Now that they’ve pulled off a comeback for the ages, the Seattle Seahawks must recognize how fortunate they are to be in a second consecutive Super Bowl.
And how much better they must play on Feb. 1 to grab another NFL championship.
Seattle’s memorable victory — forgettable if you are a Cheesehead — displayed a champion’s resilience and confidence. It also revealed issues that Pete Carroll’s team needs to solve before facing an equally resilient and confident bunch from New England.
“We had troubles with these guys,” said of the Packers, “and really we couldn’t get out of our own way. We couldn’t get our rhythm going, couldn’t get on schedule.
“It just took us a long time before those penalties that were jumping up and moving around, and all of the things that were kicking us in the butt went away. And then we started playing, and it was just we believed that once we started playing we can really go. And it just took a long time for it to show up, but once it did …”
The skills that have made the Seahawks the team to beat can’t show up in the last few minutes in the Super Bowl. With the way New England’s offense is rolling, it isn’t likely to settle for field goals like Green Bay did. The Patriots won’t back off defensively as the Packers did when it was 19-7.
And they can’t be expected to fall apart on special teams, which saved the Seahawks and doomed the Packers on Sunday.
“The ball didn’t bounce our way the whole game,” said Russell Wilson, who was picked a career-high four times, and also ran for a TD before his 35-yard pass to Jermaine Kearse won it in overtime. “But it bounced our way at the right time, so that’s always good.”
Some things that must be better in the Super Bowl for Seattle to become the first repeat winner since New England after the 2003 and `04 seasons:
CUT DOWN ON TURNOVERS: The Seahawks had only 14 giveaways during the season, one more than New England. There were five (Doug Baldwin fumbled on a kickoff return) against the Packers.
Two of the interceptions were on passes tipped by Kearse, the target on all four picks. Still, Wilson must be more precise while remaining aggressive because New England doesn’t back off. Ever.
FEED THE BEAST: Marshawn Lynch rushed for 157 yards, including a powerful yet speedy 24-yard TD run with 1:25 remaining for a short-lived 22-19 lead. But he had only 37 in the first half. Seattle needs a more effective opening two quarters from him.
While we’re at it, the Seahawks can’t get off to such a spotty start in the Super Bowl. Green Bay outgained Seattle 137-3 in the first period and was ahead 13-0.
PRESSURE BRADY: The only way to slow the Patriots’ offense is by making Brady uncomfortable. Force him to throw before wants to or when his feet are not set. Collapse the pocket.
Rarely did the Seahawks do that against the Packers. Indeed, if Aaron Rodgers wasn’t so hobbled by a calf injury, he probably would have made enough effective runs to send Green Bay to the big game.
Even with Rodgers struggling, Seattle had one sack.
GET HEALTHY: Both All-Pro defensive backs, CB Richard Sherman (arm) and S Earl Thomas (shoulder) were banged up against Green Bay. While the matchup of huge strong safety Kam Chancellor against star tight end Rob Gronkowski could be the key, going up against Brady and Co. without Sherman and Thomas at full strength is a recipe for defeat.
Carroll doesn’t sound worried that his guys won’t come through.
“This is a group that has really committed to understanding what it takes from themselves and from the team and they have learned a lot,” he said. “So their expectations are very high because they know when they do things together, ain’t nothing we can’t do.”