Seattle Seahawks: Super Bowl XLVIII
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Peyton Manning might be the best quarterback in NFL history, but Mr. Manning was no match for the Seattle Seahawks' defense in Super Bowl XLVIII.
He and his Denver Broncos were helpless, hopeless and hapless in a 43-8 loss to Seattle, which turned in one of the greatest defensive performances in Super Bowl history against the greatest offense in NFL history.
Manning had the best season of any quarterback, and the Broncos offense scored a record 606 points.
No. 1 offense versus No. 1 defense. It’s all everyone heard about going into this game.
Manning and his Broncos were completely outmanned by a defense like no other. This was men against boys, Super Bowl style.
"Our defense is one of the best that has ever played," Seattle defensive lineman Michael Bennett said without hesitation. "We just have so many great players. I can’t believe the NFL even lets us all play on the same defense. Guys like me, [free safety] Earl Thomas and [defensive end] Cliff Avril. It’s just unfair."
It looked unfair to the Broncos, a team that had manhandled almost every defense it faced this season.
But then they met the Seahawks' defense and became unwatchable.
"Watching the film on them, we saw they hadn’t played a defense like ours," middle linebacker Bobby Wagner said. "They hadn’t played a defense that flies around like we do, that hits like we do and does it on every single play."
Seattle had two interceptions and two forced fumbles. The Seahawks shut out Manning and the Broncos in the first half before allowing one meaningless touchdown in the third quarter, long after the outcome had been decided.
Seahawks outside linebacker Malcolm Smith was the Super Bowl MVP, the first defensive player to win it since Tampa Bay's Dexter Jackson in 2003. Smith had a 69-yard pick-six, a fumble recovery and 10 tackles. And he spent most of the season as a backup.
"It’s unbelievable," Smith said. "No way I thought this could happen, but it feels good. I just feel so fortunate to be a part of this defense.
"Peyton is a great quarterback, and they have a great offense, but we felt they hadn’t seen a defense with the amount of speed we have."
If ever the MVP trophy should have gone to a group, this game was it. You could have picked a half-dozen guys on Seattle's defense, including strong safety Kam Chancellor -- who had 10 tackles and an interception -- and Wagner, who had 10 tackles.
Avril had two pass deflections, one of which led to Smith's pick-six. Defensive end Chris Clemons forced a fumble and had a deflection.
Officially, the Seahawks had only one sack, but they were in Manning’s face most of the night.
"We knew if we got pressure on Manning, we could affect the outcome of the game," Avril said. "That’s what we did tonight."
They did it without any tricks or surprises.
"We didn’t change anything we do," Seattle defensive coordinator Dan Quinn said. "We let our guys play in the situations they are comfortable with. It wasn’t about [Denver]. It was about us playing the way we play."
And that meant getting after Manning.
"I know our guys know how to rush," Quinn said. "But we didn’t talk about sacks. We talked about moving Peyton off his spot. If we did that, we knew they would have to deal with us."
Manning has the ability to outsmart and out-think any defense. But Sunday, he looked like a confused kid against the neighborhood bullies.
Some people said this Super Bowl would determine his legacy. Hogwash. Manning’s legacy is secure. But no man, not even Superman, could have gotten it done against the Seahawks' defense Sunday night.
Don’t be misled by the statistics. Manning set a Super Bowl record for passes completed with 34 out of 49 throws. And receiver Demaryius Thomas had a record 13 receptions.
How utterly meaningless those numbers are. Most of those completions and catches came long after the outcome had been determined.
From the first play, it was a disaster for the Broncos. The opening snap sailed over Manning’s head for a safety.
It only got worse.
The Seahawks' defensive line dominated the game -- ferocious, fierce and overwhelmingly physical. They smacked the Broncos in the mouth, and Denver's offense couldn’t smack back.
"We know when we play up to our capabilities, no offense can beat us," Bennett said. "I think a lot of people who doubted us feel pretty stupid right now."
One historically great player was no match for a defense full of hungry, young players with a bad-boy image and a toughness that defined a championship season.
"I couldn’t be more proud of these guys," Quinn said. "We played the game on our terms. We just talked about playing our style, which is fast and physical. It’s an attitude."
It was an attitude that made history against a quarterback for the ages. In a season to cherish, Seattle's defense finished with a Super Bowl performance to remember.
Lynch had 15 carries for 39 yards and a touchdown, and again was a man of few words when it was over.
Lynch did not want to celebrate on the field, but once he got into the locker room, he cut loose. He changed from his uniform into a red jumpsuit with the words “Beast Mode” on the front, a black mask covering his nose and mouth and gold headphones on his head. He walked to the stereo in the room, turned up the music and started dancing as reporters surrounded him to capture any expression of emotion in lieu of more formal comments.
Lynch, who had 301 carries for 1,257 yards and 12 touchdowns this season, spent most of media day trying to avoid an NFL fine for not fulfilling his speaking obligations.
In one of the few formal interviews he did Sunday, he was asked if this was the best day of his life.
“Next to being born,” he said.
