Friday 20 October 2017 / 05:06 AM

Road to the Super Bowl: Seattle Seahawks

Prior to 2010, Pete Carroll was loathed by the football faithful of Washington. As the head coach of the USC (University of Spoiled Children) Trojans, he dominated the Pac-10 conference and the NCAA in general. There wasn’t any love lost between him and the fans who supported the Huskies or Cougars.

But when Paul Allen, the owner of the Seahawks, brought in Carroll to rebuild the franchise, Hawks fans quickly tossed aside their anti-Trojan sentiments and embraced Coach Pete’s quirky and energetic style.

Pete was perfect for Seattle, a funky city with its own way of doing things, because he was unconventional, fun, and didn’t give a rat’s ass if everyone else in the NFL thought he was nuts. Which, incidentally, he is.

Followed by the hiring of Carroll came the addition of new general manager, John Schneider, who came over from the Packers, and ever since, the two men have been peas in a pod.

They share the common strategy of finding special players and then molding the system around them, instead of working the other way around. They’ve also jettisoned the old-school Hard Knox style of coaching in favor of a music-filled buddy-buddy environment that most NFL pundits swore would never work.

Carroll and Schneider made waves in their first season by making more roster moves than any other team in NFL history as they attempted to clean up the mess left by Tim Ruskell. It was an up-and-down season that saw Seattle win the NFC West with a (7-9) record, making them the first team with a losing record to make the playoffs.

This was all several years ago now, but if we credit the signing of Peyton Manning as the first step in Denver’s journey to the Super Bowl, then it only makes sense to point at Pete Carroll when looking for Seattle’s starting block.

Like them or hate them, Carroll and Schneider are the masterminds that built the Seattle Seahawks.

The arrival of their Golden Boy.

Boasting the number one defense in the league is great, but you’ve still got to have a talented quarterback if you want a legitimate shot at taking home the Lombardi Trophy. After the departure of Matt Hasselbeck, there were three failed free agency attempts with Tarvaris Jackson, Charlie Whitehurst, and Matt Flynn.


The Seahawks were competitive, but still lacked the X factor that they’d need to get to the next level.

It wasn’t until the 2012 draft that Carroll found his man, Russell Wilson, in the third round of the draft out of Wisconsin. Only recently he admitted that Schneider had to pull some strings to get him to pull the trigger.

 

He said, “John convinced me on Russell. He was on him early, then he came back from seeing him late in his season at Wisconsin, I think against Michigan State, and he was so enthused about him. I watched a lot of tape on him, and John was right on. Then he got here, and he was everything John said he was.”

 

In his first two seasons Wilson has won more games than any other quarterback in the history of the NFL during the same time frame. His record as a starter is (27-9) including the playoffs.

Sure, having the luxury of handing the ball off to Marshawn Lynch and being able to rely on the #1 defense to hold suit when you make a mistake have been key to Wilson’s early career success, but #3 brings a level of hard work and commitment to the position that hasn’t been seen since … well … Peyton Manning. Which is what makes this Super Bowl match-up all the more intriguing.

Almost, but not quite there.

Last season the Seahawks entered the playoffs as a dark horse. They won their final five games to nab a Wild Card slot at (11-5) and then dispatched of RGIII and the Redskins in Washington 24-14 after going down by two touchdowns in the first quarter.

The following week Seattle fell behind again to Atlanta. They rallied from 20 back in the fourth quarter to take a one-point lead with only 31 seconds left in the game. But Matt Ryan completed two long passes, setting up Matt Bryant for the 49-yard game winner to send the Falcons to the NFC Championship 30-28.

They couldn’t get it done on the road in the Georgia Dome, but by the time the pre-season rolled around, Seattle was a favorite to make it to the Super Bowl.

How they got here.

The 2013 season began on the road, and the Seahawks eked out a close 12-7 defensive battle against the Carolina Panthers. At the time the win didn’t seem all that impressive, but by the end of the season it became apparent that the Panthers were growing into a top NFC powerhouse.

The following weekend was the much-anticipated rematch between the Niners and Seahawks in Seattle. The last time SF came to town Kaepernick had had one of the worst games of his career, with the 49ers being embarrassed by the Hawks 42-13. NFL fans expected a more closely fought battle in week two, but once again Kaepernick was overwhelmed and the Seahawks made yet another statement with a 29-3 victory.

Seattle started out the season four and zero, with two more victories over the Jags and Texans.

In week five Seattle suffered their first loss of the year against fellow 2012 QB phenom Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts. The Seahawks vaunted D gave up 34 points, the most that they would surrender all season.

Following the loss Seattle ripped off seven straight wins, ending on a week 13 Monday Night Football showdown versus Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints. At the time the outcome of the game held the NFC home field advantage in the balance. Brees had the worst first half in his career (34 yards) against the Legion of Boom. The Seahawks won easily 34-7.

At (11-1) Seattle traveled to San Francisco for their final game at CandleStick Park. (The 49ers are moving to their new stadium in Santa Clara next season.) The Hawks were looking for the sweep, but San Francisco edged out Seattle 19-17 after Frank Gore ripped off a 51-yard run and Phil Dawson nailed a chip shot FG with 26 seconds to go.

After shutting out the NY Giants 23-0, Seattle would lose their only home game of the season as the promising Arizona Cardinals team shocked the Century Link crowd by shutting down Lynch and the Seattle offense en route to a 17-10 win.

In week 17, San Francisco’s victory meant that Seattle would need to beat the Rams at home in order to win the NFC West. It had been a foregone conclusion that the Seahawks would take the title, but the Niners won their final six games to put the pressure on the Hawks.

Seattle was able to take care of business and advanced as the number one seed in the NFC.

Brees gets a rematch.

In the divisional round of the playoffs, Seattle shut out New Orleans in the first half and appeared to be pulling away with a blowout victory behind Marshawn Lynch’s 140 yards and two TDs. But Brees engineered a second-half comeback and after recovering an onside kick, the Saints had a chance to tie the game after being down 16-0 for much of the contest. The Seahawks defense, however, was able to hold as Seattle won by eight, 23-15, and advanced to the NFC title game.

Sherman’s hand wins the game and then his mouth starts a controversy.

The NFC Championship was far too epic of a game to summarize. If you missed it, catch up with the times here.

 

But if you’re too lazy to read my post-game wrap-up, I suppose that all you really need to know is:

1. The Seahawks beat the 49ers 23-17.

2. Richard Sherman tipped away the game-winning TD pass targeted at Michael Crabtree.

3. Sherman went off like a crazy man, letting the world know what he thinks about both his and Crabtree’s abilities.

4. The world can’t wait to see what happens when Peyton Manning challenges the self-proclaimed best corner in the game next Sunday in Super Bowl XLVIII at Met Life Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

A different breed of football from a bygone era.

The Broncos made it to the Super Bowl by shattering NFL scoring records. Their style of play epitomizes the future of the NFL: pass deep and pass often.

But the Seahawks got to where they’re at by playing smashmouth football. They led the league in both scoring and total defense. Seattle ran the ball on 54.79% of their offensive plays, the highest rush percentage in the league.

So who’s going to win it? The old quarterback playing the new game, or the new quarterback playing the old game? We’ll preview Super Bowl XLVIII later on in the week.

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Michael Airhart

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