What you need to know about the Seahawks before Super Bowl XLIX
The Seattle Seahawks are trying to become the NFL's first repeat champion since the 2003 and 2004 seasons. And it just so happens that the last team to win consecutive titles is the team the Seahawks will play in Super Bowl XLIX.
This is the second straight year that the top seeds in the play-offs are meeting in the Super Bowl and the Seahawks easily dispatched the Denver Broncos last year in a 43-8 thumping. Last year's victory was Seattle's first Super Bowl title after losing to Pittsburgh in Super Bowl XL.
Here we take a closer look at the Seahawks ahead of Sunday's showdown:
On the offense
The Seahawks have lost some players from last year's team, either through free agency or injuries, but the core players on both sides of the ball return. The offense centers around running back Marshawn Lynch, who ran for 1,306 yards and 13 touchdowns to lead the NFL's top rushing attack. Seattle's offense is more than just Lynch and his "Beast Mode", though. Back-up rushers Robert Turbin and Christine Michael combined for nearly 500 yards in the regular season. But it might be quarterback Russell Wilson who makes the offense the most dangerous.
"I"m honestly trying to give the ball to Marshawn Lynch 99 per cent of the time. That one percent I"ll take if it"s just wide open for me. I want to feed the beast," said Wilson, who was second on the team with 849 rushing yards and six touchdowns. The third-year quarterback also threw for 3,475 yards and 20 touchdowns during the regular season. Wilson has added 477 passing yards and four scores during the play-offs.
"He has tremendous presence and awareness and habits and character and smarts, and athleticism," said Seattle coach Pete Carroll, who coached the Patriots from 1997-99. "He's a tremendous study for anybody and a kid that has tremendous ability, tremendous potential, great competitive spirit and also the results to back that up."
And the defense?
The Seahawks have reached the Super Bowl in consecutive seasons without having a 1,000-yard receiver something almost unheard of in today's pass-happy NFL. But it's the other side of the ball where the Seahawks have made their mark.
Seattle had the NFL's best defense in terms of total yards allowed, points allowed and pass defense in the regular season. Although defensive end Michael Bennett said they have the best defense in the league's history, the "spokesman" of the defense is Pro Bowl cornerback Richard Sherman.
"We kind of always buckle down to an extent but we"re also pretty loose as a group, so we never take things too serious," Sherman said of Super Bowl week on Tuesday. "It"s not like, Oh man, we"re going to get into serious football mode." We"re always in serious football mode. We"re always focused on learning our opponent and getting better, and getting ready for the game.
"It"s a great challenge for us and anybody who"s ever been an elite competitor or an elite player enjoys those moments against other great players. It brings the best out of you. I think we as a group and as a team enjoy going against an elite team because it brings the best out of us."