Lynch may have been a man of few words in the locker room but in a corridor outside, he talked to a group of friends, and told stories so loud that the punch line echoed down the hall.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Russell Wilson went to last season's Super Bowl to do research. So confident was the Seattle Seahawks' rookie quarterback in his and his team's ability to reach the NFL's championship game -- and reach it soon -- that he wanted to know everything he could about what it felt like to be there.
"I wanted to get a sense of how it was going to be," Wilson recalled Sunday night. "I wanted to know how the pregame was going to go, halftime, all of it, the whole experience, so I could be as prepared as possible."
This is why what happened Sunday night, with Wilson and the Seahawks trouncing Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos 43-8 in one of the most one-sided Super Bowls, is so scary. Wilson doesn't just ponder his future, he works to grab as much control of it as he possibly can. At 25 years old, he is already a Super Bowl champion quarterback. And while nothing for him or anyone is guaranteed, the possibilities for Wilson at this moment in time are dizzying.
He has the keys to the hottest car in the league and seems uniquely equipped to drive it. The Seahawks are the second-youngest team in the NFL and the second youngest ever to compete in a Super Bowl. The only younger roster in Super Bowl history was the 1971 Miami Dolphins, who lost Super Bowl VI to the Dallas Cowboys and then went undefeated the following season. These Seahawks have already done that group one better, and they did it with the defense leading the way. As Wilson improves with the wealth of young talent around him, only better things await.
"He just wants to be great so much," Seahawks wide receiver Percy Harvin said. "I haven't seen anybody prepare like him."
Here's what's special about Wilson's opportunity. He is set up, yes, with a dominant defense, power running game and a player -- Harvin -- that Wilson didn't even get to use this season waiting to do big things with him in 2014 and beyond. Having lasted until the third round of the 2013 draft, Wilson carries a mere $817,302 salary-cap hit for 2014, obviously less than he's worth. For now, he allows Seattle to continue to put great pieces around him. When you're still a couple of years from having to really pay your franchise quarterback, you can trade a first-round pick for Harvin. Your GM's offseason priority list becomes a lot more fun.
"Obviously, we feel like we have a really strong foundation," Seattle GM John Schneider said. "Every team's looking for a great pass rush, a great quarterback and a strong runner like Marshawn [Lynch]."
The Seahawks have all of that, and, unlike a lot of Super Bowl champions, it appears they will get to keep all of it for a while and build on it. As they do, they take great comfort in the knowledge that their 25-year-old quarterback won't let them get complacent.
"He refuses to fail. He refuses to let himself fail. And he's going to refuse to let anyone else around him allow that to happen," Seahawks offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said. "So he's always going to be grabbing guys and making them watch a little more film, make them work a little bit more on this play or that play. A lot of the things that you would say about Peyton Manning, he has a lot of those qualities."
Ah, yes, Manning: the established superstar vanquished by Wilson's Seahawks in Super Bowl XLVIII. This game had a chance to be Manning's coronation -- a victory that could have erased so many of the things his critics hold against him and anointed him the undisputed best of all time. That must wait now, and, at 37, Manning has to know he's running out of chances. Wilson inhabits the other end of the spectrum and can legitimately dream about winning countless more.
"We've already said it," Seattle wide receiver Doug Baldwin said. "We're going to win this one, and then what's next is we're going to win it again."
Seattle has a team-wide swagger befitting its youth, but Wilson has a leader's mien, and a leader's responsibility to be more circumspect.
"The goal was to win the first one," Wilson said. "We've got a great group of guys, and I believe we can do it again, but it's not easy. So you can think about the future and how many great players we have and one of the youngest teams in the league, but we just wanted to win this one. To think about the future, that wouldn't be us."
I thank Wilson for his permission, and here goes: There's no one in the NFL you'd rather be right now than Russell Wilson. He knows for a fact he can win the Super Bowl and has a team around him that's deep and solid enough to be a clear-cut Super Bowl favorite going into 2014. But what should frighten the rest of the teams in the NFL is Wilson knows the breadth of his opportunity and feels a responsibility to work hard enough to cash it in. Sunday was the night of Wilson's life so far, but there's ample reason to believe there are more nights like this to come.
It was as good as it had to be. Russell Wilson's passer rating was 123.1, eight different players caught his passes and he wasn't sacked or intercepted. Seattle raced out to a huge first-half lead, so Wilson didn't need to put up gaudy stats to win. But he was 4-of-5 for 64 yards on third-down plays in the first quarter, when the game was still in doubt, and he was still flinging it around in the fourth quarter as the Seahawks padded their lead.
Marshawn Lynch struggled to find room against Terrance Knighton and a Broncos defensive front focused on stopping the run. But Seattle's yards-per-carry average got a boost from Percy Harvin's 15-yard and 30-yard runs on jet sweep plays, and Lynch was able to muscle into the end zone on second down from the 1-yard line after a pass interference penalty in the end zone set up the game's first touchdown.
Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning won his fifth MVP award for a season in which he threw a record 55 touchdown passes. But he was a mess all night against Seattle's pass rush, throwing two interceptions. Led by Cliff Avril, Seattle's line moved Manning off his spot all night and batted down some key passes while the big, physical defensive backs made life miserable for Broncos receivers before and after the catch. The "Legion of Boom" lived up to its name, outmuscling the top-scoring offense in NFL history.
Total domination. And yeah, the Broncos had to get away from the run because they were down 15-0 before they had a chance to run their offense. But Seattle's front bottled up Knowshon Moreno and Montee Ball, holding Denver to 27 yards rushing on 14 carries, forcing a fumble (that Denver recovered) and stripping the Broncos of any chance to maintain any level of balance on offense.
Harvin barely played all season. Finally healthy, he was a difference-maker in the biggest game of his career. Seattle's 22-0 halftime lead looked tough to overcome, but the 29-0 lead they had 12 seconds into the half after Harvin's 87-yard kickoff return for a touchdown looked impossible. Seattle's kick coverage team held electric Denver return man Trindon Holliday in check.
Give Pete Carroll the grade for the full year, as every move he made seemed to pay off. He had enough faith in his defense to let Manning start the game with the ball after he won the coin toss and to kick a first-quarter field goal instead of going for it on fourth-and-short inside the Denver 10. He also stayed aggressive even as his team was rolling early, calling timeout on a Denver fourth-and-2 from the Seattle 19 with 1:06 left in the first half. Seattle didn't even try to move the ball in the final minute after stopping the Broncos and taking possession, but it showed a coach in control of the game. You also have to hand Seattle defensive coordinator Dan Quinn the victory over Denver offensive coordinator Adam Gase in the matchup of hot head-coaching candidates.
What it means: The Seahawks are Super Bowl champions for the first time in franchise history. Seattle ends the season 16-3. The Seahawks lost their only other Super Bowl appearance, 21-10 to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Feb. 5, 2006.
Stock watch: A defense like no other, and one that now will go down as one of the best in NFL history. It was a dominate performance by the Seattle defense against Denver's record-setting offense. The Seahawks did what almost no one has been able to this season by getting pressure on quarterback Peyton Manning and forcing him to make mistakes. Manning threw two interceptions in the first half because he was under pressure by the Seahawks. Defensive end Cliff Avril had two deflections and Chris Clemons had a forced fumble and one deflection. Middle linebacker Bobby Wagner got his hands in Manning’s face to force the first interception.
The $67 million Super Bowl man: After a season where injuries caused him to play only six quarters, Percy Harvin showed why the Seahawks signed him to a six-year, $67 million deal. He put the game away 12 seconds into the second half with an 87-yard kickoff return after he picked up the ball on a bounce. He also had 45 yards rushing on two jet sweeps in the first half. He was the difference-maker everyone thought he could be.
Smith gets his due: Linebacker Malcolm Smith had the game-saving interception in the end zone against the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship Game, but it hardly was noticed after Richard Sherman (who tipped the pass that Smith intercepted) had his postgame rant. Well, Smith got his moment in the Super Bowl with a 69-yard pick-six in the second quarter and a fumble recovery in the third quarter.
MetLife a second Seattle home: The Seahawks may want to lobby to play more games in New Jersey. In two games at MetLife Stadium this season, Seattle outscored the Giants and Broncos, 66-8.
Manning maulers: The Seattle defense was kryptonite for the Manning brothers this season. Eli Manning threw five interceptions in the 23-0 Giants loss to the Seahawks; Peyton Manning had two interceptions and a touchdown pass against Seattle.
Bam-Bam Kam: Strong safety Kam Chancellor was a force throughout the playoffs for Seattle. His punishing hits continued against Denver and he had a key interception in the first quarter.
What's next: A victory parade is coming to downtown Seattle. No date has been set, but it’s likely Wednesday or Thursday. That may cause more seismic activity on the shores of Elliott Bay. After that, the Seahawks will have some free agents who will be in high demand during the offseason such as defensive lineman Michael Bennett and receiver Golden Tate.
That leaves Seattle with only two tight ends for the game -- starter Zach Miller and rookie Luke Willson. Davis (6-foot-7, 265 pounds) has been used quite a bit as an extra blocker, especially in goal-line situations.
There was no report this week of Davis being injured or missing practice.
The other six inactives were not a surprise: receiver Bryan Walters, rookie running back Christine Michael, offensive tackles Michael Bowie and Caylin Hauptmann, defensive tackle Jordan Hill and defensive end Benson Mayowa.
Here are five things the Seattle Seahawks must do well to defeat the Denver Broncos at MetLife Stadium:
1. Pressure Peyton Manning: It’s a mammoth task against a quarterback who gets rid of the football so quickly, but it isn’t so much about getting sacks as it is putting enough pressure on Manning to take him out of his comfort zone.
Everyone knows Manning is a classic pocket passer. He likes to step up in the pocket to make his throws. That will make it difficult for a talented edge-rusher like Cliff Avril to get to Manning.
