For the second straight year, the Seahawks are the No. 1 seed in the NFL — and this time, no one should be questioning whether they can use that home-field advantage to win the Super Bowl.
Not after they did it last year.
Forget the fact that no Super Bowl champ has won a playoff game since 2005, when New England did it, and no champ has repeated since the Patriots did it in 2004.
Forget the fact that four teams have not even made the playoffs the next season or that four were bounced in the first game.
Pete Carroll didn’t want to hear it after the Hawks beat St. Louis at home in the season finale for the second straight year to secure the top seed. It’s the fourth time in Carroll’s five seasons the Hawks have beaten the Rams in Seattle in the season finale — three of those wins resulted in NFC West titles.
Carroll said, “All you guys (media) kept talking about how you can’t do this and you can’t get to this point again, and you can’t come back and all this stuff. You can. You can do it, and we just did it. … We got back to division champs, and that’s pretty rare. I’m really proud of that.
“That was the challenge. That has made me more excited about this year than any year I can remember, because what if we could pull this thing together and do something like this? We’ll show that we can and there’s a way to do it.”
The Hawks, who were 6-4 six weeks ago, had to rally from three games behind Arizona to take the division for the third time in Carroll’s five seasons, and they did it with a six-game run punctuated by astounding defense.
“It’s such a big accomplishment today,” Carroll said. “We finally accomplished something during the course of the season. It took us all year. There was a time when we were 3-3. … Six weeks ago, we were three games out of the lead. So, to win the division today and be NFC West champs is really a big deal. It’s a big deal because we get to play here in the playoffs. We have an opportunity, like we did last year, to bring it home to the 12s.”
Only a fool would bet against the Seahawks at this point. They once again have the league’s most dominating defense — just the eighth team to be No. 1 in both yards and scoring since 1990, when the league went to the current playoff format.
Four of the previous seven teams have been No. 1 seeds. Three won the Super Bowl: the 2013 Seahawks, 2008 Pittsburgh Steelers and 1996 Green Bay Packers.
The fourth No. 1 defense/seed was the 2004 Steelers, who lost the AFC title game to the eventual Super Bowl champion New England Patriots.
The Seahawks proved last year that the No. 1 defense/seed combo made them unbeatable — and that their top-ranked defense was so good it could shut down the best offense in NFL history (beating Denver 43-8 in the Super Bowl).
Carroll rightfully is confident his team can do it again.
“There’s no doubt in my mind that this team will be ready to go,” he said. “They’ll be so cranked and ready to play their best football. If somebody can get us, they’re going to have to play pretty good ball. We are in the finish mode right now. That’s when I hope we continue to be at our best. We’ll see if we can pull it off.”