The basking is over. The battle has begun.
Seahawks fans were in full-throated form as the team Thursday began its quest to defend Seattle’s only NFL Championship with a 36-16 victory over the Green Bay Packers.
“This is exactly the way I saw it going down,” said fan Alton Jenkins of Tacoma, as the Hawks pulled away in the fourth quarter. “We’ve got some energy carried over from the Super Bowl season.”
“I could see another Super Bowl coming,” said Jenkins, who has had season tickets in his family for more than 30 years. But echoing Seahawks coach Pete Carroll, Jenkins added, “They have to take it one game at a time.”
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The nationally televised game at CenturyLink Field capped a mammoth civic celebration that was part street fair, part pep rally and part free concert. The extravaganza taxed the ability of transit services to get people into the Pioneer Square area, and at least one parking lot near the stadium was charging upward of $100 a space.
Just before the game, a 30-yard-wide banner was unfurled at midfield, proclaiming Seattle’s Super Bowl title.
Even when Green Bay led 7-3 at the end of the first quarter, true blue fans didn’t panic.
“It’s all good. All good,” said fan Floyd Lively of Seattle. “You don’t want to whip on Green Bay. You want to keep it interesting and then shut them down at the end.”
As if on his cue, the Hawks marched for a quick second-quarter touchdown, taking a 10-7 lead.
Fan confidence grew as the Hawks built a 17-10 lead at the half. On a halftime break, Sue Martin of Everett, said, “We’re OK. We’re fine. I’m not 100 percent excited yet, because there’s room for improvement.”
“But we know we’re going to win,” chimed in Martin’s mother, Judy Bradley. “There’s no question about that.”
Martin said she’s well aware of the challenge the Seahawks face in trying for a rare Super Bowl sequel. “It’s like all of a sudden, everyone hates our guts.”
With the Seahawks game inaugurating the 2014 season, fans showed up as long as 12 hours before kickoff to see radio and TV network live broadcasts from the Pioneer Square area.
For several blocks north of the stadium, fans could visit dozens of booths, get their photos taken with logos of their favorite teams and try tossing a pass to the image of a receiver on the screen. Younger fans could run a football-camp-style obstacle course.
The impact of Seattle’s Super Bowl crown has transcended the sport, said Brenda Poskitt of Snoqualmie, a season-ticket holder since 2002. “It has brought a lot of camaraderie and joy to the whole area.” Her husband puts up a “12th Man” flag at their house every day.
For some sports fans, she said, it has taken some of the sting out of losing Seattle’s NBA team.
North of the stadium, Brian Hale was doing a brisk business in Seahawks gear at his Gameday Sports Shop. Favorite items included the $14 arm warmers, though they were hardly needed as the temperature rose into the 70s.
Asked to predict the outcome before Thursday’s game, Hale said Seahawks, 43-8, borrowing that result from the Hawks’ Super Bowl victory over Denver.
Hale knows the Seahawks are bound to lose a game sooner or later. And when that happens, “We’ll bear down and I feel sorry for the next team we play.”
Fan Art Graddy of Seattle, arriving in full Seahawks regalia — including two capes — predicted the Seahawks would win 35-17. But win or lose Thursday night, Graddy said the Seahawks’ focus will quickly turn to their next game.
“It’s the way Pete Carroll has them,” he said. “They’re always looking forward.”
Jack Broom: firstname.lastname@example.org or 206-464-2222