"There’s no certain way to get to Manning," Bennett said. "It comes down to doing what we do and beating your man."
2. Let the quiet Beast loudly rumble: It’s been a strange and somewhat stressful week for Marshawn Lynch, having to do media sessions on three consecutive days. Not his cup of tea, and a distraction the Seahawks could have lived without, but that is all behind them now.
When asked what his biggest concern was regarding the Denver defense, Lynch didn’t hesitate. "Pot Roast," he said, which is Knighton’s nickname. "He’s a big boy."
The Seahawks might use a third tackle with Alvin Bailey, as they did against the 49ers, to line up with tight end Zach Miller and use a muscle push to run Lynch off the edge of the line and hope he goes Beast Mode.
3. Keep the Broncos guessing with Harvin: The Seahawks need to make the most of their X factor in receiver Percy Harvin. The Denver defense can’t know exactly how to account for a guy who played only six quarters this season, but they know he’s faster than a cheetah with its tail on fire.
"We’re excited to have Percy back, because he brings more to the table," Tate said. "He's going to open it up for other guys more."
4. Punish the Broncos on crossing routes: The Seattle defense can’t allow Manning and his receivers to nickel-and-dime them to death with short passes over the middle and quick slants.
"We are a physical bunch," Chancellor said. "We like to be physical. We like to be hands-on. We like to make you feel our presence. That’s how we operate."
5. Play with poise: This is the most important point. Seattle is the more talented team overall, but the Seahawks must play smart and not get over-amped in the biggest game of their lives. Careless personal fouls and false starts can be the difference in the game, and too much emotion can cause a player to make a mistake he wouldn’t normally make.
The same is true in the Super Bowl. Play your game and don’t give the Broncos a freebie. Do what you did to get here.
"Respect the journey," said Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson. "But at the same time, enjoy the moment. Take it all in. It is real. Just be poised and respect the process. I’m going to play with a smile on my face and just go for it."
Good advice. If the Seahawks follow it, that should be enough.
Seattle Seahawks receiver Percy Harvin will play in Super Bowl XLVIII. If this was your company softball team playing for the league title, you’d be adding a ringer moments before the first pitch.
It is one of the most unusual situations ever, adding a Pro Bowl-caliber player who only played in six quarters all season, for the biggest event in sports.
“It’s not about me,” Harvin said. “I’m just adding another playmaker. We already have three or four good receivers out there. I’m just adding to the mix.”
The mix now has a player who might be the fastest man in the NFL. Speed is a dangerous thing when you add in all the other skills Harvin possesses -- a precise route-runner, elusive ball carrier and explosive kick returner.
“His acceleration is unbelievable,” Seattle tight end Zach Miller said. “He’s a playmaker. Once he gets the ball in his hands, he is so explosive and so fast. He’s definitely a threat to score every time he touches the ball.”
Harvin has started almost every interview this week with this statement: “I’m just glad to be here.”
Obviously, but considering what he has endured this season, it’s a little like leaving a prison cell for a penthouse suite on Park Avenue.
He signed a six-year, $67 million deal with the Seahawks last March and was widely viewed as the offensive weapon that would propel the Seahawks to the next level. But Harvin had major hip surgery on Aug. 1 to repair a torn labrum.
He returned Nov. 17 for the game against his former Minnesota Vikings teammates, showing his talent with a 58-yard kickoff return and a spectacular one-handed catch on a third-down play that kept a scoring drive alive.
Maybe it was too much too soon. Harvin aggravated his hip injury, which became inflamed afterward. He missed the rest of the regular season. Seattle coach Pete Carroll was about to put Harvin on injured reserve before the playoffs started, but Harvin convinced Carroll he could play.
Harvin caught three passes in the New Orleans playoff game, but suffered a concussion at the end of the first half. He didn't make it through the mandatory concussion protocol in time to play in the NFC Championship Game against San Francisco.
“It’s been weird, frustrating, disappointing, all the above, man,” Harvin said. “I had a tough time, and it wore on me a little bit. But my teammates have been A-plus-plus. This whole organization has been top of the line.”
Harvin said one teammate helped him more than any other.
“A couple times I was really down," Harvin said. “But [cornerback] Richard Sherman, I don’t know how he even read me, but he came up and said, ‘Man, I kind of see you’re really down. You’ll get through this. We have your back.’ I’m so grateful for that.”
Now Harvin is back for the biggest game of his life. And he’s smiling, something he hasn't done much of this season. He was grinning from ear-to-ear at every media session. Something has changed beyond the obvious. Harvin is healthy, finally, and he knows he has a chance to show what he can do on the NFL's biggest stage.
“You can really see it in his eyes,” Seattle offensive tackle Russell Okung said. “You know that anytime Percy gets the ball, he’s looking to run by a guy and score. Anytime you have a guy like that, he’s hard to beat. He has a zeal for the game. I can’t wait to have him out there. It’s almost something magical.”
"But at the same time, it's frustrating for the fans. He has no problem with connecting with the fans. He does a lot of community service and social media. This is what the NFL wanted. They wanted to make a story. Any publicity for the NFL is good publicity."
