Pro Football Focus today confirmed what anyone watching the Seahawks has probably thought all season — they have the best special teams in the NFL.
PFF rated Seattle No. 1 in its updated special teams rankings, and said of the Seahawks:
1. Seattle Seahawks: +31.5
(Penalty Rank 2nd, Tackling Efficiency Rank 1st)
Truthfully, there are 31 other special teams units and then there are the Seattle Seahawks. They do things differently from their mass use of starters to the way they attack every opportunity. Obviously it helps to have brilliant players like Heath Farwell and budding superstar, Jeremy Lane but they are just the icing on the cake. This would be a Top-5 group without them – with them, no one else is close.
Indeed, it’s been hard to find much fault with Seattle’s special teams all year other than two notable blips — the blocked field goal at Indy that led to a Colts’ touchdown that helped swing the game, and the fluky botched field goal that led to a Tennessee touchdown when backups were being used as the holder and kicker.
Otherwise, Seattle’s won the special teams battle pretty handily.
Most notable is the punt return teams — Seattle is averaging 12.3 yards per return and has 395 punt return yards, while opponents have just 15 return yards for the entire season. That obviously adds up to almost four football fields for the year, a pretty big field position edge (I wrote a little about that after the Vikings game).
Seattle is being outgained in kickoff returns (and also outaveraged at 24.9 to 20.6) but it hasn’t been hurt in that area much. And kickoff returns may go on an uptick now that Percy Harvin is healthy — his 58-yarder against the Vikings is the longest of the season for the Seahawks.
Placekicking has also been a standout all season as Steven Hauschka is 24-25 and leads the NFL in points with 104 — the only miss being the block against the Colts.
Ultimately, it’s just more evidence of the depth of the Seattle roster.