SEATTLE (AP) - It took 38 seasons of existence but the Seattle Seahawks finally reached the top of the NFL. Led by the energy of coach Pete Carroll, a defense that was the class of the league and an efficient offense, the Seahawks surpassed the expectations set before the season and won the first Super Bowl in franchise history.
Here’s a look at the highs and lows from Seattle’s championship season:
Best Game: Hard to top the conclusion. Seattle shut down the best offense in NFL history with shocking ease to claim its first Super Bowl with a 43-8 rout of the Broncos. They made Peyton Manning and Denver’s vaunted offense look passive and confused. Percy Harvin showed why Seattle made the six-year, $67 million investment with a kickoff return touchdown to start the second half. But the play of the Seahawks defense - led by MVP Malcolm Smith - had already determined the outcome.
Worst Game: There weren’t many. Seattle’s 17-10 loss to Arizona in Week 16 forced the Seahawks into the final week of the regular season to clinch the NFC West and home-field advantage, and snapped a 14-game home win streak. Arizona’s defense flustered Russell Wilson and stymied Marshawn Lynch. It’s a sign of things to come next season in the NFC West.
Best Play: Which Richard Sherman moment deserves more praise? While his deflection of Colin Kaepernick’s pass that led to Malcolm Smith’s clinching interception in the NFC championship was the most indelible moment of the season, the best play was his pick-six of Matt Schaub in Week 4. Sherman and safety Kam Chancellor read the play perfectly. Sherman’s pick and score sent the game to overtime and gave Seattle the first 4-0 start in franchise history.
Worst Play: It was actually a four-play sequence late in the first half of Seattle’s Week 16 loss to Arizona. With first-and-goal at the Arizona 3, Seattle failed to find the end zone. Kicker Steven Hauschka then missed the kick, clanking a 24-yard field goal try off the upright.
Biggest Surprise: DT Michael Bennett. He was a bargain signing in the offseason that might have been Seattle’s most invaluable acquisition. Once Seattle figured out how to properly use Bennett, he became the disruptive force Pete Carroll sought for his defensive line. Re-signing Bennett seems a priority.
Biggest Disappointment: RB Christine Michael. When Seattle selected Michael in the second round in April, he was believed to be the new version of Leon Washington - a speedy option out of the backfield. Instead, Michael was inactive six times in the regular season and all three playoff games and never made any sort of an impression.
What’s Next: Trying to become the first team since New England a decade ago to repeat; salary cap decisions for Sidney Rice, Chris Clemons and Red Bryant to name a few; extensions for Earl Thomas and possibly Sherman; finding help for an offensive line that struggled in stretches.
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org