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That was fun... Let's do it again! | SEAHAWKS SPECIAL SECTION
We in the Pacific Northwest knew it from the beginning, but as the Seattle Seahawks and their top-ranked defense made their way through the NFL last year like a hot knife through butter, the buzz surrounding the team seemed to stay low.
All through the season and the playoffs, the Seahawks were downplayed and ignored by popular media and national talking heads.
That is until the “underdog” Hawks scored 12 seconds into Super Bowl XLVIII and never looked back, blasting the favored Denver Broncos 43-8 and bringing the Vince Lombardi Trophy to Seattle for the first time in the franchise’s history.
This season, however, the cat is out of the bag and no one is overlooking the Seahawks. This year, the team has a target on their back as they attempt to repeat as NFL champions.
But don’t worry, last year’s Super Bowl champs were the youngest team ever to win a title. At an average of 26 years and 162 days old at the time of the game, the Hawks appear to be built for the long haul.
On top of that, no one at the Virginia Mason Athletic Center, the Renton facility the Seahawks call home, is slacking.
“Right now I definitely believe we’re further ahead (than last year),” quarterback Russell Wilson said during this year’s minicamp in June. “It’s exciting. You have an itch because you know how to do it at a very high level and the best part about it is we can continue to do it better.”
Despite beginning just his third year in the pros, Wilson has emerged as the team’s leader on the offensive side of the ball. Already, the young quarterback is breaking records and the sky appears to be the limit for him and the Seahawks.
At just 25 years and 65 days old, Wilson became the third-youngest starter ever to win a Super Bowl and his 28 total victories are the most in NFL history to begin a career.
In the postseason, Wilson also shines. His 4-1 record and quarterback rating of 102 during the postseason ranks him second in history among quarterbacks in their first five postseason starts.
And if things get a little hairy off the bat? No problem for Wilson, who is already building a reputation as a comeback kid, thanks to four - count them FOUR - fourth-quarter comebacks last season, including two on the road. In just two seasons as the Seahawks starting quarterback, Wilson has led 10 fourth-quarter comebacks, ranking second-most ever for a quarterback in their his two seasons.
But it’s not just Wilson that opposing defenses will need to worry about. Taking the ball from Wilson this season will once again be Marshawn “Beast Mode” Lynch, who set a career-high in 2013 with 14 total touchdowns. Lynch is the only player in the NFL to score 10 rushing touchdowns and rack up more than 1,000 yards in each of the past three seasons.
Lynch also leads the NFL with 19 100-yard games since 2011 and in that time he also leads the league with 39 total touchdowns (35 rushing, four receiving).
But like last year, the Seattle Seahawks look to be led by their top-ranked defense and the world-famous Legion of Boom secondary corps, headed by all-pro Richard Sherman.
Sherman, whose last-second tip in the NFC Championship game put the Sea-hawks in the Super Bowl, is looking to improve on his league-leading eight interceptions, four of which came in his last three games. Sherman also led the team with 19 passes defensed.
His 20 interceptions and 60 passes defensed since 2011 lead the NFL and earned Sherman a big, new long-term contract in Seattle during the offseason.
Sherman wasn’t the only member of the Legion to re-sign in the offseason. Safety Earl Thomas, another Pro-Bowler who had a career-high tying five picks in 2013 and a career-high 100 tackles, also signed a new, four-year contract and continues to patrol the backfield at CenturyLink Field for the foreseeable future.
The Legion’s other two members are also locked up for at least this year. Safety Kam Chancellor, described as “the hardest hitting safety in the NFL at 6’3” and 232 pounds,” signed a four-year extension in 2013. He had nine tackles and an interception in last year’s Super Bowl.
The fourth member of the Legion, Byron Maxwell, is headed into his fourth professional season and second as a starter. Maxwell forced a fumble in the third quarter of the Super Bowl, recovered by Super Bowl MVP Malcolm Smith, effectively ending the Broncos chances of coming back.
Smith, also entering his fourth season as a linebacker with the Seahawks, is also back for more this year.
All together, the Legion of Boom was the NFL’s top-ranked passing defense last year as they allowed only 172 yards per game and led the Seahawks to an NFL-best 28 interceptions last year.
In total, the Seahawks defense dominated the NFL last season and gave up 231 points all of last season, an average of 14.4 per game, to lead the NFL. The Seahawks also led the league with a +20 turnover differential as the defense forced a league-leading 39 turnovers while the offense only coughed it up 19 times.
On the defensive line, Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril led the team in sacks, 8.5 and 8, respectively, adding to the Seahawks overall total off 44, good enough for eighth-best in the NFL.
But beyond the players on the field,
the Seahawks secret weapon is, of course, the 12th Man, the fans who last year set multiple records for crowd noise and whose support means that every game at CenturyLink Field this season is already sold out.
Thanks in part to the fans, Seattle won all but one game last year after going undefeated the year before at the CLink. In the past two seasons, Seattle’s point differential at home is +271 with a +25 turnover margin. In addition, since 2005, the Seattle Seahawks lead the league in opponent false start penalties with 132 in 72 games.
All together, the team and fans had a great ride last season, from training camp in Renton through an opening day win in Carolina to Sherman’s NFC Championship-saving deflection to the amazing victory parade in February.
And boy does that trophy look good here in Seattle.
Let’s do it again.