 2017 and he returned to play the final seven games of the season with his original Seahawks.
James Carpenter left for a big contract with the Jets in 2015, joining Giacomini. While Giacomini didn’t play in the 27-17 loss to Seattle in Week 4 of 2016, Carpenter did. He signed another nice deal with Atlanta this year and will see the Hawks again in Week 8.
Malcolm Smith, the Super Bowl XLVIII MVP, left for Oakland in 2015 and then moved across the bay to San Francisco in 2017. He was injured in 2017 but, along with Sherman, faced the Seahawks twice in 2018 and split thanks to an overtime home win.
Russell Okung & Brandon Mebane, playing together for the Chargers, beat the Hawks 25-17 last season. Okung signed with Denver on a prove-it deal in 2016 and joined the Chargers on a long-term contract in 2017. He has been out this season after suffering a pulmonary embolism, but he says he is ready to return now. Good news for Carroll’s first pick with the Seahawks. Mebane, who predated Carroll in Seattle by three years, left for San Diego/L.A. in 2016 and re-signed with them this year after tragically losing his infant daughter in January.
Ironic that Marshawn Lynch’s last game came against the Seahawks. He ran for 45 yards in a 27-3 loss in London in Week 6 last season. He suffered a groin injury and never played another down for the Raiders, forced back into retirement two years after the Hawks had traded him to Oakland after a one-year hiatus.
J.R. Sweezy joined McDonald in Tampa in 2016, but he did not play in Tampa’s 14-5 win vs. Seattle. He came back to Seattle in 2018 before moving on to Arizona this year. He lost 27-10 with the Cardinals in Week 4 and will see Carroll’s club again in Week 16.
Bruce Irvin, Seattle’s 2012 first-round pick, signed with Oakland in 2016 and lost to Carroll’s club with Lynch in that same London game. Irvin is in Carolina now and is scheduled to face the Hawks again in Week 15.
Graham signed with Green Bay in 2018 and came back to Seattle to lose 27-24 in Week 11. Maybe the Hawks will see him again in the playoffs this season.
Luke Willson went to Detroit in 2018 and lost to the Hawks 28-14 in Week 8, catching three passes for 21 yards. DeShawn Shead was on that team, too, so Carroll got two of his guys with one blow. Then he brought both back this year, although Shead did not make the team and Willson just arrived a few weeks ago.