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Age no barrier for coach Carroll's first Super Bowl win

By Julian Linden

EAST RUTHERFORD, New Jersey (Reuters) - Twenty years after he started out coaching in the National Football League, Pete Carroll finally climbed the top of the mountain when the Seattle Seahawks won Sunday's Super Bowl.

At the age of 62, after being hired and fired by a handful of teams, he got his hands on the Vince Lombardi Trophy when the Seahawks trounced the Denver Broncos 43-8 at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey.

Typically, he played down his role, giving praise instead to his young and energetic team for perfectly executing their game plan.

"It's a big deal. It was a big game for us and we played great. We played the way we wanted to play," he said.

"The team was totally focused on getting this done and it played out the way we wanted it to play.

"All phases contributed. It was not really even a question in their mind that we wouldn't perform like this. We didn't ask them to do things that we don't always do and they trusted in that."

With his unbridled enthusiasm, high-octane energy and unusual motivational techniques, Carroll has always been a new-age coach ahead of his time.

The league's second oldest head coach, he blares music during practice, encourages competitive basketball and bowling between the players, and gallops down sidelines during games to

follow the action.

After losing the head coaching job at the New England Patriots and New York Jets, Carroll left the NFL for a decade and coached successfully in college football until he was lured back by the Seahawks.

MANNING SHUT DOWN

In his four seasons in Seattle he has rebuilt the team, recruiting a bunch of younger players and turning them into the best defensive unit in the NFL.

It was a strategy that proved decisive on Sunday as the Seahawks shut down Denver's star quarterback Peyton Manning.

"We didn't get to him as much as we'd like to but we got to him in key situations and made the ball come our way," Carroll said.

"We had four turnovers, they got none. That's about how the defense is getting after it and also the offense taking care of it."

The omens were good for Seattle from the outset when Denver gave up a safety with a botched snap after just 12 seconds, the fastest score ever in Super Bowl.

Then they went on the rampage, racing to a 22-0 lead at halftime and never giving Denver a chance.

"I don't know if that had anything to do with anything. That was just a bad snap. I thought we played real well from start to finish," Carroll said.

"It was unfortunate for them that they had screwy snap but that's two points. That doesn't decide the football game."

For Seattle it was an historic moment, marking the first time the franchise had won the biggest prize in American sports.

The Seahawks owner, Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, who was the first person to get his hands on the trophy at the presentation, said most of the credit belonged to Carroll.

"I don't think you can overstate it. He just has such a positive outlook. He's the most forward thinking coach for the players of today that I've seen," Allen said.

(Editing by John O'Brien)

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