Seahawks.com passes out its annual end-of-the-season honors:
Marshawn Lynch. Where to begin with everything that the Seahawks' Beast Mode back contributed? He had career-highs in rushing touchdowns (13) and receiving touchdowns (four) to lead the NFL with 17 touchdowns – the only player in franchise history to do that other than Shaun Alexander during his league MVP season in 2005. Lynch had the second-best statistics of his career in rushing yards (1,306), per-carry average (4.7) and receptions (37). And then he led the league during the postseason with 318 rushing yards. But with Lynch, it's never just what he did, it's also very much about the way he did it. How best to describe what Lynch means to the Seahawks? Leave it to Michael Robinson, Lynch's lead-blocking fullback from 2010-13 and now an analyst for the NFL Network. "Marshawn totally embodies what Pete Carroll's philosophy is and what he wants the identity of that team to be. Just Marshawn's story – how he got to the league and all the struggles he's been through – Pete loves players who have a story, a unique story. There's something more about them than just the physical attributes. And again, Marshawn is just that."
Best defensive player
Bobby Wagner. The All-Pro trio of cornerback Richard Sherman, free safety Earl Thomas and strong safety Kam Chancellor had big seasons, but not as statistically big as in 2013. Linebacker K.J. Wright led the team in tackles during the regular season. But Wagner's still-on-the-rise game took the biggest leap, as he was voted to the Pro Bowl and All-Pro for the first time and also named NFC Defensive Player of the Month for December. But the most-telling indication of what Wagner provides from the middle linebacker spot is the fact the his return to the lineup after missing five games at midseason with a toe injury coincided with the eight-game winning streak that almost reached nine in the Super Bowl. Wagner plays the run (104 tackles in 11 regular-season games and a team-high 31 in the postseason). He plays the pass (three passes defensed in the regular season and an interception in the Super Bowl). He rushes the passer (two sacks). He makes plays from sideline to sideline.
Best offensive player not named Marshawn Lynch
Russell Wilson. The team's third-year quarterback hurt opponents with his arm (26 TD passes, including the postseason) and his legs (849 rushing yards and six rushing TDs). In the win over the Washington Redskins in Week 5, he became the first player in the 45-year history of "Monday Night Football" to run for at least 100 yards (122) and pass for at least 200 yards (201) in the same game. Two weeks later, Wilson became the first player in the 95-year history of the NFL to pass for at least 300 yards (313) and run for at least 100 yards (106) in the same game. He also threw the game-winning TD passes in overtime in the Week 3 Super Bowl XLVIII rematch with the Denver Broncos and the NFC Championship game against the Green Bay Packers.
The defense. This unit continued to build its legacy one play, one tackle, one series, one game at a time. They became only the third defense in NFL history to lead the league in average points allowed for three consecutive seasons, and the first since the Minnesota Vikings in 1969-71. They became only the fourth team in NFL history to lead the league is average yards allowed and average points allowed in back-to-back seasons, and the first since the Chicago Bears in 1985-86. They also allowed the fewest explosive plays in the league. But they were at their ballot-box-stuffing best during the six-game winning streak to end the regular season when the Seahawks' defense allowed an average of 6.5 points per game, a total of three touchdowns and pitched a shutout in the fourth quarters of those games.
Best special teams player
Jon Ryan.Kicker Steven Hauschka had another impressive season with 134 points – which tied for the third-highest total in franchise history. But Ryan not only continued to kick the Seahawks out of holes and opponents into holes with his combination of power and directional punting, he threw a TD pass to rookie tackle Garry Gilliam on a fake field goal for the Seahawks' first TD in the NFC Championship game, ran for a first down on a fake field goal against the Redskins and got off a 79-yard punt on a free kick following a safety against the Broncos.
Justin Britt. He started all 16 regular-season games and two of the three playoff games at right tackle, after being selected in the second round of the NFL Draft to replace Breno Giacomini after the incumbent starter signed with the New York Jets in free agency. Wide receiver Paul Richardson made a late, mini-push to enter this one-man race. But after he was lost for the season to a knee injury in the playoff opener against the Carolina Panthers, it was back to being Britt – from start to finish.
