Close calls or let ’em play?
Seattle’s first Super Bowl appearance in 2006 is remembered largely for a few controversial calls that didn’t go the Seahawks’ way. And how the game is officiated could go a long way toward dictating Seattle’s success in this one, as well, especially when it comes to the Seahawks secondary. There was much media attention in the lead-up to the game on the physical nature of the Legion of Boom. The Seahawks were called for pass interference 13 times in the regular season, tied for the most in the NFL, part of an NFL-high 128 penalties overall. However, Seattle has not had a defensive pass-interference call in the playoffs. That includes the New Orleans game, when the Saints threw 43 passes. The referee for that game was Terry McAulay, who will be the referee Sunday. Both sides will be watching intently to see how the game is called early.
Can Beast Mode feast?
Marshawn Lynch’s distaste for interviews has been a much-discussed topic. Now, though, comes a setting Lynch has usually found comfortable — a postseason game. Lynch has been at his best in the playoffs this year, breaking the 100-yard mark in each game, with 249 yards on 50 carries, an average of 5 yards per attempt, compared to 4.2 in the regular season. With temperatures that figure to dip into the 30s and a desire to keep Manning and the Denver offense off the field, the Seahawks will want to unleash their Beast Mode often. A key to that effort will be whether center Max Unger can move Denver defensive tackle Terrance “Pot Roast’’ Knighton out of the way enough to make room for Lynch to run between the tackles.
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The red zone a dead zone
It has been well-publicized that Seattle has the No. 1 defense in the NFL and the Broncos the No. 1 offense. But those rankings stand even when you dip into deeper stats, such as red-zone offense and defense. The Broncos led the NFL, scoring touchdowns on 76 percent of their possessions inside an opponent’s 20 (51 of 67), while the Seahawks led the NFL in allowing opponents to score touchdowns on just 36 percent of possessions inside the 20 (13 of 36).