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After barely playing in regular season, Percy Harvin saves best for biggest stage

Seattle Seahawks' Percy Harvin returns a kickoff 87-yards

Seattle Seahawks' Percy Harvin returns a kickoff 87-yards for a touchdown during the second half of the Super Bowl on Sunday, Feb. 2, 2014. Credit: AP / Matt Slocum

In the brief time he has played with this group, Percy Harvin has done more than prove that he belongs with the Seahawks. In his own way, he symbolizes them. As he, and they, showed Sunday night, it is a team that never gives up on anybody.

Pete Carroll fits that description, having been fired in his two previous jobs as an NFL head coach. Russell Wilson also is in that mode, given that many teams deemed him too small to be a starting quarterback in the league.

So the Seahawks weren't going to let a little detail like the fact that Harvin had barely played this season prevent them from making him a part of their Super Bowl plan. Having waited for him to recover from hip surgery, which limited him to 19 offensive plays in the regular season, and a concussion, which stopped him after another 19 snaps in the postseason win over the Saints, they made Harvin a centerpiece Sunday night.

Instead of bringing the wide receiver along slowly, they handed him the ball on their second play from scrimmage. Harvin raced around left end for 30 yards, clearly making a statement in the Seahawks' 43-8 romp in Super Bowl XLVIII at MetLife Stadium.

And just in case the Broncos had any desperate hope of making it a game after falling behind by 22 points, Harvin returned the second-half kickoff 87 yards for a touchdown.

"Man, it's a big horse off my back," Harvin said. "I finally was able to give my team something: four quarters. That meant a lot to me. Being out the whole season took a toll on me. I leaned on those guys so much. They kept me going."

Wilson never lost faith in Harvin. "I knew Percy was going to have a big game tonight," Wilson said. "He's been one of the best players in the National Football League for four years."

That's why Seattle traded three draft picks to the Vikings and gave Harvin a six-year deal that could total $67 million.

"It was definitely a trying year for me. I have my days with great teammates that I leaned on them a lot, just to keep me going -- my mom, my family," Harvin said last week. "It was frustrating for a lot of people: me, my teammates, the front office. But we all stuck together."

On Sunday night they stuck it to the Broncos, who had admitted they didn't know what to expect from Harvin. "We don't really have a lot of film on him," Quentin Jammer said.

Denver's Champ Bailey had been wary, saying: "I can only imagine with two weeks of preparation, they're going to use him. I wouldn't doubt that because he's a special player."

Harvin, a college teammate of Tim Tebow's and still a close friend, was a little amused by the talk that he would be an "X factor." He said, "This is not my first rodeo. I've played in a lot of football games and I've been effective at doing that."

But this was different for the 25-year-old, who has been waiting for an occasion like Sunday night since he was 6. He was a huge part of a team that always held the door open for him.

"I think a lot of people in life beat themselves up over things that they necessarily can't control," he said. "So going through that whole process, having my up and down games, talking to people, it opened my eyes up to a lot of different things."


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