BY Art Thiel 10:48PM 02/02/2014

Thiel: Seahawks saw the beatdown coming

Lashing the Broncos with ruthless hits and the amazing Percy Harvin, the Seahawks brought home the first major sports championship in 35 years.

The banner at MetLife Stadium said it all. / Corky Trewin, Seahawks

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. –Seattle 1, World 0.

For the Northwest sports fan, aggrieved after more than a third of of century of mediocrity, team departures and close-but-zippo shots at championships, the drama Sunday unfolded in an unexpected way: Quick, savage and relentless. That never happens in Seattle sports, which for so long has greeted the threat of success with something like, “You go ahead. We’ll be fine.”

If you’re into sports numerology, Seattle scored 12 seconds into the first half, and 12 seconds into the second half. For the long-suffering 12s, the symbolism goes beyond coincidence.

For the Seahawks players, the drama unfolded in a different way: It was exactly as they planned. That happened almost all the time with this team this season.

“To be honest with you, a lot of the players on this team expected this to be a dominant win,” said WR Doug Baldwin. “I say that with no disrespect to the Broncos. They probably thought that too; that’s how you get to a championship game.

“But the way we were prepared the last two weeks, there was no doubt in my mind. You saw us dominate defensively, force the pace on the ground, then make plays in passing game.”

They knew they would shred the Broncos. It was possible to sense some of it this week around the team. They were so calm, so certain. While the world blinked and stared in amazement at the MetLife Stadium scoreboard that read “Seahawks 43, Broncos 8,” the Seahawks walked onto the biggest stage in the media and sports world as if they owned it down to the last row of klieg lights.

“It was not even a question in their minds,” said coach Pete Carroll, “that we wouldn’t perform like this.”

They set a Super Bowl record for the fastest score. They set a Super Bowl record with 36 consecutive points to start a game (the old mark was 24). They were the second youngest team to play in a Super Bowl. And they brought thousands of believers from around the world, overwhelming the Broncos fans, to screw up the opponent in New Jersey as if it were a suburb of Seattle.

On the first play, Denver center Manny Ramirez (apparently no relation) snapped the ball past quarterback Peyton Manning into the end zone for a safety. It seemed as if the Seahawks defense lined up and said, “Boo!”

“It was real loud — none of us heard the snap count,” a bewildered Ramirez said. “I thought I did, and when I snapped the ball, I guess Peyton was actually trying to walk up to me at the time. It kind of put us on a back end right off the bat.”

It kind of did. After 2-0, it was 5-0, then 8-0 and 15-0 before the Broncos finally got a first down five minutes into the second quarter. And this was the most prolific single-season offense in the history of the NFL.

Turned out they were fakes. Frauds. Manning couldn’t throw a lick downfield and his receivers couldn’t take a lick.

On the Broncos’ second series, heralded receiver Demaryius Thomas caught a short crossing pass over the middle only to be clobbered back four yards by the chief boomer in the Legion of Boom, Kam Chancellor.

“We saw on film that they did most of their damage on yards after catch,” Chancellor said. “We knew they were going to catch the ball, and we wanted them to know right away they had to deal with us.”

The Broncos also had to deal with Percy Harvin right away. On the second scrimmage play, they ran a fly sweep play for Harvin that went for 30 yards after the blockers cleared most of New Jersey from his path. They used the play only one other time this season, but like the Chancellor hit, the Seahawks went with it early and hard to shock the Broncos into submission.

Given the respect with which Manning was held, it seemed too early to declare victory, but it was over after the first few series. Fans, viewers and advertisers who settled in for the drama the Super Bowl produced in recent seasons were left instead to ponder the immensity between the Seahawks and the rest of the NFL.

That was a tribute to Carroll, whose vision, enthusiasm and strategic skill directed a franchise to its first NFL championship, and the first in 19 years from a team in the Pacific time zone. And he did it in a town where he was fired 20 years earlier after a single season.

He did it with players that had some pedigree but was mostly mutt, that had a few vets but was mostly kids. He did it with the no-respect card that will never be used again with this team.

A teammate said Baldwin was so excited before the game that his gibberish couldn’t be understood. He was asked to explain.

“This Super Bowl appearance has been building since we were seven years old, when we first started playing football,” he said. “When you get to this game, and there’s still so much doubt and negativity against you, you can’t help but have that built up anger.

“What I was saying was we belong here, this is our opportunity. Our time. They owe us this opportunity to be in this position. But they weren’t going to give it to us; we had to take it.”

Take it? They nearly pulled the arms off the Broncos.

The Seahawks have had a quiet little slogan this season: Leave No Doubt.

Deed done.

As I made my way from interviews back to the press box through a stadium concourse near the locker rooms, a golf cart bearing Seahawks owner Paul Allen and his girlfriend started up to take him to his car.

