's 87-yard kickoff return for a touchdown at the beginning of the second half broke the game open for the Seahawks
. (Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Just wait.
That's what the Seahawks cautioned, all season long, as Percy Harvin struggled first to get in and then to stay in the lineup. Wait until Harvin is healthy, they said, and you'll see why he was worth adding.
"We haven’t had the opportunity to demonstrate how that’s going to all work out and fit with our club yet, to any extent," Seattle head coach Pete Carroll said earlier in the week, "but this will be an opportunity, in this game, to get him involved."
Finally, all the promises came to fruition.
Harvin teased the Seattle fans yet again in the first quarter of Sunday's dominating Super Bowl win, breaking off a 30-yard run on his team's second play from scrimmage and then adding a 15-yard carry and a five-yard reception later. After that, he briefly vanished, just as he did for Weeks 1 through 10 of the regular season while dealing with a hip injury and again for the NFC title game after suffering a concussion.
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The long-awaited breakthrough came on the second half's opening kick, with Seattle already up 22-0 and threatening to blow out Denver. Harvin fielded a short kickoff on the hop at his own 13, danced through a couple of potential tacklers and sprinted to the house for an 87-yard TD.
"It was amazing," said Harvin, who may have had a case for game MVP had it not been for Seattle's incredible defensive effort.
Harvin said the call was for a "counter-right" on the kickoff -- a play the Seahawks put in specifically in hopes that Harvin could break loose on it Sunday.
"Even when I wasn't practicing, those guys were saying, 'You're going to score on this,'" Harvin recalled, "and I'm like, 'I'm not even on the field practicing yet.'
"Coach [Carroll] saved that one return for me hoping we could get a look, and it came through."
The electrifying Harvin landed in Seattle last March after the Seahawks dealt a 2013 first-round pick, seventh-round pick and 2014 third-rounder to Minnesota for him. By that point, an unhappy Harvin appeared destined to bolt from the Vikings when his contract expired after the 2013 season.
Seattle promptly handed him a contract worth $67 million over six years, despite his reputation as an injury-prone player. The franchise nearly looked the fool with Harvin sidelined for almost all of 2013.
The Super Bowl champs got the last laugh.
"I knew the type of person Percy was," said fellow receiver Jermaine Kearse. "He was going to fight back. He was going to get healthy, and when he was finally healthy, he came out and showed out. He made the plays we needed him to make, especially with that kickoff return."
The Vikings landed Xavier Rhodes with Seattle's No. 25 overall pick last April and still hold that upcoming third-rounder (No. 96 overall). That's more than they would have received in any sort of supplemental draft pick had Harvin stayed in Minnesota through this season and then bolted in free agency.
Seattle, though, deserves credit -- after a season's worth of questions and criticism -- for aggressively pursuing the Harvin trade.
The Seahawks likely may have walked out of MetLife Stadium victorious without Harvin's contributions. But he helped set the tone for Sunday's contest early, emphasizing the vast difference in perceptible speed on the field by twice turning the corner on the Denver defense.
Those runs were merely the appetizers.
"It's just a big horse off my back," Harvin said. "I finally was able to give my team something for four quarters. That meant a lot to me.
"Being injured all season took a toll on me. Being able to finish and being able to give my teammates something back -- because I leaned on those guys so much this year to keep me up in spirits and just keep me going -- it meant the world to me."