Hawks’ comeback leaves fans beaming, locks up playoff edge
The Seahawks’ win over St. Louis on Sunday has fans thinking about another Super Bowl, with home-field advantage locked up through the playoffs.
Seattle Times staff reporter
What: NFC Divisional playoff
When: 5:15 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 10
Where: CenturyLink Field
Who: Seahawks opponent to be determined next weekend
Tickets: Go on sale to the public at 10 a.m. Tuesday through Ticketmaster
What else: If Seahawks win, they would host the NFC Championship at 12:05 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 18.
Super Bowl: At University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, Ariz., 3:30 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 1
Buckle up, Seattle. We could be in for a heck of a ride.
“This is huge,” beamed season-ticket holder Jordan Liebe as the clock ran down in the Seahawks’ 20-6 victory over the St. Louis Rams at CenturyLink Field on Sunday. “The playoffs go through Seattle, and nobody wants to play us here.”
Fans interviewed while exiting CenturyLink Field, where a sellout crowd of 68,453 saw a regular-season finale rich with playoff implications, seemed more determined than jubilant, concentrating not on the victory just achieved, but the prospects that await.
The victory means the Seahawks (12-4) get a first-round bye as the NFC’s No. 1 seed and host their first playoff game at 5:15 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 10. The opponent won’t be determined until after next weekend’s first-round games, but Seattle will have home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.
In short, all the Seahawks have to do is win two home games and they’re headed to Super Bowl XLIX on Feb. 1 in Glendale, Ariz. The last two times the Seahawks were the NFC’s top seed, they made it to the Super Bowl. They beat the Denver Broncos 43-8 this past Feb. 2 to win their first NFL championship.
“I see the Seahawks in the Super Bowl again and I think they deserve it,” said lifelong Hawks fan Heather Stanton, 30, of Gig Harbor. “Why can’t we? Why not? Just look at the way they’ve been tearing up other teams.”
Indeed. Even though the Seahawks never led St. Louis until early in the fourth quarter — nearly 2½ hours after the opening kickoff — they never trailed by more than six points. They can thank their tenacious defense that has keyed the Hawks’ six-game win streak.
Lee Tran, of Seattle, a five-year season-ticket holder, said he was confident — but not comfortable — as the Seahawks on Sunday seemed to be facing a Rams defense as stingy as their own.
“It was a tough game,” Tran said. “We knew it was going to be. It always is against St. Louis.”
The Seahawks avenged a 28-26 loss to the Rams in St. Louis on Oct. 19.
Of the other NFC playoff teams, Tran said, the toughest competitor may be Green Bay. “But if they come here, they’ll have to deal with the 12th Man,” he said.
The Seahawks defeated Green Bay 36-16 on Sept. 4 in Seattle in the NFL’s opening game.
Hamilton Henderson, of Atlanta, a 7-year-old at the game with his grandfather, Effenus Henderson, of Seattle, follows the team closely and summed up some of the Seahawks’ positives.
“I like the way they throw the ball. I like the way Marshawn can run,” Hamilton said. “I like the 12th Man and I like the whole team.”
But, as his grandfather, a season-ticket holder since 1990, confessed, “The first half was a little too close for comfort.”
How big was this win? Big enough for 14-year season-ticket holder Larry Cybulski, of Moses Lake, to gauge the Seahawks’ chance of returning to the Super Bowl at “near 100 percent.” Had they lost Sunday and been forced to travel for playoff games, Cybulski said, their chances of earning a Super Bowl berth would have been, in his view, “no better than 50-50.”
Fans arrived at CenturyLink hoping to see not the lackluster Seahawks who had practically disappeared from playoff conversations with a 6-4 record, but the reborn team that had won five games in a row, all against quality opponents, heading into Sunday.
“I love this team and the energy around them,” said Tyler Fehly, 32, who drove up from Vancouver, Wash., to watch the game from the Hawks Nest, bleachers in the north end zone where fans stand the entire game.
Interviewed at halftime, with the Seahawks trailing 6-0, Fehly said he wasn’t worried.
“They’re a second-half team,” he said. “They’ll rally and pull it out at the end.”
Jack Broom: firstname.lastname@example.org or 206-464-2222