Richard Sherman admits he loves the media attention, but said Lynch shouldn't be criticized for disliking it.
"I'm comfortable in front of a crowd and public speaking," Sherman said. "It's fun for me. I enjoy it. Obviously, not everybody in the world is comfortable with it. Sometimes people get anxiety and shouldn't be forced to do it, because it's not for everyone."
Defensive end Chris Clemons rarely talks to the media, too, so he understands Lynch not wanting to participate.
"I don't think he has to sell himself because of the people around that want to talk to him," Clemons said. "He didn't get the name Beast Mode by talking to the media. That's just who he is. He doesn't have to talk. He does it with his pads. That's who he is."
Defensive linemen Michael Bennett said reporters don't understand Lynch.
"I don't think the media understands anybody," Bennett said. "If they did, they wouldn't be mediating. Marshawn is a great guy, though. He goes out there and puts the team on his back.
"I don't think the media really understands what it takes to be an NFL running back. I don't care if he ever really talks to the media as long as he does his job for us. I will always be there for him."
Middle linebacker Bobby Wagner says Lynch is talkative to the people closest to him.
"He's a great person," Wagner said. "He talks a lot more to us than media. I think it's just a thing where he's not that type of person to open up to people [he doesn't know]. When you force somebody like that to talk to you, he's just going to shut down even more.
"Honestly, he's been nothing but great to me. I've never had anything bad to say about him. If a guy is quiet, let him be quiet. If he doesn't want to talk, you can't force a man to talk. You all aren't going to get anything out of him but frustrating him. That's not the type of person you want to frustrate."
Backup running Robert Turbin said Lynch has made him a much better football player.
"I've learned a lot from him," Turbin said. "I don't want to get too specific, but I can tell you he sets a great example on Sundays, as far as just how to get it done. He's smart, more than people know, and he knows defenses. I try to take what I can from him and incorporate it in my game."
Baldwin said Lynch always will have his support.
"He's a loving, caring teammate and he's a teddy bear," Baldwin said. "He will do anything for his teammates. He's a selfless player. Why wouldn't you want to come to his aid when he's being forced into something he doesn't want to do?"
JERSEY CITY, N.J. -- Richard Sherman is done talking -- at least for now.
Many expected Sherman to continue making incendiary remarks this week under the Super Bowl spotlight, in the largest media market in the country. But he steered clear of controversy, for the most part.
The one issue that flared up stemmed from something Sherman wrote in a column published on TheMMQB.com a month ago. Sherman listed the Denver Broncos’ Peyton Manning as the smartest quarterback in the NFL, but questioned his arm strength, saying Manning throws “ducks.”
Sherman stood by what he wrote when asked about it Wednesday. On Thursday morning, Manning was asked to respond.
“I do throw ducks,” Manning said. “I’ve thrown a lot of yards and touchdown ducks, so I’m actually quite proud of it.”
A couple hours later, Sherman was asked to respond to Manning’s comment.
“Oh, I agree,” Sherman said. “That’s exactly what I said. That’s what I said. It sounds like a repeat of what I said.”
This hardly qualifies as a war of words.
Sherman’s words immediately after his Seahawks beat the San Francisco 49ers two Sunday ago, however, are another story. “I’m the best corner in the game,” Sherman yelled into the TV camera, before ripping 49ers wide receiver Michael Crabtree.
Sherman was asked Thursday if he still feels he is the best cornerback in the NFL.
“As a corner, at the cornerback position, I think every one of them out there is gonna say that they’re the best. And that’s the way you gotta play the position,” Sherman said. “I’m sure every corner out there that’s playing good football right now -- the Joe Hadens, the Patrick Petersons, the Darrelle Revises, the Aqib Talibs, the Alterraun Verners -- feels like they’re the best corner in football. In order to play this game at the highest level, that’s how you gotta feel, that’s the confidence you feel.”
“Now they may not go out and say it out loud and proclaim it like I do,” Sherman added. “But I’m 100 percent sure they feel that way. They played some great football, and they deserve to feel that way as well.”
Sherman went into Super Bowl week like a lion, and went out like a lamb.
Now all that’s left is a football game, three days from now.
“Yeah, it’s been pretty cool,” Ryan said. “I’ve got a lot of support from family back home. I’ve got 15 family and friends coming out to be here for the game. Everyone back home is pretty excited. Everyone has really gotten behind me. It means a lot to me.
‘‘My family has been telling me they are the most famous people in town this week. They’re even doing interviews and radio shows. They did [TV news show] 'Canada AM' this morning. They are all pretty pumped about it. The city and the province have been so behind me through all of this. I could have never imagined that type of support.”
Few people know that Ryan was a talented wide receiver in college at the University of Regina. He caught a 109-yard TD pass (fields in Canada are 110 yards) as a sophomore.
“I was actually drafted [in the Canadian Football League] as a kicker/wide receiver,” he said. “But I knew my path would be a punter. That’s what I’ve always kind of excelled at, and that was really my No. 1 love when it came to football. It was punting. It might not be as glamorous as the wide receiver position, but it worked out for me.”
