PHOENIX** – The Seahawks' wide receivers have been labeled this and they've been labeled that.
And most of the labels hung on them by former NFL wide-outs turned TV analysts have not been of the flattering variety. But Nate Burleson has added one that is accurate, and overdue.
"If you want to crown them with any type of title or name, you should also crown them as being the best-blocking wide receivers in the game," Burleson, who grew up in Seattle and played for the Seahawks from 2006-09, said on Wednesday night's edition of the NFL Network's "Super Bowl Live."
Doug Baldwin, the Seahawks' leading receiver, was caught off-guard when told of Burleson's comment.
"That's very honorable for him to say," Baldwin said Thursday during the players' final media session before Sunday's matchup against the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLIX at University of Phoenix Stadium.
"We appreciate that. All of us, the competitors that we are, we always feel like we can block better. But what we're called upon to do, in terms of blocking for Marshawn (Lynch), I would say we block more than a lot of receivers. I don't know if we're the best-blocking group in the league. But I appreciate that compliment."
The Seahawks did run the ball more than any team in the NFL during the regular season (525) except the Houston Texans (551), and they passed it fewer times (454) than any team in the league. In the postseason, the Seahawks have run the ball 63 times (second-most among the teams that played two games behind the Carolina Panthers, 71) and thrown it 52 times (second-fewest of the teams that played two games behind the Dallas Cowboys, 50).
"So we get a lot more practice at it than a lot of the guys around the league," Baldwin said.
And when it comes to blocking, it's a chicken-or-the-egg situation for the Seahawks wide receivers – a group that also includes Jermaine Kearse, who had the game-winning TD catches in the past two NFC Championship games; Ricardo Lockette, Kevin Norwood, Bryan Walters and Chris Matthews.
Do they block so well because they're asked to do it so much? Or are they asked to block so much because they do it so well?
"This group has really been exceptional," Tom Cable, who is the run-game coordinator in addition to being assistant head coach/offensive line coach, said last month. "Anything that goes beyond the second level, the linebacker level, is all on the receivers."
And Lynch, Russell Wilson and Robert Turbin have gone into and beyond that second level in league-leading fashion this season. The Seahawks led the NFL in explosive running plays (12-plus yards) during the regular season with 61 and they've added 20 in the postseason.
"That is 100 percent in relation to what the wide receivers are doing," Cable said. "Whether it's the quarterback keeping it on a read, whether it's a runner breaking out, it's doesn't matter. Those guys are so committed to our system of running the football.
"You don't see that everywhere. And I think that's the point. You watch defensive backs play us and they've looking because they know they're going to get whacked by those guys."
All of this is music to Lockette's ears, and brings a smile to his face.
"Wow," Lockette said when told of Burleson's comment. "For sure, I definitely appreciate that. Give a shout out to Nate. I definitely appreciate that, because we take pride in it.
"Cornerbacks don't just make interceptions, they make tackles. Receivers don't just catch balls, they block. So I think everybody's job has two sides to it. And I think the best defensive back corps and the best receiving corps can do both. Everybody has to play a part on every play. There's no need to have 11 guys on the field if you call a play and only nine of them are involved in it. We do whatever is asked on whatever play is called."
Lockette then paused briefly before adding the punchline: "That's how we got here."