East Rutherford, N.J. — He hated the idea of it. This wasn’t Percy Harvin’s first rodeo. He’d build up a fairly impressive body of work playing for the Minnesota Vikings.
“I am tired of hearing this talk about me being the X-factor,” he said.
Well, regardless of what letter you attach to it, Harvin was a factor in the Seahawks 43-8 win in Super Bowl XLVIII. He returned the second-half kickoff 87 yards for a touchdown that all but iced the win.
“This was just a big horse off my back,” he said. “I finally was able to give team something for four quarters.”
Harvin missed all of the regular season with a hip injury and he played less than a half of the divisional playoff game before suffering a concussion. This was the first game he started and finished as a member of the Seahawks.
“Just great to give my teammates something back,” he said. “I leaned on them so much this year to keep me up in spirits and just keep me going. It meant the world to me.”
He had the freshest legs on the field. He ran two sweeps in the first half — one for 30 yards and another for 15 — before the kickoff return.
He played a role in the Seahawks’ next touchdown, as well. On a 19-yard completion to Ricardo Lockette, Harvin ran a deep route and his speed cleared out the safety. On the next play, quarterback Russell Wilson hit Jermaine Kearse for a 23-yard touchdown.
The kickoff return was a scheme the Seahawks hadn’t put on film all season.
“We knew there was a chance we would catch them off guard,” Harvin said. “Those guys pretty much cleared out the whole right side of the field. I think there were only two defenders over there.”
Harvin said his teammates had a feeling that play would break.
“Those guys had so much belief in me,” he said. “Even when I wasn’t practicing, those guys were saying, ‘You’re going to score on this,’ and I’m like, ‘I’m not even on the field practicing yet.’ Coach (Pete) Carroll saved that return for me, hoping we could get a look and it came through.”
Small man, big goals
Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson talked all week about wanting to be a player who changes the game.
“If you think about it, there’s a difference between being good and being great and changing the game,” he said. “I think guys like Peyton Manning have changed the game in terms of the way he thinks, in terms of the way he processes things. Tom Bradyis the same way. He’s so clutch; people fear him when he steps on the field. Drew Brees is a guy like that.
“And one day I want to evolve to that.”
He wants to prove, like Brees has, that shorter quarterbacks can win Super Bowls.
“I believe that God made me 5-11 for a reason,” he said. “For all the kids that have been told, no, that they can’t do it and for all the kids that will be told no. That’s one of the reasons that I left playing baseball, to be honest with you. I had this urge to play the game of football, because so many people — I shouldn’t say so many, a handful of people — said I couldn’t do it.
“For me, I just believe in my talent that the Lord gave me and I wanted to take advantage of it.”
Six degrees of Hanson
Former Lions kicker Jason Hansonhas a rare connection to this Super Bowl game. He has won mild training camp battles against both Denver kicker Matt Prater and Seattle’s Steven Hauschka.
The Lions signed Prater as an undrafted rookie in 2006. He lasted four months before being cut at the end of training camp.
Hauschka was signed by the Lions in 2010, the year Hanson was coming off surgery. He only lasted a month. He might have been recalled after Hanson was injured after eight games that year, but he had already signed with Denver, to fill in for an injured Prater.
Prater has been with Denver since 2007. Hauschka has been with Seattle since 2011.
Big play CJ
The Lions were not shut out at the third annual NFL Honors awards night Saturday.
Receiver Calvin Johnsonwon the Bridgestone Performance Play of the Year award for his 50-yard touchdown catch in the Week 7 victory over Cincinnati. Johnson made the catch over triple coverage.
The play was selected out of 20 nominees by fan vote on NFL.com.
Broncos receiver Eric Decker will be an unrestricted free agent this offseason. It would cost the Broncos $11 million to use the franchise tag on him, which would presumably be cost prohibitive.
… Random statistic: Manning was sacked 20 times in 18 games this season. Wilson was sacked 51 times in 18 games.