Seahawks’ Harvin could be X factor

Posted Friday, Jan. 31, 2014  comments  Print Reprints
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The X factors

In nearly every Super Bowl, there’s a player who will surprisingly impact the game. Sometimes it’s a starter. Other times, it’s a role players. A few times, complete unknowns. Percy Harvin, sidelined most of the season with a hip injury and a concussion, might be that player Sunday. Here’s a look at some other X factors from past Super Bowls:

James Washington, Dallas: A nickel defensive back who started at free safety in Super Bowl XXVIII, Washington returned a fumble 48 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter to tie the game at 13-13 and finished with 11 tackles and an interception in the Cowboys’ 30-13 win.

Max McGee, Green Bay: With starter Boyd Dowler injured early in Super Bowl I, McGee became the go-to target and responded with seven catches for 138 yards and two touchdowns in the Packers’ 35-10 win over Kansas City

Desmond Howard, Green Bay: Howard returned a kickoff 99 yards for a touchdown late in the third quarter of Super Bowl XXXI and finished with 244 all-purpose yards and MVP honors as the Packers beat New England 35-21.

Rod Martin, Oakland: A part-time starter at linebacker, Martin entered Super Bowl XV with just two interceptions in four seasons. However, he intercepted three passes off Ron Jaworski in the Raiders’ 27-10 win.

Timmy Smith, Washington. The rookie running back ran for a Super Bowl-record 204 yard and two touchdowns in the Redskins’ 42-10 win in Super Bowl XXII. Smith had only 126 total rushing yards during the regular season.

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Percy Harvin has played as many plays in the postseason as he did in the regular season. It wasn’t many.

The Seattle Seahawks’ receiver could become the first player in NFL history to have more snaps in the Super Bowl than he had during the season.

“We plan on him playing more,” Seahawks receivers coach Kippy Brown said. “These past couple of weeks, it’s been business as usual. He’s ready to go.”

The Seahawks traded three draft picks, including a first-rounder, to the Minnesota Vikings to get Harvin during the off-season. They signed him to a six-year, $67 million contract and planned to make him the centerpiece of their passing game.

But Harvin, 25, underwent hip surgery Aug. 1. He missed the first 10 games before returning to face his former team. Harvin lasted only 19 plays against the Vikings, returning a kickoff 58 yards and catching one pass for 17 yards before reinjuring his hip.

“It made me grow up and be a man real quick, especially because I had a baby two weeks after my surgery,” Harvin said. “So dealing with all this frustration and still having to go home and be a good boyfriend, I was a wreck for a while. I didn’t really want to talk to anybody, my mom or anybody. I wasn’t in a good place. So it just taught me to handle the things I can control, keep my eyes forward and everything will work out.”

Harvin made it back for the divisional playoff game against the New Orleans Saints, but he lasted only 19 plays in that game after hitting his head on the turf. A concussion knocked him out after three catches for 21 yards. He missed the NFC Championship Game.

“I know when I’m on the field I can be effective,” Harvin said. “I know how hard I practice, how much I put into it. I know it frustrated a lot of people, myself included. It’s all over with now. I’m definitely happy. I’m just looking to go out there and have a great Super Bowl.”

Harvin could be the X factor.

He’s returned 16 career kickoffs for 40 yards or more, including five touchdowns. His career average is 28.2 yards on 115 returns. Jacoby Jones took the second-half kickoff of Super Bowl XLVII an NFL postseason-record 108 yards last year in the Baltimore Ravens’ 34-31 victory.

Harvin should help the Seahawks’ passing game, too.

Seattle’s passing offense ranked only 26th during the regular season. The past six games, including the postseason, Russell Wilson has averaged only 167.2 passing yards with five touchdowns and three interceptions. The Seahawks’ quarterback is happy to have his biggest weapon back.

“He’s been electrifying every time he’s been in the game,” Wilson said. “…He’s lightning fast. He can catch the ball extremely well. He understands the game. He’s extremely tough, too. You notice that. The few plays that he’s played, he goes in there and blocks them.

“I think the biggest thing is getting the ball in his hands. Don’t force it to him, but just get the ball in his hands and trust that he can make the plays. You know he will. He’ll be ready. He’s been itching to play. Percy Harvin, you think about the past four years he’s played, he was arguably the best player in the National Football League before he got hurt. We’re looking forward to having him out there. He’s a talent. He’s a threat when he gets on the field.”

Getting on the field has been the hardest part for Harvin in Seattle.

He caught 280 passes for 3,302 yards and 20 touchdowns in his four seasons with the Vikings. The Seahawks expect that type of contribution from Harvin, starting Sunday.

“He’s that type of dynamic player,” Brown said. “He makes us better, and he’s somebody you have to account for because he’s a tremendous playmaker. So we’re happy he’s back.”

Charean Williams, 817-390-7760 Twitter: @NFLCharean

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