Going the Rounds: Seattle’s chances on Sunday will fall to its defense


Although I’m a native Northwesterner, born and raised in Seattle, the following admission might establish me as a traitor to the Seahawk cause.

I don’t hate the Denver Broncos. Nor do I dislike the San Francisco 49ers.

Like most Northwest residents of a certain age, I grew up as a Niner fan — at a time when the Seahawks weren’t even a glimmer in the Nordstrom family’s eyes. To illustrate how long ago that was, John Brodie was the San Francisco quarterback, the legendary Hugh McElhenny was winding down his NFL career and Dan Fouts’ father (Bob Fouts) was the team’s play-by-play announcer.

While the 49ers no longer are my favorite NFL team, I’ve maintained my admiration for the franchise in general. I even regard Coach Jim Harbaugh’s sideline antics as more amusing than annoying — although sometimes they’re both.

I’ve never had the same degree of affection for the Broncos, Seattle’s erstwhile AFC West rivals. Steve Largent’s retaliatory hit on Denver defensive back Mike Harden in 1988, after the latter knocked him unconscious with a cheap shot earlier in the season, might be my all-time favorite Seahawk moment.

Yet I’ve always sort of liked Denver’s quarterbacks, from franchise icon John Elway to current signal-caller Peyton Manning.

My respect for Elway, a view assuredly not shared by the majority of Seahawk fans, stems from a single incident when the son of Hoquiam High grad Jack Elway was playing for Stanford University.

Near the end of a media interview following a Stanford loss to Washington at Husky Stadium, longtime Port Angeles writer/broadcaster Scooter Chapman began talking to John about his relationship with Jack Elway, who began his coaching career at Port Angeles High School (John was born in Port Angeles and spent a few childhood years on the Harbor while the elder Elway coached at Grays Harbor College).

This was the type of moment that most celebrities — particularly celebrities in a bad mood — handle poorly. Former Daily World Editor/Publisher John Hughes still has vivid memories of John Wayne abruptly turning away a pair of elderly Grays Harbor fans when the Duke was filming the police drama “McQ” in Aberdeen and Ocean Shores.

But Elway graciously fielded Scooter’s questions and even engaged in a brief private conversation with him after the group interview ended.

Seattle fans may have chortled when short-lived Seahawk linebacker Brian Bosworth taunted Elway by calling him “Mr. Ed.” Considering how their respective pro football careers developed, however, it was Elway who had the last horse laugh.

By all rights, I shouldn’t be offering a prediction on Sunday’s Seattle-Denver Super Bowl. That honor, such as it is, has traditionally gone to the winner of our Pro Football Forecasting Contest. Vidette reporter David Haerle beat me in a tiebreaker this past season.

I’m nevertheless making a pick because (a) I did tie Dave for season honors and (b) most readers wouldn’t understand why I would leave the forecasting chores exclusively to him.

To cut to the chase, I like Seattle’s chances. That’s based on three factors.

Seattle’s defense, in my view, is better equipped to handle pure pocket passers such as Manning and New Orleans’ Drew Brees than scrambling quarterbacks like San Francisco’s Colin Kaepernick or Indianapolis’ Andrew Luck. The Seahawks tied Peyton’s brother Eli into knots when they last visited East Rutherford, N.J., for a regular-season meeting with the New York Giants — although the deteriorating state of the Giant line makes that comparison dubious at best.

In any event, the better defensive team generally wins Super Bowls. To my mind, that’s Seattle.

All season long, the Hawks have been able to elevate their performance in big games, as evidenced by their impressive play in December’s Monday night game against New Orleans and in the second half against the 49ers in the NFC championship contest.

The final reason is harder to quantify. The Seahawks appear to possess a champion’s mojo.

They’ve been outplayed on several occasions this season, even by such inferior opponents as the Houston Texans and St. Louis Rams, but have generally found a way to pull out a victory.

A good second-half team, the Seahawks frequently have been slow to get their offense in gear. A worst-case scenario would be for Manning and Denver running back Knowshon Moreno to find a rhythm early and produce a hole too deep for the Hawks to escape.

That could happen, but I’m guessing Seattle’s defense will keep things close enough for a late comeback. I’m also counting on voluble Seahawk cornerback Richard Sherman to come up with a more creative nickname for Manning than “Mr. Ed.”

With Sherman or running back Marshawn Lynch earning game MVP honors and the media hounding Manning as to why he can’t win a big game (ignoring the previous Super Bowl he won with the Indianapolis Colts), let’s call it… Seahawks 23, Broncos 17.

Rick Anderson: (360) 537-3924 or email at randerson@thedailyworld.com.

 

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