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Seahawks head to New York to show again they’re kings of Monday night

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Geno Smith throws out a pass during the fourth quarter against Carolina on Sunday, Sept. 24, 2023, at Lumen Field in Seattle.  (Jennifer Buchanan/Seattle Times)
By Bob Condotta Seattle Times

From the first time the Seahawks played on a Monday night they proved more than ready for prime time.

Their first Monday night game, at Atlanta in 1979, turned into one of the more memorable contests of the team’s early years.

The 31-28 win featured a fake punt and a fake field goal for a first down (the latter famously caught by kicker Efren Herrera for 20 yards), compelling announcer Howard Cosell to bellow, “This is the kind of play pro football needs.’’

Since then, the Seahawks have been not only a fixture on Monday night, but also the most successful team in the history of the television franchise.

They are 28-12 all-time on Monday night, a 70% winning percentage that is the best in the NFL – a record it will get a chance to improve on Monday night playing at MetLife Stadium against the Giants. Kickoff is 5:15 p.m. on ESPN.

Pete Carroll only helped perpetuate that prime-time success as the Seahawks are 33-14-1 in prime-time games since he arrived in 2010, also the best in the NFL in that time.

Carroll has insisted one reason for that success is that he’s never made prime-time games out to be bigger than any other.

“I’ve been around Coach Carroll for a long time, and he’s really gotten into our minds that it’s just a game,’’ middle linebacker Bobby Wagner said this week. “And I really believe that. It’s just a game, it’s just a lot more people watching. Growing up, as a kid, you watch Monday Night Football, then it turns to Sunday night, and Thursday night. At the end of the day, it’s just a game.’’

Despite their history of success in such games and a surprising 9-8 season last year, the Seahawks were not considered a prime-time darling this year, given just three games.

That’s only one more than last season, when the Seahawks were generally picked for last in the NFC West after the trade of Russell Wilson – the year before Wilson arrived and the Seahawks truly began their ascent under Carroll.

Aside from Monday’s game against the Giants, the Seahawks’ only other two prime time games this year are scheduled for Thanksgiving night at home against the San Francisco 49ers and the following Thursday at Dallas against the Cowboys.

That’s in contrast to most of the rest of the Carroll era. They had either four or five prime-time games every season from 2013-2021. Of course, the Seahawks could be flexed into an additional prime-time game or two. But for that to happen, they will have to keep winning.

Their lone scheduled Monday nighter this year is at least about as big as it gets, playing at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., not only near the home of the NFL itself (located on Park Avenue in nearby New York) but where the Seahawks won the Super Bowl in 2014.

The Seahawks have never lost at MetLife since it opened in 2010, also beating the Giants there three times (2011, 2013, 2017) and the Jets once (2016). They have not played there since 2017.

Seahawks safety Julian Love had a career-high 14 tackles in a Monday night game for the Giants a year ago against Dallas and said he’s looking forward to a fun atmosphere on his return.

“Those games in New York, the Monday night games, the Sunday night, everyone’s around,’’ Love said. “The lights are bright in that stadium. I’m looking forward to it, it’s always been a fun experience. We’re wearing the all-whites. We’ve got some energy and swagger going down there. Seahawks have been pretty good in MetLife and I’m looking to continue to that.”

The game also marks the season debut for safety Jamal Adams, who played three seasons with the Jets at MetLife Stadium – and as he recalled, two Monday night games.

“They’re exciting,’’ said Adams, who will play in his first game since tearing his quad muscle against Denver on Sept. 12, 2022. “MetLife is a special place. It’s where the stars are born. I’m looking forward to going back out there and being out there. Being on the other side is going to be a little bit weird, but I’m looking forward to it.”

The Seahawks are looking to extend a two-game winning streak as they head into what their bye in Week 5 – the earliest a team can have one this season (byes are all between Weeks 5 and 14 this year).

They got off the mat following the rugged season-opening home loss to the Rams to win at Detroit the following Sunday, 37-31 in overtime, and came home to beat the Panthers relatively easily, 37-27.

Those two wins, plus the Giants’ struggles in a 1-2 start, a beat-up New York offensive line and that star running back Saquon Barkley is being listed as doubtful to play had the Vegas odds shifting in the Seahawks’ favor by the end of the week. The are listed as a 1.5-point favorite.

The Giants are in backs-against-the-wall mode, as after Monday night they will hit the road for two straight games against Miami and Buffalo – neither games they will be favored to win.

Without pulling an upset or two the next few weeks, what had been a highly anticipated season for the Giants following the team’s first-postseason win a year ago since 2011 could be just about over just like that.

“I know they’re hungry and at home, so it’s a big challenge for us,’’ Carroll said Saturday.

But if history proves anything, the Seahawks will be ready when the lights go on.