Record defence is why Seattle will repeat
PHOENIX (AP):The sideshow is over, which means Marshawn Lynch can go back to not talking and this realisation can become obvious again: The Seattle Seahawks are still the best defensive team in football.
And as we saw in last year's Super Bowl, defence still usually wins.
"We've got a lot of big-name guys, but you would never know because they work like they're just average players," Seattle linebacker Bruce Irvin said.
"They never let the starting get to their head and I think that's the biggest difference. Guys always come to work ready to work. I think that separates us from a lot of teams, that we practise our tails off."
Therein lays the challenge in Seattle's attempt today to become the first team in a decade to win back-to-back Super Bowl titles facing New England. For as important a role as Lynch might end up playing, whether Seattle is lifting a second straight Lombardi Trophy will be dictated by their defence.
The outcome is certainly deeper than just how Seattle play defensively. Have Seattle fully recovered emotionally from the NFC title game and their remarkable comeback against Green Bay just to get to the Super Bowl?
Can Russell Wilson be an effective passer against a New England secondary that, with Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner, is far better than the one Wilson faced as a rookie? And where is Lynch's head after a week where he was the centre of attention?
The difference is Seattle's defence has shown it's capable of overcoming those problems to win games.
The only evidence needed is what the Seahawks did in the NFC Championship game. Three times in the first half, the Packers took possession inside the Seattle 35 and came away with only nine points. That defence allowed the Seahawks to hang around long enough to post its late rally.
There is a reason Seattle is being mentioned in the same category as the 'Purple People Eaters', the 'Steel Curtain', and the 'Monsters of the Midway'.
They have accomplished statistical feats that haven't been seen in nearly 30 years. The best scoring defence. The best at stopping the pass. The best overall.
All they need is another Super Bowl title to add credence to their status.
"People hate us because, you know, when you talk a lot of smack, people usually hate you," Seattle defensive end Michael Bennett said. "But when you talk a lot of smack and you back it up, they hate you even more."
So how does Seattle earn a second title with their defence? By not giving up big plays. They allowed only 39 plays of 20 or more yards the entire regular season and just 17 of those in the final eight games.
And that's not the strength of the Patriots. New England ranked 26th in the league in offensive plays of 20 or more yards.
Make the Patriots move in small chunks. Get to Tom Brady just enough to throw off his timing. Make sure LeGarrette Blount and the New England run game doesn't get started. And keep Rob Gronkowski from taking over the game.
Sounds like a lot. But if successful, Seattle will be put in a position to do what no team has done before because of the way it's been constructed.
Prediction: Seahawks 23, Patriots 19