EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Percy Harvin had participated in all of 40 plays this season coming into Super Bowl XLVIII.
But the Seattle Seahawks’ electrifying jack-of-all-trades wasted little time showing why he rightfully carried the “X-factor” tag into MetLife Stadium on Sunday night.
Harvin took a jet sweep running to the left on Seattle’s second offensive play, exploding down the sideline for 30 yards. He was just getting started in the Seahawks’ 43-8 thumping of the Denver Broncos at MetLife Stadium.
A 22-0 halftime deficit already had the Broncos’ hopes on life support, but Harvin smothered them by taking the opening kickoff of the second half 87 yards for a touchdown. The Broncos intentionally kicked the ball short, with Fox play-by-play man Joe Buck calling it a “good kick.”
Harvin’s return was simply better. He fielded it on one hop, then headed right, blowing past Nate Irving. Then Steven Johnson whiffed. Broncos tight end Jacob Tamme and Brandon Marshall had chances at Harvin. They missed. Finally, Harvin zigzagged past Broncos kicker Matt Prater, and it was clear sailing.
Five Broncos had barely laid a finger on him.
“We had bounce-right, counter-right,” Harvin said of the play. “We were calling for it all week. We knew it was a good chance. We hadn’t put that on film all year and the guys did a heck of a job blocking. As soon as I caught the ball, it was open field.
“Coach saved that one return for me hoping we could get a look, and it came through.”
Harvin made a compelling case for MVP of the game after finishing with 137 all-purpose yards on four touches. He rushed for 45 yards on just two carries, using the same jet sweep to the left to gain 15 yards late in the second quarter, helping set up the Seahawks’ first touchdown.
“I finally was able to give my team something for four quarters,” said Harvin, who played in just two games this season coming into the Super Bowl because of offseason hip surgery and a concussion suffered in the divisional round of the playoffs against New Orleans. “Being injured all season, it 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 to keep me up in spirits … it means the world to me.”
The Seahawks acquired Harvin in a trade with the Minnesota Vikings, giving up three draft picks in the process, including their 2013 first rounder. They also signed him to a six-year contract potentially worth more than $64 million.
He earned a whole lot of that cash Sunday night by doing exactly what his teammates expected him to.
“We knew if they gave the ball to Percy, he was going to go all the way,” Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner said.
Harvin simply has that type of world-class speed.
“Percy is explosive,” Seahawks defensive tackle Brandon Mebane said. “If he was to play baseball, he’d be a center fielder and the leadoff batter. If he was to play basketball, he’d be the point guard. He’s an incredible athlete. It’s hard to account for him.”
Here’s a scary thought for the rest of the league: The Seahawks are the second-youngest team ever to reach a Super Bowl, and they should have Harvin healthy for a full season in 2014.
“I knew Percy was going to have a big game tonight,” Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson said. “He’s been one of the best football players in the National Football League the past four years.”
Harvin said he wasn’t surprised by the rout.
“It’s not too crazy to us, because we know who we have in our locker room,” he said. “The way we prepare, the way our defense prepares, we had tremendous confidence.”