Allen has owned the NBA Portland Trail Blazers since 1988, the Seahawks since 1997 and a part of the Sounders since 2009. He’s never had the championship experience. Walking alongside, I offered my congratulations.

He looked up, managing a weary grin, and said, “It’s an amazing feeling.”

In Seattle, no sports fan under 40 and no one new to town in the empty years has known the feeling.

Get used to it.


YourThoughts

  • PokeyPuffy

    an in your face win for the east coast media that overwhelmingly chose Manning and the broncos. Perhaps even David Stern took note in his first day of retirement from across the river

    • art thiel

      Stern cares nothing beyond his former gig. His former employees will testify to that.

  • cwu91

    Having put up with Bronco fans over the years (I was stationed with the 4th ID for a time in CO springs ) I have to say, this was perfect. Elway gets the 80′s on 8 experience, and Manning is left to wonder the wisdom of being so rigid as to not take a visit after the brain trust had flown down to see him.

    This postseason was analogous to the final 30 minutes of the Godfather.

    Settle all scores

    Congratulations to Hawk nation…..hell of a team, and one hell of a season.

    And NFL Champions

    • art thiel

      Well said, C-dub. They left the gun, and took the cannoli.

    • Kirkland

      I attended a Hawks-Broncos game in the Kingdome in 1997, and suffered through the insufferably condescending Broncos fans as Denver cruised. As the game ended, one disgustingly shrill woman yelled, “The Broncos are going to the Super Bowl! THE SEAHAWKS WILL NEVER GET THERE!!”

      To that woman … How you doing today? (evil grin)

      • art thiel

        She’s out there, weeping.

    • jafabian

      My wish list is da Raiders for the next Super Bowl. They owe us. And I want to drag out my Raiders Busters t-shirt also. And the game should be in Kansas City so we can say we’ve won there more than just once.

  • Long-Time Mariners Fan

    Dear Seattle Seahawks,

    Congratulations on your World Championship and bringing the trophy to Seattle. Call us when you win another one and then we’ll both have two!

    Sincerely, The Seattle Storm

    • art thiel

      Don’t change your number in the next year.

    • Kirkland

      Technically, the Seahawks aren’t “world” champions until the beat teams from other countries in a World Cup-like event. They’re just NFL/SB champions.

      Sincerely, The Saskatchewan Roughriders (2013 Grey Cup Champs)

      • Da Kid in Mexico

        Bring it on, Roughie! Can’t wait to see your all-airball-all-the-time, 3-down offense meet our secondary. Manning had four downs to work with and you saw where it got him. Cripes, you guys are so weak you play games that actually count in mid-summer! Oh,and your dollar is now worth only 92 cents American, eh? :)

        • Kirkland

          Actually, I’m a Seahawks fan. And I’m American. :)

          Come to think of it, how would the LOB do on a 65-yard-wide field, 12 yards wider than the NFL one?

        • oldfan

          “…so weak you play games that actually count in mid-summer!”
          Really? I find it weak that the NFL plays four games in summer that DON’T count and charges full price to see them.
          Obviously a CFL challenge is not real. You won’t find many players or coaches there that wouldn’t jump at the chance to go to the NFL if they could.
          FYI: I’m a live-long NFL and Seahawk fan. And an American too.

      • oldfan

        I sometimes cringe at the hyped up appellation “Worlds Champions” applied to pro sports that only the U.S. plays. But ’til some other nation jumps up to challenge it, I’ll can let it go.

      • jafabian

        The Super Bowl is basically the USA’s World Cup. And really, the Roughriders? If the Hawks played them, well, the Riders might when. Because the Hawks would fall over laughing.

    • jafabian

      I noticed FOX reported that the Sonics are the only other pro sport team that’s won a championship. Again the Storm get hosed. On national TV no less.

  • Gerald Turner

    Jim Gray had a radio interview with
    Russel Wilson aired just before the game, Rus said “I had all the
    kids at the camp write down their goals and dreams, and I would join
    them and write down that I want to win four super bowls.”
    What! O my, four super bowls? This guy is astonishing, can he really
    believe that?
    He does and it is infectious.

    All week at the store I told people;
    The real super bowl was the 49r game
    the top two teams are in the NFC brutal division , this will just be
    a mop up operation.
    The Seahawks destroy finesse teams, the
    only way to beat them is smash mouth toe to toe football.

    They did not understand, they do now.

    • art thiel

      The AFC apparently is Division II. Manning never had a chance. He set the worst SB record ever: Most completions in a game.

  • Will

    The Seahawks were cool, calm and ruthless in their beat down of the Broncos and every ‘hawk should’ve gotten an MVP trophy. After the nail biter with the 49ers, this game was the victory lap for an amazing season.

