The Seattle Seahawks are looking to become the first team in a decade to win back-to-back Super Bowls. Pete Carroll's squad has some of the biggest stars in the NFL on both sides of the ball, but they wouldn't have a chance to win consecutive championships without a few players that often may go unnoticed.
Five Seahawks were named to the Pro Bowl, and Russell Wilson has become one of the league’s effective quarterbacks in just three years. Still, the team will need the help of others to beat the New England Patriots on Sunday.
Below is a look at three under-the-radar players to watch for during the Super Bowl.
The tight end could turn out to be one of the most important players for Seattle. While Russell Wilson struggled mightily for much of the NFC Championship, he wasn’t helped out by a subpar corps of wide receivers. Having traded Percy Harvin, the team doesn’t have a legitimate No.1 wide out, led by Doug Baldwin and his 825 receiving yards
Only two Seattle wide receivers had more yards than Willson in the 2014 season. The 25-year-old has the ability to have a breakout performance, posting 139 receiving yards in the Seahawks’ second-to-last game of the season. He caught four passes for 68 yards and a score in the team’s 31-17 win in the divisional playoff round, but the tight end only caught two passes for 11 yards, as the team struggled to move the ball against the Green Bay Packers in the conference title game.
A few catches for Willson could go a long way in helping Seattle move the ball on Sunday. He has the potential to be a major catalyst for an offense that at times relies too heavily on the running game.
Lane hasn’t exactly been under the radar since the Seahawks made the Super Bowl, saying of Rob Gronkowski, “I actually don't think he's that good.” The nickel cornerback, though, is perhaps the most overlooked member of the vaunted “Legion of Boom.” He hasn’t made Pro Bowls like Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor, and he’s not on the field as often as Byron Maxwell, but he could be a key component to Seattle’s success in the Super Bowl.
Lane is an important piece of the best pass defense in football. The 24-year-old missed Week 2 through Week 9 with an injury, and upon his return, Seattle lost just one of their final eight games, climbing in the defensive rankings.
Both Sherman and Thomas will play in the Super Bowl, but both are banged up. Sherman has an elbow injury, and Thomas separated his shoulder against the Packers, forcing Lane to possibly take on an even bigger responsibility against the Patriots.
The guard has been one of the Seahawks' important players all season. After Seattle beat the New York Giants in Week 10, Carroll said that nobody was playing better than Sweezy, who had been drafted as a defensive lineman in college.
Seattle relies heavily on their running game, which is the best in the NFL, and Sweezy will be a major part of opening holes for Marshawn Lynch. Getting Lynch going will be important, considering the Seahawks went 10-1 in his 11 best rushing performances, and just 2-3 in his bottom five rushing games.
The Patriots boast some effective defensive players on their line like Rob Ninkovich, Sealver Siliga and five-time Pro Bowler Vince Wilfork. It will be up to Sweezy and tackle Justin Britt to contain the right side, and to aid two-time Pro Bowler center Max Unger from pressure up the middle. Should Sweezy win the battle at the line, Lynch could easily rush for over 100 yards.
Sweezy also needs to protect Wilson, who runs more than any quarterback in the NFL. He led all signal callers with 849 rushing yards.