It seems like it has been about a month since Richard Sherman tipped a Colin Kaepernick pass into the waiting hands of Malcolm Smith to clinch the NFC Championship and lift the Seattle Seahawks to the second Super Bowl appearance in franchise history. The week of the big game has arrived with both clubs making the cross-country flight on Sunday evening as the Denver Broncos arrived in the afternoon and Seattle landed in the evening.
The big storyline coming into the game has been which NFL-best unit will lead their team to victory, Denver’s top-ranked offense or Seattle’s top-ranked defense. The biggest storyline actually involves a player who has not seen the field as much as he would have liked coming into the season — Percy Harvin.
It has been well documented how Harvin has missed most of the season due to a hip injury and more recently a concussion suffered during the NFC Divisional Round victory over the New Orleans Saints. Harvin has only appeared in two of Seattle’s 18 games this season with four catches for 38 yards. That right there is the biggest x-factor for Seattle. Denver only has two game films of the Seattle offense withPercy Harvin in them.
This could not have worked out better for Seattle if they had planned it; Pete Carroll truly has a secret weapon at his disposal. Harvin on the field will be very helpful for the Seahawks offense because it will force the defense to account for him in coverage. He is a true game-changer as he proved numerous times for the Minnesota Vikings with his speed. Playing man coverage against him is difficult because of that speed, and that most likely means Denver will have a safety bracket in coverage of Harvin.
With a safety occupied on Harvin, it will open up some more favorable match-ups for Seattle’s other receivers. Golden Tate or Doug Baldwin will surely find themselves in single corner coverage at some point during the game, and these opportunities will need to be recognized and capitalized on by both the receiver and Russell Wilson. A big play will shift field-position and momentum.
The other thing that will open up with safety coverage on Harvin will be the running room for Marshawn Lynch between the tackles. Seattle does not shy away from the fact that the running game is the most important facet of their offense. In most situations, a defense would bring down a safety to assist in shutting down the running game. Denver cannot do that now with the threat of Harvin, Tate or Baldwin beating their man over the middle.
If Seattle can win the game on Sunday, it will be because of Percy Harvin’s effect on the field. He may not catch any passes, but the way he will force Denver to account for him could be the thing that propels the Seahawks to the Lombardi Trophy.