    • art thiel

      There was sentiment in the pressbox for an MVP — defense, as in the whole unit. They played ferociously and near perfectly.

      • domdog

        Talking with Seahawk fans here in Montana, every one loved the fact that there was no MVP really. After a moment of pause, trying to compute who would be that player on the hawks and experiencing their brain starting to freeze up they all bounced back with a big smile and an emphatic, ‘it’s the whole TEAM!/defense. From what I’ve seen people are fascinated with stars, what they Love is when people work together as a team.

  • Jared S.

    If you’re into sports numerology, Seattle scored 12 seconds into the first half, and 12 seconds into the second half.

    It was also the 12th playoff win in team history

    • Tim

      My wife pointed out excitedly that Harvin took his kick off return from exactly the 12 yard line. i looked again…seriously, this is getting weirder.
      Best game ever!

      • art thiel

        Stats say 13-yard line, but nobody in Seattle is counting.

    • art thiel

      Good point, Jared. It’s getting weird.

  • Eric K

    Everything about the Hawks the last two weeks has been like the Huskies getting ready for the ’85 Orange Bowl, they just had the quiet confidence of knowing they had this.

    I think people got caught up in the Manning mystique, if you looked at the history of top defenses in the Super Bowl and look at all the stats for the Seahawks and Broncos factoring in strength of schedule an easy Hawks win should have been expected. Obviously 43-8 is amazing, I figured something like 27-17.

    • art thiel

      Good analogy, Eric. I was there in Miami, and you are right. Thanks for the reminder.

  • oldfan

    43 to 8. Shut out the record setting offense for essentially three quarters. From now on, anytime someone uses the cliche – Defense Win Championships – they’ll point to this game.
    BTW: My 79 year old father winters in Ariz. All his neighbors are from Colorado or Utah. He’s taken a lot of good natured (and some not so) trash talk for two weeks. I know in the morning he’ll be walk around, shanking hands and patting guys on the shoulder saying, “It wasn’t that bad.” But he’ll have to biggest smile of any 12th man.

  • Its onlySports(DavidWakefield)

    Cris Carter was backtracking like the devil last night….Tom Jackson of ESPN predicted a 7 year dynasty like run for these guys~who cares that you shouldnt listen to these mutton heads?It was good to hear somebody finally talk in context to this built like a tank Team. They have the design and durability to last a spell thats why Arts last sentence of this article was Get used to it. You should.

    As Paul said?Its an amazing feeling. Cant wait til training camp!

    Go Hawks!

    • just passing thru

      I think all the talking heads were backtracking. On ESPN, only Strahan and Boomer picked the Hawks, 23-21.

      Weird, I’ve been telling folks since the 49ers game that that was the game I was worried about – not this one. But, still, unbelievable!!

      Yay ‘Hawks and Yay 12th Man – the whole world heard you both, loud and clear.

      • Its onlySports(DavidWakefield)

        Yup…our servicemen who followed us were really happy in places like Afghanistan last night. And like I said?Built like a tank? As in Sherman tank…these guys could be literally impenetrable for a number of seasons if they continue to live the “Im in” philosophy and most of these guys stay with us for the good of the team. If not Pete and John will just find a few more moveable parts. I think we might just be having alot of fun for the better part of this decade with Russ as our franchise QB and that defense. Enjoy!

      • art thiel

        In the post-game, Earl Thomas said that in reviewing Broncos film, they hadn’t seen a defense like Seattle’s all season. The AFC had a down year top to bottom. The NFC West was a Marine boot camp preparing the winner for anything.

    • art thiel

      TV pundit forecasting of things more than a day ahead is futile. So much changes, including the rules of the game. But as much as a team can do to sustain excellence, the Seahawks have done.

  • Matt712

    So, this is what the Seahawks are like when they’re all healthy. The Broncos were just completely outclassed. From the first snap, Seattle simply looked a step faster, an inch taller, and a pound bigger. John Fox, bless his heart, said after the game, “…We just ran into a buzz saw.” – one of my many favorite moments.

    • art thiel

      Fox was commendably honest and accurate.

  • Diamond Mask

    I’ve been feeling so confident over the last 2 weeks I actually felt guilty about it. Like I was jinxing us by thinking that way. But it was obvious from the start of the game that this Denver team wasn’t the SFO 49ers.

    The Front Seven rocked. The secondary shut them down. Kearse was amazing. Baldwin was amazing. Harvin was stupefying. Wilson was the Key Master and Carroll was the Gate Keeper. Just fantastic on every level.

    Now I got to go watch First Take and watch Stephen A and Skippy Bayless walk back their stupid picks and kiss our sweet bottoms.

  • jafabian

    I’m thrilled that Carroll was able to get a ring before Harbaugh as well as to win on the Jets home field. Publicly he’ll probably say those are non-issues to him but still a nice little caveat to remember.

