Hawks, Pack resume one of NFL’s best rivalries

Seahawks at Packers helmetsIf you liked the drama of Seattle’s past two games, you will love it when the Seahawks and Packers resume a series that has been one of the NFL’s best non-division rivalries for two decades.

This will be their 16th meeting since 1999, the most for each franchise against a non-division foe. It’s their fourth playoff meeting — also making them each other’s most common postseason foe in those 21 seasons.

It’s the sixth straight year they will have played and will be the eighth game between the franchises since Russell Wilson became Seattle’s QB in 2012. The only non-NFC West team Wilson has played more is Carolina (nine games). The Hawks will surpass the 49ers as the Packers’ most common non-division foe during that stretch (though Green Bay might end up playing the Niners next, if both advance to the NFC title game).

The Seahawks and Packers have been intertwined just as much off the field over the past two decades.

In 1999, Mike Holmgren ended a successful seven-year run with the Packers to run the entire show in Seattle. Seattle’s 27-7 win that year was the first of six meetings between Holmgren and his former quarterback Brett Favre’s Packers over nine seasons — thanks to the Seahawks being shifted back to the NFC in 2002.

In the meantime, players, coaches and front-office execs moved freely between the teams.

In 2000, offensive coordinator Mike Sherman, who had come to Seattle with Holmgren, went back to Green Bay to coach the Packers. He went 3-0 against Holmgren in his five seasons as coach.

In 2001, Holmgren acquired his old backup quarterback in Green Bay, Matt Hasselbeck, who became Holmgren’s QB for five reunion meetings with their former team, including two playoff games.

The most infamous was the wild-card game in January 2004, when Hasselbeck dueled with Favre to a 27-27 tie at the end of regulation. The Seahawks won the overtime coin toss, and Hasselbeck had some fun with his former Packers teammates, saying, “We want the ball, and we’re gonna score!” As it turned out, the Packers picked off a pass on Seattle’s second possession and returned it for a touchdown to knock the Seahawks out of the playoffs.

In 2005, Holmgren’s right-hand exec, vice president Ted Thompson, went back to Green Bay to run the Packers. He missed out on the Seahawks’ Super Bowl run that season, but he was already laying the groundwork for his own Super Bowl title.

He drafted Aaron Rodgers in 2005 and replaced Sherman with Mike McCarthy the next year. After a messy divorce from Favre in 2008, the Packers won the Super Bowl with Rodgers at QB in 2010. (They beat the Steelers, who had beaten Holmgren’s Hawks in Super Bowl XL.)

Meanwhile, just as Thompson had jumped Seattle’s ship before its Super season, John Schneider left Green Bay in 2010 to join Pete Carroll in Seattle, where Schneider had worked in 2000 under Holmgren and Thompson.

Schneider and Carroll’s first year in Seattle was Hasselbeck’s last, and Schneider and Carroll brought another former Packers backup QB, Matt Flynn, to Seattle in 2012. They also brought another QB from Wisconsin that year, and Wilson promptly beat out Flynn for the starting gig, then beat the Packers in the infamous “Fail Mary” game early that season on his way to leading Seattle to the playoffs as a rookie and a Super Bowl title as an NFL sophomore.

The Hawks continued to own the Packers, beating them twice in 2014 — including the against-all-odds comeback in the NFC title game. But the Seahawks had lost three straight to the Packers (all in Green Bay) until winning in Seattle last season, in Jimmy Graham’s return after leaving the Hawks to join the Packers.

And now here we are again: Wilson returning to Wisconsin for a fourth time to face Rodgers & Co.

The home team has won every game in this series during Wilson’s career, so the Seattle QB and his team have some big, bad history to overcome in the latest chapter of this storied rivalry.

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