Ryan played two years in the CFL for Winnipeg before signing with Green Bay in 2006, his first NFL season. He signed with Seattle in 2008.
“My goal was always to make the NFL,” Ryan said. “But it kind of seemed like a pipe dream until that second season in the CFL, when I made a lot of improvements to my game. I started kind of piling up some good stats."
At age 32, Ryan is the second-oldest player on the Seahawks, one month younger than defensive end Chris Clemons, but Ryan is at the top of his game.
Of his 82 punts this season, including the playoffs, only 22 have been returned, for a total of 82 yards. So opponents average only 1 yard gained every time Ryan punts, an astonishing number.
Ryan gets great hang time on his kicks, but he also credits his teammates on punt coverage.
“Our gunners, [Byron] Maxwell, [Ricardo] Lockette and Jeremy Lane, they’ve done a great job of forcing a lot of fair catches,’’ Ryan said. “Those guys are just some of the best in the game at what they do. It makes it a lot easier for me to punt the ball and know they are going to be down there making those tackles.”
Quinn did it for two years, in 2007 and 2008, coaching the defensive line for Eric Mangini's New York Jets. You never know, maybe there will be more green in his future, because if Rex Ryan disappoints in 2014 and gets fired, Quinn will be high on general manager John Idzik's list of replacement candidates.
But that's crystal ball talk, especially this week, with Quinn back home for Super Bowl XLVIII. He's the defensive coordinator of the Seattle Seahawks, and his job is to figure out what so many others have tried (and failed) to do this season: Make Denver Broncos star Peyton Manning play like a mortal quarterback.
Quinn, 43, isn't coming into this with decades of been-there, done-that experience, that's for sure, but he has worked for several respected coaches in a relatively short amount of time. Pete Carroll. Nick Saban. Steve Mariucci. And the late Joe Gardi, the former Hofstra coach who made his bones as a Jets defensive assistant during the heyday of the New York Sack Exchange.
"It was one of the most awesome places to come up as a young coach," Quinn said of his five years at Hofstra (1996-2000), which produced NFL players Wayne Chrebet, Willie Colon, Lance Schulters and Marques Colston before the university's suits decided to shut down the football program.
After jobs with the San Francisco 49ers and Miami Dolphins, Quinn ended up back on the Hofstra campus, except it was to work for the Jets, who trained at the Long Island school before moving to Florham Park, N.J., in 2008. He saw a lot in a short amount of time with the Jets, experiencing one of the most talked-about years in team history.
Quinn said the quarterbacks had a small basketball hoop in their meeting room and that, during breaks, Favre organized games. He described the future Hall of Famer as ultra competitive.
"He was one of the most fun guys to be around," Quinn said, smiling. "He had a great energy about him in terms of the way he conducted himself."
Unfortunately for the Jets, Favre's arm gave out, the team collapsed in the home stretch, it missed the playoffs, and Mangini was fired.
In came Ryan, who cleared out almost the entire coaching staff, including Quinn. But there was something different about Quinn's departure. People remember how a variety of staffers, from the video department to the grounds crew, showed up to say goodbye -- a reflection of his popularity.
Quinn went to Seattle, where he was introduced to Idzik, then a Seahawks executive. Quinn stayed for two years and returned this season, with a two-year stint as the University of Florida defensive coordinator sandwiched in between. He was Carroll's immediate choice to replace Gus Bradley, who left to become the Jacksonville Jaguars' coach.
Under Quinn, the Seahawks improved, going from No. 4 to No. 1 in total defense. Obviously, he inherited a tremendous amount of talent, but there's something to be said for not messing up a good thing. In some ways, he made it better, especially against the pass.
"He represents our mentality and our approach really well, that's why we were so excited to get him back," Carroll said. "He's everything beyond what I thought he'd be. He was able to not just capture [our philosophy], but accent it, doing it in his fashion."
Quinn has worked for polar opposites in Carroll and Mangini. Carroll is laid back, the epitome of California cool. Mangini is rigid and uptight, a micromanager. But Quinn liked his time with Mangini, praising his organizational skills and saying "there was an upper level of thinking with Eric."
Carroll has a Mr. Nice Guy reputation, but he challenges his assistants in the meeting room, seeing how they respond in hypothetical game situations. Of course, there's a soft edge.
"There are a lot of different ways to do the job," Quinn said.
Quinn has drawn attention around the league. During the Seahawks' playoff bye, he interviewed for the Cleveland Browns' head-coach vacancy. He might have landed the job, but he was penalized by the Seahawks' success. The Browns didn't want to wait for Quinn, so they hired Mike Pettine.
"No complaints on my end," said Quinn, who will be a hot candidate next year.
What's to complain about? He's preparing for a Super Bowl in East Rutherford, N.J., where he spent part of his youth cheering for his champions. If he wins Sunday, he'll walk among them.
And that Lynch would become a far bigger distraction for everyone involved?
Strange, but true.
