Special teams could determine Super Bowl champion
PHOENIX (AP) While Russell Wilson was throwing interceptions in the NFC championship game, punter Jon Ryan kick-started Seattle's rally with his arm.
Could the Seahawks try another fake field goal against New England in the Super Bowl?
''This overall arching thought that once a trick play has happened that you can't do another one, I don't think that's the way it is,'' Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said.
''We try to pull it off at the time when it works out right for us and we can take the most advantage of it and we always have to be on the lookout, we always have to be attentive to it.''
The Seahawks were trailing the Green Bay Packers 16-0 in the conference title game when Ryan set up to hold for Steven Hauschka's field goal attempt.
But Ryan pulled the ball away on Hauschka's follow-through. He scrambled to his left, drew the defense in and lobbed a 19-yard TD pass to offensive lineman Garry Gilliam.
''It might have been a little bit of a spark that we needed,'' Ryan said. ''We hadn't scored up until that point. As it turns out, we kind of turned it around from there.''
The Seahawks got another big play on special teams when they recovered an onside kick with just over 2 minutes left in regulation to set up a go-ahead TD.
Wilson overcame four interceptions and threw a TD pass to Jermaine Kearse in overtime to give the Seahawks a chance to win their second straight Super Bowl.
Whether it's another fake, a long return or a last-second kick, special teams could determine who wins Sunday. Both the Seahawks and Patriots have returners who can go the distance and players who can impact the game in other areas.
Here's a look at key special teamers on both clubs:
STEPHEN GOSTKOWSKI: The Patriots won two Super Bowls on last-second field goals by Adam Vinatieri a decade ago. Gostkowski, a three-time Pro Bowl pick, is quite capable of doing the same. Gostkowski is coming off his best season, converting 94.6 percent (35 for 37) of his field goals.
''It's a big deal, but to me it's just a game and it's a game that I want to win,'' Gostkowski said. ''I never like to lose. I'm very competitive and I have a chance to be a champion. I've gotten close twice and it didn't work out for us. Hopefully third time is the charm.''
STEVEN HAUSCHKA: Hauschka missed six of 37 field goals this season, and is 0 for 3 in three games at University of Phoenix Stadium. He grew up a Patriots fan and his favorite player was Vinatieri.
''You honestly don't have to think much at all this week,'' Hauschka said. ''The key is just to go out there and let your body do what it wants to do. I know how to swing, and no mental thoughts are going to make me swing better right now.''
JON RYAN: Ryan proved he can pass, but he's good at his primary job. Ryan had a net average of 38.3 yards and dropped 28 punts inside the 20.
RYAN ALLEN: Allen had a net average of 39.9 per punt two straight years and 25 of his punts this season fell inside the 20.
JULIAN EDELMAN: Edelman has four career TDs on punt returns, including an 84-yard score in New England's win over Denver in November.
''Special teams are one-third of the game,'' Edelman said. ''Anytime you have an explosion play in special teams, whether it's a kickoff return, punt return, good coverage, all of those types of things give momentum to a team and percentages of winning the game go out the roof when those kinds of things happen.''
BRYAN WALTERS: Walters averaged 7.7 yards per return for Seattle and his longest was 21 yards.
DANNY AMENDOLA: Amendola averaged 24.1 yards per kick return for New England this season. His longest return was 81 yards against Denver, though he didn't score.
DOUG BALDWIN: Baldwin became Seattle's primary kick returner after Paul Richardson tore his ACL. Baldwin fumbled in the NFC title game and only has 16 kick returns in his career. He ran one back 69 yards in the playoffs last season.
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