Veteran leadership finally pays off for Seahawks

All Brandon Stokley does is make plays.

The Seattle Seahawks receiver was one of several veterans with playoff experience who helped the younger players keep their wits about them in a pressure-packed postseason game Saturday.

Stokley finished with four catches for 73 yards in Seattle’s win over New Orleans, including a 45-yard touchdown that gave the Hawks the lead for good, 24-17 with just over a minute left in the first half.

“I take pride in my job,” Stokley said. “My job is to convert third downs. So I was just excited to be back out there and be in the playoffs, and I just wanted to have fun. This was awesome.”

Heading into the contest, Stokley had the second-most playoff appearance (12) behind team leader Raheem Brock, who played in 16 playoff games while with the Indianapolis Colts.

Brock and Stokley were on the 2006-07 Colts team that won the Super Bowl.

Seahawks safety Lawyer Milloy provided a similar steadying influence on defense, with 10 playoff appearances heading into Saturday’s game, including a Super Bowl XXXVI title.

Milloy said after an up-and-down season, the younger players on the roster finally saw the tangible results of their diligent work after beating St. Louis to make the playoffs last week.

“You can have all of those messages throughout the year, and it was obvious a lot of people weren’t getting it,” Milloy said. “And for whatever reason, last week people started to get it. When we won that game in front of that home crowd and we knew we were going to the playoffs, you saw a genuine appreciation for what all the hard work is for, and what Pete (Carroll) and some of the veterans had been talking about.

“They’re starting to figure it out, and that is what’s scary. And it’s our job to keep them hungry, keep them focused and have them enjoy it. It’s a blessing to be in this situation.”

Rookie offensive tackle Russell Okung said he and the other younger players take it to heart when Milloy or the other veteran players offer advice – because they know it’s working.

“I have a lot of respect for Lawyer,” Okung said. “Fifteen years in the game, so he knows exactly what it takes for us to get there. We have really good veteran players on this team that really push us to get the most out of us. I don’t want to say we just realized it last week, but it’s been an ongoing thing, and things are finally starting to come together.”