Before Wednesday morning’s media session at the Seahawks' team hotel, Sherman had a spot in the corner with about 20 people around him.
But most of the media gathered around a table in a hallway outside the main room, waiting for Lynch to take his designated seat, and once again, say almost nothing for a few minutes.
Lynch “talked” Tuesday for 6 minutes, 20 seconds on the official media day. He managed to increase his time in front of reporters by 27 seconds Wednesday.
The rest of his opening statement was more telling by Lynch, who did not wear sunglasses Wednesday, as he had done on media day.
“I just don't get it,” he said. “I'm just here so I don't get fined.”
During most of the interview, a visibly uncomfortable Lynch sat in silence, with teammate Michael Robinson at his side. A series of questions were directed toward Robinson about Lynch, who was sporting gold-toned headphones.
Lynch did not speak to reporters during the regular season, but the NFL was going to fine him $50,000 if he didn’t start talking in the playoffs. He has complied, sort of, usually answering questions with brief two- or three-word meaningless responses.
And that was OK, until now. This is the Super Bowl, and the Pro Football Writers of America, as an organization, is not pleased.
The PFWA released a statement Wednesday morning, stating it was “extremely disappointed in the lack of meaningful access” to Lynch.
“Several of our long-standing and high-profile members were appalled by Mr. Lynch’s conduct [on media day] and refusal to answer any questions,” the PFWA said in the statement. "We find the statement by the league that ‘players are required to participate and he participated’ to be an affront to our membership.”
So now, the football writers have taken a strong stand against Lynch, and in the process will infuriate thousands of Seahawks fans who love him. That isn't really germane to the problem at hand.
I've never had an issue with Lynch not talking. And I don’t think anyone among the reporters who cover the team cared, either, but he was breaking league rules.
Now Lynch has made a joke out of the entire process at the Super Bowl. He has outsmarted the NFL, making a mockery of its request that he speaks to reporters during access periods.
So his non-compliance compliance is the biggest controversy of Super Bowl week -- the last thing the Seahawks needed.
Maybe it won’t matter come Sunday. Maybe Lynch will rush for 100 yards and score a couple of touchdowns to lead Seattle to victory over the Denver Broncos.
That could lead to another problem: What if he is voted MVP of the game? Then what would he do with hundreds of reporters wanting to talk to him? What would the NFL make him do?
The Seahawks could live with that scenario if they win the game, but this entire talk/not-talk sideshow has become a major distraction most teams try to avoid at the Super Bowl.
Defensive lineman Michael Bennett, and his R-rated, Elvis-like celebration dance, is a force up front for the Seattle defense. Strong safety Kam Chancellor is a highlight-reel hitter who makes receivers wish they had taken up another profession.
On Super Bowl Sunday, some casual fans will learn all about middle linebacker Bobby Wagner for the first time. He is the great unknown of Seattle's defense and the man this unit can’t live without in order to function at maximum capacity.
Wagner is overshadowed by a defense with big talkers, big dancers and big hitters, but he is the glue that holds it all together. And he's OK if some of his teammates get most of the glory.
“I think we’re all very skilled at the positions we’re playing,” Wagner said. “We don’t feel like anyone matches us. So when we play any team, we always feel like we’re going to come out victorious.”
Wagner, an Ontario, Calif., native who played college football at Utah State, is finishing his second NFL season after being picked by the Seahawks in the second round of the 2012 draft.
At the time, there was a lot of “Bobby who?” among some Seahawks fans. But that didn't last long. Wagner started 15 games last season and set the franchise record for tackles by a rookie with 140, along with three interceptions and two sacks.
With all that, he still was overshadowed by another rookie -- Carolina linebacker Luke Kuechly, a first-round draft pick who had 164 tackles last season.
Nothing new for Wagner, but the Seahawks knew they had a rock in the middle of their defense for years to come.
That rock, however, showed a little crack earlier this year.
Wagner suffered a nasty high-ankle sprain against Indianapolis on Oct. 6. It appeared the injury would keep him out for a month or more, but Wagner returned after missing two games.
It was too soon. He pushed himself to recover but didn’t play well in his first game at St. Louis as the Seahawks gave up 200 yards rushing.
“I was playing in some pain,” Wagner said. “But it wasn’t like I felt I couldn’t do the job. I wanted to be out there, and I felt I could help the team.”
There was some rumbling about what was wrong with Wagner. Nothing as it turned out, once his ankle healed.
“When Bobby came back from the injury, he was still banged up,” Seattle defensive coordinator Dan Quinn said. “There was a game there where he didn’t play as fast as we’d like him to. Then it clicked where he got back into his rhythm. That made all of the difference for us.”
Since the start of November, Wagner has had at least eight tackles in every game, including 10 or more tackles in four outings. Maybe his best game of the season came in the NFC Championship Game against the 49ers.
Sherman, in the national spotlight that night for his postgame rant, knew how well Wagner had played.
“Bobby had 15 tackles,” Sherman said. “He had a great game, like a lot of our guys. The stories would have been about them. So that’s the only thing I feel kind of regretful about.”
