By Matthew Asher
Last year’s Super Bowl featured one of the best offensives in NFL history against one of the best defenses in NFL history. It’s cliched, but it’s true that “defense wins championships,” as Seattle destroyed Denver, claiming their first Super Bowl trophy in the process. While this year’s team hasn’t been getting nearly the amount of praise last year’s team did, this is still a very capable defense-oriented team that can win two titles in a row.
It’s not just the defense
Like any team built for the postseason, the Seahawks aren’t a one-dimensional team that only relies on its defense to win games. Seattle’s offense isn’t setting any records, but Russell Wilson and company have been reliable and consistent throughout the season. Actually, the only part of Seattle’s offense that isn’t ranked in the top third of the league is their passing yards per game. Regarding points scored, total yards and rushing yards, the Seahawks rank in the top 10 in all three categories.
The main reason for this success? Lack of turnovers. Seattle finished the regular season at plus-10 in the turnover department, the fourth-best in the NFL this season. Wilson has thrown just seven interceptions against 20 touchdown passes. He’s also added six rushing touchdowns, giving him 26 total this season.
Of course, when talking about Seattle’s offense, Marshawn Lynch must always be included in the conversation. Beast Mode certainly was on display in the final few weeks of the season, even with Lynch reportedly being sick during several of those games. Lynch finished the season with 1,673 total yards of offense (1,306 rushing, 367 receiving) and 17 total touchdowns (13 rushing, 4 receiving). Lynch actually led the team in both rushing and receiving touchdowns despite catching 29 fewer passes than team leader Doug Baldwin.
The defense is still important
While the rest of the league is getting more careful when throwing against the Legion of Boom, Seattle’s secondary has recorded enough interceptions to keep their team in every game. Richard Sherman led the team with four interceptions, which is impressive mainly because several games this season opponents never threw the ball near Sherman. As a unit, the Seahawks picked off 13 passes. Bruce Irvin’s two interceptions both went for touchdowns and were the only pick sixes Seattle recorded this year.
Consistent special teams play
The often overlooked section of the game, special teams, is one Seattle does equally well. Nearly half of punter Jon Ryan’s 61 kicks have been downed inside the 20-yard line. Only six of Ryan’s punts have been touchbacks, meaning he’s very good with ball placement, and his long this season was a 66-yard punt. He’s also had one punt blocked this season. Placekicker Steven Hauschka is a perfect 20-20 on field goals within 39 yards. He’s struggled a little on further kicks as he’s 11-17 (65 percent) on kicks from 40 yards and beyond but
So while Seattle gets a week off to rest and find out their Divisional Round opponent, it’s important to remember that this team is still very capable of repeating last season’s ending with another Super Bowl trophy. Enjoy the week off!
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Matthew Asher is a freelance journalist. From an early age, sports have played a major role in his life. He graduated from Emory University with a B.A. in Journalism. After college he spent 2 years working with CNN Sports and still occasionally writes sports articles for several publications both in the United States and Canada. His work can be found on Examiner.com.