RENTON, Washington — Playing with a torn pectoral muscle and a small biceps tear in his right arm, Tarvaris Jackson managed to throw for a career-high 323 yards the last time the Seattle Seahawks faced the Cincinnati Bengals.
It's a moment that remains vivid in the minds of the Seahawks organization even four years later as the team travels to face the Bengals for the first time since that afternoon in Seattle.
Jackson, now the Seahawks' backup quarterback, replaced an ineffective Charlie Whitehurst under center in the second quarter just three weeks removed from being injured against the New York Giants.
"I don't think any of us that were there at the time will ever forget how we felt about him and the courage that he showed and the toughness he showed and the resourcefulness to throw a football in the NFL with a torn pec," head coach Pete Carroll said. "...It was a remarkable demonstration of his toughness and will to play for his teammates and all that."
Without any practice time, Jackson came off the bench and helped rejuvenate an offense that had been stuck in park with Whitehurst at the wheel.
"When I threw the ball, every time I felt the strain," Jackson said. "On game day my adrenaline was flowing, so that helped out. It was going to hurt regardless so I just had to play through it."
Jackson said he wanted to start the game but Carroll wanted to try and give him an extra week to recover. But when Seattle scored just six points in their previous five quarters with Whitehurst at quarterback, Carroll's hand was forced.
The Seahawks found themselves in a 10-3 hole against Cincinnati as Jackson returned to the field. Jackson led two scoring drives and closed the gap to 17-12 in the fourth quarter before a punt return touchdown by Brandon Tate broke the game open for the Bengals.
Jackson then went on to start every game the rest of the year for Seattle despite barely being able to practice on a weekly basis.
"Tarvaris has always been amazing to us," left tackle Russell Okung said. "I was a part of that offensive line that used to get him hit a lot. He's a very tough guy, tough as nails."
After trading for Matt Flynn in 2012 and drafting Russell Wilson in the third round, Jackson was traded to Buffalo during training camp. He was released by Buffalo after the season and receivers Doug Baldwin and Sidney Rice went to Carroll to lobby for Jackson to return to Seattle.
"Tarvaris has always been a leader in our locker room," Baldwin said. "He's always been a lead-by-example guy. For him to come back from a devastating injury like that that some guys would actually call it a season, it showed his true character, his true personality about what he was about."
Jackson re-signed with Seattle and has served as Wilson's backup each of the last three seasons. Wilson has started every game over that span and the Seahawks have not needed Jackson to play significant snaps since his return to Seattle. But his play that season while injured is a big reason why the Seahawks have full faith in Jackson if they ever do need to call his number again.
"That's the kind of guy that you want with you," receiver Ricardo Lockette said. "You're going to fight for them and you want guys that are going to fight with you."