    Absolutely a perfect game. I don’t know what the Broncos could have done differently. I felt good about this game because the Broncos offense was pass heavy which played into the Hawks strengths. Live by the sword, die by the sword.

    I remember I once read how Magic Johnson was told by Jerry West that when he won his first championship he couldn’t call himself a champion, that he only won a championship instead. That he could begin to call himself a champion when he won it again. I can’t wait to start chanting REPEAT next season! Is the Sonics old song “Second Time Around” available for play by the Seahawks?

    • art thiel

      Great reminder about West and Johnson. Exactly right. Repeat winners in the NFL are rare. Not impossible, but rare.

  • Huskydwj

    Two best teams played two weeks ago. The Super Bowl was only a formality. Though I believe in Carroll’s formula/system/mantra, its clear that there are other ways to win in today’s NFL – cite our NFC brotheren. I guess those six seasonal challenges will keep us challenged, and non-complacent.

    Great summary as always, Art. Glad you get the chance to tell the tale!

    Congrats to an awesome team – we love you guys! No one can ever take this from you or us.

    Always and forever – GO HAWKS!!!

    • Eric K

      Best line I heard was someone said the Seahawks won the title two weeks ago, yesterday was the victory lap

      • Will

        it was me … and thank you for the thumbs-up.

    • Huskydwj

      (NFC WEST brotheren!! A bit slow this morning…..)

  • Joe Fan

    I’m a lifelong Seahawk fan from the beginning. I am so, so happy and proud of our team. What an unbelievable day and game. Thanks to Pete Carroll and everyone in Seahawk organization who made this happen. Last summer I read Pete’s book “Win Forever”. Its an easy read and I recommend it to all Seahawk fans.

  • Its onlySports(DavidWakefield)

    How about a big hell yah that we made sure the referees couldn’t be a factor in this game….there was absolutely no doubt these guys were going to bring the hardware home by the 3rd or 4th score. The long suffering 12s should scale that billboard in Fife and hang a SEATTLE SEAHAWKS ~WORLD CHAMPIONS 2014 BANNER over that obnoxious piece of work and we should send a thank you note to the SF Chronicle(thanking their peeps) for helping motivate us with that zero thing of theirs….zero alcohol in my system and i feel like i am punch drunk giddy after last night. God Bless Paul Allen for his vision to bring in Pete and John. Go Hawks next year!

    • oldfan

      No bad refs, no bad weather, no controversies. No excuses for Bronco fans, Colin Kaepernick, or any other Seahawk hater to use. We crushed them with our “weak” DBs, “overrated” QB, and “cheater” coach. And it feels good!

  • Da Kid in Mexico

    Speaking to those under 40… or under 50, for that matter:

    In 1960, the substantially unheralded UW Huskies went to Rose Bowl with a one-eyed Bob Schloredt at QB. Nobody gave them a chance against heavily favored Wisconsin. (You know Wisconsin — the school that 53 years later gave us a 5’11″ QB everybody but Pete Carroll thought was “too small” to play in the NFL.)

    Final score? UW 44, Badgers 8.

    Thus began the Jim Owens era.

    The next morning the headline in the P-I read, “Beat ‘em? We annihilated ‘em!” I tore it out and pasted it on my wall.

    So here ya go, Denver. A little annihilation payback for the Elway years. I just wish the Hawks had scored one more point so I could have matching tear sheets.

  • SeattlePete

    Hey Art,

    What a great feeling to see the Seahawks bring home the Lombardi. Wow!

    My blushing bride and I moved to Seattle in 1983 and with great regret
    moved to the East coast in 1999 (aging parents, family responsibilities,
    you do what you gotta do).

    I was a regular reader of your columns in those years, and the first thing I thought this morning was “I gotta read what Art Thiel has to say about this!”

    Man, you are so right about how amazing this feels, especially in contrast to those empty years. And folks, boy oh boy were there some empty years. The Seahawks…the Mariners…the Kingdome…oh, we suffered.

    Art, I gotta say, you were instrumental in getting me through some of
    the empty years between ’83 and ’99. No matter what happened, no matter how much things sucked, I knew I could count on an insightful and pretty much dead-nuts-on-the-money column from you.

    I’d also read Steve Kelly in the Times, but more for a regular dose of hyperbole than anything else! Ha!

    Best of luck with SportspressNW! I’ll be back for more!

    Pete Watson

  • Will Ganschow

    Good column for such a new experience. The competition in the NFL is enormous yet that said, Carroll has shown both at USC and now here that he’s got the thingy. Nice mention of Allen

  • tedsfrozenhead

    “Fakes & Frauds” I don’t think so. The Broncos record setting offense simply got their butts handed to them