Lombardi finally in Seattle

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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Blue and green confetti everywhere, falling gently down like Seattle rain. Seahawks coach Pete Carroll is soaked, the victim of two Gatorade showers. Russell Okung kisses the Lombardi Trophy as NFL Hall of Famer Marcus Allen totes it to the stage. The 12th Man roars, even in MetLife Stadium. Kam Chancellor barks, and Marshawn Lynch flees to seek solitude, grinning.

These are snapshots of a long-overdue celebration, images that will stay with Seattle sports fans for a lifetime, memories made permanent by the baddest team to roam the NFL in quite some time.

The Seahawks didn’t just happen to be the best team in an any-given-Sunday league, not after the way they pounded the Denver Broncos, a great team with a future Hall of Famer at quarterback and the most prolific offense in league history. After an emphatic 43-8 victory in Super Bowl XLVIII, they’re now the monster of the NFL, a young team built to chase many more championships, an unsatisfied team that can’t yet comprehend why the world is shocked that they make greatness look easy.

“To be honest with you,” wide receiver Doug Baldwin said flatly, “a lot of players on this team expected a dominant win.”

The drought is over, Seattle.

You don’t have to endure ridicule about your city’s rampant losing anymore. You don’t have to expect the worst even when your teams are at their best. You don’t have to sneer about being overlooked or underappreciated.

The Seahawks have delivered the city’s first championship since 1979 in one of the Big Four sports leagues (NBA, NFL, NHL, MLB). Thirty-five years of suffering, of outlasting mediocrity and mismanagement and misfortune, knelt at the feet of this team. The Seahawks didn’t just win a championship. They yanked the Lombardi Trophy away from the Broncos. They lived up to their preseason promise to leave no doubt this season.

They posted the mantra on their locker-room walls and wore shirts with the same message: “Leave No Doubt, 24/7.” In the biggest game of their careers, they did exactly that, playing with the edge that makes them great.

They crushed the notion of a Manning Legacy Bowl, taking control of the game from the start. They took advantage of the strangest start in Super Bowl history, collecting a safety and a 2-0 lead 12 seconds into the game after Denver center Manny Ramirez snapped the ball over Peyton Manning’s shoulder.

In a matchup of the league’s best offense vs. its best defense, the Seahawks’ D proved to be the most unstoppable force. They held the Broncos to 306 yards, nearly 160 below their season average.

Denver scored 37.9 points per game in the regular season, but the Broncos didn’t score until after the Seahawks had built a 36-0 lead.

Manning set a Super Bowl record by completing 34 passes, but he managed only 280 yards and threw two interceptions, one of which MVP Malcolm Smith returned for a 69-yard touchdown in the second quarter.

The Seahawks scored on offense, defense and special teams. Percy Harvin, who had played in only two games all season because of injury, eliminated any dreams of a Denver comeback with an 87-yard kickoff return for a touchdown to start the third quarter.

The score was 29-0 after Harvin’s dash, but the Seahawks wouldn’t relent. Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, who completed 18 of 25 passes for 206 yards and two touchdowns, kept telling his team to apply more pressure.

Even when the score ballooned to 36-0, the Seahawks’ special-teams players were still racing to see who could get to the end zone first on a touchback. That’s what they are — relentless.

“This is emotion that we’ve been building up since we were 6, 7 years old and began playing football,” Baldwin said. “We belong here. I kept saying that this is our opportunity and our time. They owe us this opportunity, but they’re not going to give it to us. We have to take it ourselves.”

Oh, they took it. And then they laughed at those who thought they wouldn’t.

“We’re capable of anything,” wide receiver Golden Tate said. “I feel like, at any given moment, we’re capable of breaking a game open.”

Said Carroll: “We played our style of ball. It really wasn’t about the other guys. We just played the way we play. I’m glad that it came out like that, so clearly, so obviously.”

Now they hoist the trophy, not just for themselves, but for a title-starved community that will feast on this triumph. How long had the drought been? The Seahawks are almost too young to remember the Sonics winning the 1979 NBA title. The franchise was only 3 years old then.

“We take this trophy back — everyone knows we are taking this trophy back to the 12th Man,” Carroll said, standing atop the stage at midfield during the postgame trophy presentation. “It’s an unbelievable spirit. It’s their trophy.”

Today, the 38-year-old Seahawks are the best team in the NFL. And they’re set up to stay that way if they can keep their edge and retain the heart of this roster.

The future can wait, however. Finally, you don’t have to seek out tomorrow and dream of the possibility of finding joy in Seattle sports. You can spread out in the moment.

The Seahawks are bringing the Lombardi Trophy home. And it’s yours, all yours, at last.

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