The Seattle Seahawks are favored to repeat as champions in Super Bowl XLIX, per multiple reports.
The Seattle Seahawks are favored to repeat as champions in Super Bowl XLIX.
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This is because Seattle clinched both the NFC West title and the NFC's best record with a 20-6 win over the visiting St. Louis Rams on Dec. 28, per Tony Drovetto of the Seahawks' official website. Seattle is the first squad to repeat as the NFC's No. 1 seed in 11 seasons since the 2003 Philadelphia Eagles.
Drovetto drew up the official 2014 NFC playoff scenario:
- Seattle Seahawks (12-4)
- Green Bay Packers (12-4)
- Dallas Cowboys (12-4)
- Carolina Panthers (7-8-1)
- Arizona Cardinals (11-5)
- Detroit Lions (11-5)
With this, the Sehawks and the second-seeded Green Bay Packers will draw a bye during Wild Card weekend. The protagonsits for the said game slate are No. 6 Detroit at No. 3 Dallas and No. 5 Arizona at No. 4 Carolina, per Drovetto.
Seattle head coach Pete Carroll told the fans (via Seahawks.com) the team regrets not being able to play for them during their postseason bye week. He said,"Sorry we don't get to play next week. We'll get back at in a couple of weeks and crank it back up."
The Seahawks have now won six in a row, serving notice they are the team to beat once again. Clare Farnsworth of the Seahawks' official website stresses defense once again ruled the day for Seattle in the Week 17 win over St. Louis.
Both teams got off to a slow start, with two tree-and-outs on both sides of the field to begin the game. The only points of the quarter came on a Greg Zuerlein 33-yard field goal to give the Rams a 3-0 lead. Prior to the field goal, St. Louis was able to spot the ball at midfield after the Seahawks' Ricardo Lockette was flagged for a roughness penalty on punt returner Tavon Austin, per Farnsworth.
Seattle remained scoreless at the half. According to Farnsworth, the team had a chance to put points on the board on its first possession of the second quarter, but quarterback Russell Wilson overthrew a pass intended for Paul Richardson. Rams cornerback Marcus Roberson stepped in to intercept the pass and returned the ball to his team's 40-yard line. After forcing a three-and-out in the Rams' final possession of the first quarter, the Seahawks came through again by stopping St. Louis on fourth down.
However, Seattle remained sloppy on offense. As soon as it got the ball back, running back Marshawn Lynch fumbled the football on his team's own 34-yard line. Once the Rams got the ball back, they padded their lead to six after Zuerlin came through with his second field goal of the game, per Farnsworth.
The Seahawks and Rams exchanged another series of three-and-outs before the former had another chance to end their scoring drought as the first half drew to a close. Seattle moved the ball to St. Louis' 37-yard line before Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald sacked Wilson, who eventually fumbled. According to Farnsworth, the Seahawks recovered in time for one last play before halftime. Wilson passed the ball to wide receiver Doug Baldwin for 38 yards, but that's about as close as Seattle would get in the first 30 minutes of play.
Seattle finally broke its dry spell when Steven Hauschka kicked a 42-yarder to put the team on the board in the third quarter at 6-3. After forcing yet another three-and-out -- their fourth of the game -- the Seahawks drove the ball 42 yards downfield. Hauschka then nailed his second field goal of the game to knot the count at 6 apiece, per Farnsworth.
Seahawks defensive tackle Jordan Hill then picked off Rams quarterback Shaun Hill on St. Louis' first possession of the fourth quarter. Seattle made its opponent pay for the costly miscue by marching the ball 54 yards downfield. The Seahawks' then capped their drive on a nine-yard touchdown run by Lynch to give them their very first lead of the contest, says Farnsworth.
The Rams sealed their fate with another error on their next possession. Bobby Wagner tipped Hill's pass intended for Lance Kendricks. Seahawks linebacker Bruce Irvin caught the ball and returned it 49 yards the other way for a pick-six to make it 20-6 in Seattle's favor. St. Louis had a chance to inch closer after it managed to spot the ball on the Seahawks' 6-yard line. However, Farnsworth says Earl Thomas' hit on Benny Cunningham forced a fumble. Seattle recovered the ball in the end zone for a touchback.
In spite of Seattle's unsuccessful ensuing possession, two sacks by O'Brien Schoefield and Irvin all but ended the Rams' fading hopes, per Seahawks.com.
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