Wagner is as fundamentally sound a tackler as you will find. He isn’t flashy, but he does everything at a high level. He has five sacks, two interceptions and six passes defensed this season. He is also the quarterback of the defense.
“He’s someone we certainly count on to do a lot of stuff,” Quinn said, “not just from the attitude that he brings but making the calls.”
Making sure the Seahawks are in the right defense at the right moment, something that will be critical against Denver’s hurry-up offense with Peyton Manning, is Wagner’s responsibility.
“Bobby has really played well since the second half of the season,” Seattle coach Pete Carroll said. “He has just jumped on board of all of the commands of the defense and the calls and the adjustments that he has to make. He’s really playing fast. I think it’s just a natural process of how he’s grown and how this defense has grown.”
The Seahawks have a defense full of stars, but Wagner is the guy who puts them in position to shine. And he just might have a couple of shining moments himself on Sunday.
NEWARK, N.J. -- Seattle Seahawks receiver Ricardo Lockette was interviewed by Thomas Jefferson.
A caped crusader in a black mask was doing live shots in front of Russell Wilson's podium.
An attractive woman in a tight-fitting crocheted mini-dress, who apparently didn't think there was a need for undergarments, was walking around in thigh-high boots with seemingly no desire to interview anyone. However, plenty of men wanted to interview her.
Welcome to Super Bowl media day, which has about as much to do with football as baking a cake does to nuclear fusion.
It was all new to the Seahawks, except for Lockette, who saw this circus sideshow last season with the San Francisco 49ers.
"This is the crazy part," said Lockette in what might have been the understatement of the day.
Most of the Seahawks seemed to enjoy the moment, one hour of zaniness with more than a thousand "reporters" there to hype what is the most-hyped event in the world.
If you're looking for answers to a lot of serious football questions, you came to the wrong place. Wilson was asked what he plans to eat before the Super Bowl. "Just normal stuff," he said.
Defensive lineman Michael Bennett had a more elegant response when asked his favorite food: "European truffles."
Really? OK, Chef Bennett. That question came right after he was asked to do his impression of President Obama, which wasn't half bad.
Receiver Golden Tate wore a tiny video camera on his cap so he could record all the people recording him.
Media day usually takes place in the stadium in which the Super Bowl will be played, but NFL honchos were concerned about possible snow and extreme cold this time. They elected to stage media day in the Prudential Center, an impressive hockey arena, but a cattle-call setting with so many people on the event floor.
Fans could sit in the arena and watch a giant video screen, on which four players were shown as they were being interviewed. As it turned out, the sun was shining Tuesday in New Jersey, but it was 23 degrees, so maybe being indoors was the right idea.
The Denver Broncos were up first in the morning session, followed by an intermission during which a band played Bruce Springsteen songs, but no Bruce Springsteen. Isn't that sacrilege in Jersey?
When the Seahawks arrived, I bet you can guess the most popular man of the hour: none other than Richard Sherman, the self-professed best cornerback in football. There were more than 100 people around him for the entire hour, hoping he might go off on a rant like his postgame comments nine days ago.
Didn't happen. Sherman is way too smart for that. He was on his best behavior, savoring every moment. The real Sherman showed up, the one who is cordial, happy and cooperative.
A couple of times he got up from his podium seat and walked over to answer questions from people behind him. He probably would have stayed another hour had the team allowed it.
When asked about how some reporters portray him only as arrogant and brash, Sherman said. "Sometimes, I make it easy on them. Sometimes, I do it on purpose. But I like to see which journalists will do a little research."
"The only women I've seen are ones who work in the media," he said, wisely avoiding the question.
On what he wants to do this week that he hasn't done yet: "Well, I want to ride the subway."
Sherman also declared that free safety Earl Thomas is a "fashion icon" as the team's best dresser.
Running back Marshawn Lynch won't win any awards from GQ, and he's the only player or coach who clearly didn't want any part of the media frenzy. Lynch was not at a podium, sitting off in a corner wearing his hoodie and sunglasses as reporters crowded around him.
"I appreciate this," Lynch said. "This is straight-up amazing right here."
Lynch didn't speak to reporters all season until the NFL was going to fine him $50,000 if he didn't talk in the playoffs. Tuesday was a record for Lynch: a 6 minute, 21 second interview before he shut down the session. That's about twice the length of his usual interviews.
"It don't make me uncomfortable," Lynch said of talking to reporters. "I'm just about action. All this unnecessary talk don't do nothing for me. I just go to work and do my thing. My fans love me regardless. They don't care what I got to say. They just want me to perform."
But at least he showed up. That was up for debate Monday night.
"I knew he would show up," said Seattle fullback Michael Robinson, Lynch's closest friend on the team. "They were going to fine him if he didn't. He likes money too much."
And so does the NFL, which is why media day is a show in itself. It's fun, entertaining and quite comical at times, a true theater of the absurd. But it's isn't much about football.
And I think Thomas Jefferson left with the young lady in the crocheted mini-dress.