It was a pregame celebration befitting a team over itself. Given one last chance to use Super Bowl XLVIII as reason to party, the Seahawks declined. They may have set an NFL record for the most nondescript unveiling of a championship banner.
The moment was simple, understated. It went by so fast you would’ve thought it was a Percy Harvin play.
After a highlight video, the Seahawks rushed onto the field as a team, no player introductions. The 2013 Super Bowl banner was presented in the rafters and on the field. A large, soccer-style tifo with an image of the Lombardi Trophy and the word “Champions” was draped over the north end-zone seats. And that was it.
No hugs. No tears.
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On Thursday night, amid the hype and music and festivities of the NFL season opener, the Seahawks proved what they have been saying for months. They want more. They’re not satisfied with one title. They became the youngest Super Bowl winner in NFL history last February, and they kept their core intact during the offseason. They’re having way too much fun to let up.
One game into the NFL season, the message has been sent. The Seahawks aren’t going anywhere.
In a 36-16 victory over Green Bay, the Seahawks debuted a faster, more athletic and more versatile team before an announced crowd of 68,424 at CenturyLink Field. They didn’t play a complete game. They weren’t as dominant as the score showed, and they made plenty of typical first-game mistakes. But they opened the year with as good an early-season whipping of a quality opponent as you’ll see.
The Packers are the NFC North favorite and a trendy Super Bowl pick. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers is still an elite player, running back Eddie Lacy is an emerging superstar and the Packers are tougher and more balanced than they’ve been in recent years. But they had no chance against the Seahawks on this night.
As cool as the Seahawks were in celebrating the Super Bowl one last time, they fed off the emotion of the night. They played with passion and vigor. In the second half, they exerted their dominance, and once again, they turned a marquee prime-time home game on national television into a rout.
It was impressive, but really, it was normal. This is what you expect of the Seahawks at home.
“It was a continuation,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. “We’ve been doing some good things in the preseason and the offseason. It’s a really good start for us.”
A continuation — you’ll hear Carroll describe the Seahawks’ performance in this way quite a bit. Since the turn of the century, he has become adept at motivating teams in this situation. It started at USC, where the Trojans annually lived up to expectations. Now in the NFL, the Seahawks have the talent and the belief in Carroll’s winning formula to repeat excellence.
Carroll doesn’t want to change. He wants to refine. He doesn’t believe the Seahawks have to play up to their new status, or prove their greatness. He just wants them to do the same thing over and over and compete against their own standard.
Despite a few new wrinkles — the 33-yard “pop pass” touchdown to Ricardo Lockette was a beauty — it was a familiar Seahawks victory. They dominated on the ground, rushing for 207 yards and 5.6 yards per carry. Marshawn Lynch, looking spry, finished with 110 yards and two touchdowns. Wide receiver Percy Harvin added a speed element; 41 of his 160 all-purpose yards came on fly-sweep runs. Russell Wilson was efficient, completing 19 of 28 passes for 191 yards, with two touchdowns and no interceptions. He threw the ball to eight different players.
As usual, the Seahawks defense controlled an explosive offense, holding the Packers to 255 total yards and 4.5 yards per play. Rodgers threw for just 189 yards and averaged 5.7 yards. He was under 5 yards per attempt until garbage time. Lacy rushed for just 34 yards and left the game early to be tested for a concussion.
“This is the Seattle Seahawks,” Rodgers said. “They’re a great defense. You don’t expect to move the ball effectively every down and on every drive.”
So much for a Super Bowl hangover.
“Everybody enjoyed the heck out of it over the summer,” Carroll said. “It was great. The whole offseason was a blast. Then, to kick it off like this with such a big gala affair … it’s really, really good stuff for us. We’re having a great time with it. I hope we can keep it going.”
The 2013 Seahawks championship banner now hangs in the CenturyLink Field rafters, the glory never to be forgotten. Sports tradition dictates its placement, but for a franchise with great ambition, you can’t ignore the symbolism.
The banner is easily visible, yet too high to touch. It is there to admire, to draw inspiration, but it’s too distant for much else. The past is out of reach.
But the present, oh, it’s right there for the Seahawks to take. And they’re reaching for it, reaching for more, reaching for better.