The Seattle Seahawks are going to the National Football League playoffs with a losing record, the first time that’s happened in a full season.
The New York Giants and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are going home with 10 victories apiece, the first time that’s occurred in almost two decades.
The Seahawks won the National Football Conference West Division by beating the St. Louis Rams 16-6 last night at Qwest Field in Seattle to finish 7-9 for the season. They open the playoffs on Jan. 8 at home against the New Orleans Saints, the defending Super Bowl champions who gained a wild-card berth with an 11-5 record.
“I’m so proud of this team that they hung through a lot of messy games when we weren’t playing great football,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said during a news conference. “We really came together on this championship night and played really good ball.”
The Giants and Buccaneers both finished 10-6 with victories yesterday, falling short of the postseason in tiebreakers to the Green Bay Packers, who beat the Chicago Bears 10-3. The Packers claimed the last of the NFC’s two wild-card berths for non- division winners.
The only time a team with a less-than .500 record made the NFL playoffs was 1982, when a players’ strike shortened the season to nine games. The Cleveland Browns and the Detroit Lions both reached the postseason with 4-5 records.
The last time two teams with 10 wins each failed to reach the postseason was 1991, when the Philadelphia Eagles and San Francisco 49ers each were left out at 10-6.
The Seahawks were routed 41-7 at home by the Giants earlier this season and lost 38-15 at Tampa Bay.
NFL rules give automatic playoff berths in each conference to the four division winners plus the two teams with the best records outside those quartets.
The Packers finished second in the NFC North to the Chicago Bears, while the Giants were second in the NFC East behind the Philadelphia Eagles (10-6).
The Buccaneers came in third in the NFC South behind the Atlanta Falcons (13-3) and the Saints.
The Eagles won their division because they beat the Giants twice. The Seahawks won the NFC West in a tiebreaker over the Rams, who also finished 7-9.
“We had a lot of opportunities this year, and that’s what eats at you,” Giants defensive end Justin Tuck told reporters. “I hate to say this, but in a way, we didn’t deserve to be in the playoffs. We had chances to get there, but we didn’t take advantage.”