Call it total annihilation.
Call it domination. Call it whatever you want, because the Seattle Seahawks did whatever they wanted to against the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII, turning what many thought would be a coronation for the career of Peyton Manning into the Nightmare Before Christmas for any Denver loyalists.
The Broncos never had a chance against the speed of the Seahawks front seven. A Broncos offense that had given up only 18 sacks all year, and set incredible passing records throughout the course of the 2013 season was no match for the Seahawks.
Everything that people feared could happen to Denver did times 10.
- The Broncos needed to protect the quarterback -- they failed.
- The Broncos needed to protect the football -- the failed miserably.
- The Broncos needed to challenge the Seahawks secondary -- they couldn't even do that.
- The Broncos had to keep Russell Wilson in the pocket -- they struggled.
- The Broncos couldn't let the X-Factor come into play, and Percy Harvin ate their lunch.
The only thing Denver did right was shutting down Marshawn Lynch for 39 yards on 15 carries.
Right from the get-go Super Bowl XLVIII had this eery feeling that Seattle had something extra up their sleeve. It started with the idiotic decision by Trindon Holiday to come out of the end zone with the opening kick, only to get tackled at the Denver 13. The crowd went nuts, and it became apparent that this was really a pro-Seattle crowd instead of the pro-Denver crowd that everyone expected.
|Malcolm Smith, Super Bowl 48 MVP.|
That turn of events seemed the shake Denver so much that they never recovered. The Seahawks now had a mental edge, and quickly imposed a physical edge on this contest.
The Seahawks took the free possession after the safety and jammed the ball down Denver's throat. Harvin was the main catalyst on Seattle's first possession. He stunned everyone on the Broncos defense when he took the ball instead of Lynch, and darted up the sideline for 30 yards to the Broncos 31-yard line. Three plays later, Russell Wilson completed a monster third down and six with a 12-yard slant to Jermaine Kearse. The Seahawks would settle for a field goal, but the momentum was clearly slipping from Denver's grasp.
The Broncos couldn't answer down 5-0. Their next possession was a three and out. A flicker and Peyton Manning, the league's reigning MVP was off the field once again. Wilson then started to show why he is more than just a simple game manager when he converted three huge third downs, with short, but precise completions to put Seattle in range for another Steven Hauschka field goal to make it 8-0.
The worst quarter of Denver's entire season would finally come to an end when Manning was blitzed hard from the right side by Chris Avril, forcing a poorly thrown pass, intended for Julius Thomas, into the hands of a waiting Kam Chancellor for the first interception of the game.
After one quarter the Broncos had the football for a whopping 3:29 with only 15 yards on six plays. Seattle not only pulled a page out of the San Diego Chargers play book from November, they tore every page out of that book. They dominated with both their defense and a ground attack from all over the field.
It wouldn't get any better as the second quarter started. The Seahawks took the gift interception by Manning, and rammed right down the throat of the Broncos leaky defense. Percy Harvin again dashed down the sideline for 15 yards to the Denver 22, before Lynch powered his way for six, and Wilson completed a short pass for seven yards to the Denver 5. Finally, Lynch found his way into the end zone, falling over a pile of Broncos and Seahawks linemen for the score to make it 15-0.
At this point it was easy to think the game was over. Denver's largest deficit all year in any game had been 19 points -- a deficit they nearly erased in a loss to the Colts back in October.
And for a short while it looked like Peyton Manning was starting to get into a groove. He wasn't forcing the football, instead throwing slants to his receivers and allowing them to eat up yards in open space. It was an impressive drive that started at the Denver 16, and found it's way to the Seattle 35. Manning was 7-for-9 on the drive, converting four big third downs in the process.
It looked like Denver was going to score and cut the deficit to a manageable 15-7. However, the mistake bug finally came back to bight Manning. Once again Seattle put out a heavy blitz of Manning, and the quarterback was forced to hurry his throw. His pass was like a fly ball in baseball as it popped straight up into the air and came down into the hands of linebacker Malcolm Smith for the interception.
Smith then turned on the jets, speeding into the end zone for the score to give Seattle a 22-0 lead.
At this point, the game was virtually over.
For as good as Denver's offense had been this year, there was no chance they were going to come back against this defense. The Seahawks came out with a mission, and they were taking it to Peyton the way they took it to his brother, Eli Manning back in December, when Seattle won 23-0 in this very same building.
Think about that in eight quarters against a Manning quarterback, the Seahawks outscored them by a combined 66-8! Ouch!
As if Denver didn't know how hard it would be coming back in this contest, Percy Harvin made sure they would never forget it. After another insidious halftime show, Harvin lit a charge into MetLife Stadium with the exclamation point of the game, when he brought back the opening kickoff of the second half back, 87-yards for a touchdown. Seattle now led 29-0. Can you say "uncle," Denver?
At this point any national interest in the game probably went down the drain. Seattle would pour on two more score to fatten up their lead, making this Super Bowl the biggest blowout we've had since Super Bowl XXXV, when Baltimore beat the Giants 34-7.
This is also one of the most lopsided Super Bowls in NFL history joining Super Bowl XXVII (Dallas 52, Buffalo 17); Super Bowl XXIV (San Francisco 55, Denver 10); Super Bowl XXIII (Washington 42, Denver 10); and Super Bowl XX (Chicago 46, New England 10).
Seattle now joins an interesting group. Like the 1985 Chicago Bears, the 2000 Baltimore Ravens, and to an extent, the 2002 Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Seahawks won this Super Bowl with defense and special teams. They didn't need a quarterback to make big time plays to win the big game. Russell Wilson might be a champion, but he takes a back stage to this defense for the Seahawks; who, now enter the conversation as one of the best units ever with the aforementioned Bears and Ravens.
As for Peyton Manning this was a horrendous loss; one that while it shouldn't tarnish his legacy is going to be a loss his harshest critics will never let him live down.