Best free-agent addition
Kevin Williams.After playing 11 seasons with the Minnesota Vikings, and being voted to six Pro Bowls, Williams signed with the Seahawks thinking he would work in the defensive line rotation at the three-technique tackle spot and hopefully make it to his first Super Bowl. But when nose tackle Brandon Mebane was lost for the rest of the season to a hamstring injury in the Week 10 romp over the New York Giants, Williams moved to the nose – for the first time in his career – and was credited with helping the defense accomplished all the impressive things it did down the stretch.
Best performance by an assistant coach
Tom Cable. He has a lot of titles – assistant head coach, offensive line coach, running game coordinator. And Cable delivered in each role. The Seahawks not only led the NFL in rushing, they did it with a franchise-record 2,762 yards. And they also led the league in rushing touchdowns with 20. And they did all this despite using four starting centers during the regular season – Max Unger (six games), Patrick Lewis (four) and Lemuel Jeanpierre and Steve Schilling (three each) – and eight different starting combinations on the line, including playoffs.
That average of 6.5 points allowed during the six-game winning streak to end the season. The style points come from the fact that the Seahawks did not allow a fourth-quarter point in those six games. It just doesn't get any better than that, although the Seahawks leading the league in explosive plays made (135) and allowed (76) during the regular season comes pretty darn close. And while we're at it, honorable mention to the Seahawks turning the ball over a franchise-record low 14 times during the regular season.
130 for 1,009 yards. That's penalties against the Seahawks and wrong-way yards because of them during the regular season. The Seahawks' opponents were penalized a combined 70 times for 613 yards. And that's a discrepancy that could prompt thoughts of a conspiracy.
The Seahawks allowed a league-high 11 touchdown passes to tight ends during the regular season. This one was making the rounds in the weeks leading up to the Super Bowl because of Rob Gronkowski, the New England Patriots' All-Pro tight end. But of those 11 TD passes allowed to tight ends, nine came in the first six games and two came in the last 10 games.
So many from which to choose. Runs. Passes. Interceptions. Ryan's highlight reel on special teams. Bruce Irvin's pair of pick-sixes. But without a sequence of improbable plays at the end of regular and in overtime of the NFC Championship game, there would not have been a return trip to the Super Bowl for the Seahawks. It started with Wilson's 1-yard TD run with 2:09 to play, cutting the Packers' lead to 19-14. It continued with Chris Matthews recovering Hauschka's onside kick, which allowed Lynch to score on a 24-yard run and Wilson to loft a two-point conversion pass to Luke Willson to give the Seahawks a needed three-point lead with 1:19 to play. After the Packers drove to a game-tying field goal to force overtime, Wilson ended the game with his 35-yard TD pass to Jermaine Kearse.
The one that just wouldn't go away during the regular season was Tony Romo converting on third-and-20 with his sideline pass to not Dez Bryant or even Jason Witten, but Terrance Williams in the Week 6 game against the Dallas Cowboys at CenturyLink Field. It allowed the Cowboys to drive to the game-winning touchdown, and DeMarco Murray to surpass 100 rushing yards for the sixth consecutive game. But that was erased by the Seahawks' final play of the Super Bowl, when Patriots' rookie cornerback Malcolm Butler intercepted Wilson's pass that was intended for Ricardo Lockette at the goal line with 20 seconds to play and the Seahawks trailing by four points. As Carroll put it, "It was the worst result of a call ever. The call would have been a great one if we'd caught it. It would have been just fine and nobody would have thought twice about it. We knew we were going to throw the ball one time in the sequence somewhere, and so we did, and it just didn't turn out right."
It's an All-Pro two-fer and involves Sherman and Thomas, and Chancellor. First Sherman, on what Chancellor brings to the Seahawks' secondary: "We're a bunch of wild dogs until the big lion comes in and then we're bad. We're some bad men with him around. He just brings that menacing force. We're a bunch of wild dogs. And a pack of wild dogs is pretty dangerous, but a lion running with a pack of wild dogs? That's something."
Then there was Thomas' reaction when asked about Sherman's quote: "I think Sherm got that line from me. That's how I talk. So any time you hear Sherm talking bold like that, he definitely got that from me."