Football / Sports

Super Bowl champion Seahawks appear built to last

NEW YORK -- Seattle coach Pete Carroll has a warning for the rest of the National Football League.

His Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks won't be a one-year wonder.

The Seahawks, who vanquished Denver 43-8 in Super Bowl XLVIII on Sunday night, finished 2013 as the NFL's seventh-youngest team, averaging 26 years, 142 days.

And they're built to last, with a second-year quarterback in Russell Wilson, 25, the third-youngest QB to win a Super Bowl (behind Ben Roethlisberger and Tom Brady) and a lineup filled with young talent such as third-year linebacker Malcolm Smith, the Super Bowl MVP.

"We are in a very fortunate situation," Carroll said at a Monday morning news conference. "(General manager) John Schneider did a great job of structuring this roster contractually and a vision of looking ahead, so we keep our guys together.

"So often, teams have a big fallout after they win the Super Bowl. We're not in that situation. We've done that with foresight so we will be prepared."

The Seahawks, who led the NFL in total defense and in takeaways, created four turnovers and won Sunday by the largest margin of any of their 16 victories during the regular season and postseason.

"We were really ready for the opportunities," Carroll said. "We seized the night. Whenever you play turnover football like that, like we play ... It's the formula we try to live by. You get four turnovers, they get none, the game is going to go that way."

Carroll said he and Schneider look for specific qualities in defensive backs to fit the formula.

"We've been coaching in this style and formula for a long time," said Carroll, who has taken the Seahawks to the playoffs in three of his four seasons in Seattle. "We've always wanted big guys and physical guys, but if you can't run, you can't play for us, so we've fortunately found guys who are big and fast.

"The cool thing is that they're growing up together. We're going to try to keep these guys together as best we can, so that we can keep playing with them and run along with them as we go."

Carroll, who joined former Dallas Cowboys coaches Jimmy Johnson and Barry Switzer as the only men to win college football national championships and a Super Bowl, said the roots for this title were established during his time at Southern California, where he won two college crowns.

"This is exactly what we envisioned from Day One," Carroll said. "We were going to be right here and win this football game ... in the fashion that we were able. We deserved it and we earned it because this is exactly what we've been preparing for, and we expected it."

"That may sound cocky. That may sound arrogant," he said. "But it's a mentality you can't get in one week. It comes from a very strict, disciplined approach. It was very similar to the Oklahoma game (in the Orange Bowl for the 2004 title). This game was very similar to the multiple Rose Bowl championship games. It felt like it. It looked like it. The score was like it.

"The offense, the defense, the special teams. So, something's going on. I really can't tell you exactly what it is but something's going on, because I sat back there at the end of the first quarter and said, 'Shoot, here it goes.' The score. Bang, bang, bang, bang, and it's 22-0 at halftime. There's a lot to it and we're very proud of it. And I'm thrilled that we've seen it in one area and we've been able to bring it to the NFL and recreate it."

Smith, one of Carroll's players at Southern California, had two of the four takeaways Sunday night. He returned an interception 67 yards for a back-breaking touchdown, recovered a fumble, was credited with nine tackles and even made a tackle on special teams.

Smith was a seventh-round draft pick in 2011 and was not even invited to the NFL Scouting Combine. But he's typical of the players Carroll brings to Seattle.

"It was extraordinary to see (undrafted wide receivers) Jermaine Kearse score a touchdown, and Doug Baldwin score a touchdown, and Malcolm gets in the end zone and scoops up a fumble," Carroll said. "Guys who are not the heralded guys coming in competed in our program and contributed in enormous ways."

Just six years ago, Smith was in the stands at University of Phoenix Stadium -- site of next year's Super Bowl -- watching his older brother, Steve, make a critical catch in the New York Giants' upset of the unbeaten New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII.

Little did he envision being a Super Bowl MVP one day, and he didn't wear a suit to the Monday morning news conference, where he received keys to a new car.

"They didn't tell me what the dress (code) was like," Smith said. "I definitely had a suit. ... I'm dressed to go to Disney World."

(c)2014 The Kansas City Star (Kansas City, Mo.)

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