Seahawks ready for title defense

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NEW YORK -- Less than 12 hours after winning the Super Bowl, Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll already was talking about getting started on next season.

"The first meeting that we'll have will be tomorrow. ... Our guys would be surprised if we didn't," Carroll said Monday morning. "We really have an eye on what's coming, and we don't dwell on what just happened. We'll take this in stride."

He appeared at a news conference at a Manhattan hotel with linebacker Malcolm Smith, the MVP of Seattle's 43-8 victory over Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos on Sunday night.

Carroll oversees a team with the fourth-youngest roster for a Super Bowl champion, with an average age of 26 years, 175 days. The youngest champs ever were the Pittsburgh Steelers who won the 1975 Super Bowl, and they collected a second consecutive title the next year.

Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson just wrapped up his second season in the league, as did Jermaine Kearse, who caught one of Wilson's two touchdown passes Sunday. Doug Baldwin, who caught the other, is only three years into his pro career, as are star cornerback Richard Sherman and Smith, who at 24 is the fourth-youngest player to be the Super Bowl MVP.

"We've seen the effort that it takes to get to this point, and obviously we'll try to replicate that and do it again," Smith said. "We're looking forward to the next challenges and guys having a target on their back and people trying to come after us."

The core of Seattle's defense also will remain intact next season. Of the 15 Seahawks who played at least 500 snaps on defense through the NFC Championship Game, defensive linemen Michael Bennett, Clinton McDonald and Tony McDaniel are the only three not under contract for 2014, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

Smith became the third linebacker to earn Super Bowl MVP honors, thanks to a 69-yard touchdown return of an interception of regular-season MVP Manning in the first half and a fumble recovery in the second half.

He said that during the game some of his teammates were telling him, "You might be the MVP."

"And I was like, 'No way. No way. Not me.'"

Carroll said general manager John Schneider has positioned the Seahawks to be able to avoid the problems that can make it hard to repeat as NFL champions. Since Denver repeated in the 1999 game, only one team has won two Super Bowls in a row, the New England Patriots in 2004 and 2005.

There's the need to replace players who leave via free agency as well as the need to pay other players with new, better-paying contracts.

"John Schneider has done an extraordinary job of structuring this roster contractually and with the vision of looking ahead so that we can keep our guys together," Carroll said. "One of the things that happens every so often is teams have a big fallout after they win the Super Bowl. We're not in that situation."

Carroll was reminded during Sunday's game of some of his blowout victories in bowl games when he was a championship-winning coach at Southern California.

"It felt like it. It looked like it. The score was like it," he said Monday.

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