Another Super Bowl has been etched into the minds and memories of America as the Seattle Seahawks overwhelmed the Denver Broncos by a score of 43 – 8. While many Super Bowls in previous years have been remembered for clutch plays late in the game (like the Ravens’ late goal line defensive stand, or Mario Manningham toeing the sideline) this year’s Super Bowl will probably be remembered for being a huge letdown. For a matchup between the top-ranked defense and the top-ranked offense, there was very little drama throughout the game that disappointed fans, the NFL, and advertisers.
The game began with an unusual twist as Peyton Manning watched the first snap sail over his shoulder and into the endzone for a Seattle safety. The Seahawks extended their lead with two field goals to take an 8 – 0 lead into the beginning of the second quarter. However, despite being a one possession game, the Broncos had yet to record a first down and looked completely lost on offense. The Seahawks took further control of the game when Marshawn Lynch punched in a 1 yard touchdown run to extend the lead to 15 – 0 early in the second quarter. Things seem to have cooled down a bit until Denver’s wheels began to fall off. Peyton, who had already thrown one interception at this point, was hit as he released a pass that flew high up into the air only to be catch by Seahawk linebacker Malcom Smith who returned the interception 69 yards for a touchdown and a 22 – 0 lead that would remain unchanged heading into halftime.
NFL fans eagerly awaited the return of the Broncos after halftime, seemingly convinced that Peyton or Head Coach John Fox would be able to awaken the sleeping superpower that had run through most of the NFL during the regular season. However, the fun was only just beginning as speedster Percy Harvin returned the second half’s opening kickoff 87 yards to give Seattle an alarming 29 – 0 lead. Seattle did not let up and added another touchdown later in the third quarter. The 23 yard touchdown pass to Jermaine Kearse will most likely be replayed on ESPN’s top plays as he broke about 4 Bronco tacklers and it essentially put the final nail in the coffin as the Seahawks took a 36 – 0 lead with just under 3 minutes remaining in the third quarter.
Peyton and the Broncos finally got on the board in the fourth quarter with a 14 yard touchdown pass to Demaryius Thomas and a successful two point conversion pass to Wes Welker. The Seahawks responded, albeit unnecessarily at that point, with a 10 yard touchdown pass to Doug Baldwin to account for the final score of 43 – 8.
In the end, the Broncos finished with a troubling 4 turnovers, 3 by Manning, and they allowed the Seahawks to score on offense, defense, and special teams. While media and causal fans will jump on Peyton and possibly blame the loss on his shoulders and question his legacy but the reality is that it was a complete and team-wide rout by the Seahawks. It wasn’t just the Seattle defense, but their offense and special teams that completely dominated the Broncos. Percy Harvin contributed to both of these aspects when he showed his unique speed and elusiveness that probably made some people at your watch party shout. Another offseason to get completely healthy is very bad news for the rest of the league as Harvin may be the most dangerous threat in the NFL with the ball in open field. He led the Seahawks in rushing yards despite only getting 2 carries, and he returned a kickoff as previously mentioned. However, he still only touched the ball an astonishing 4 times: two carries, one reception and that one return. Next season you can probably bet that he will become much more involved in the offense. You can also bet that he might propel the Seahawks’ offense into the top tier of the league. Also, with Russell Wilson still on his puny (less than $1 million per year!) rookie contract the Seahawks still have money to retain most of their current players and potentially even add some free agents.
All indications are that Peyton Manning will return for another season, especially considering the disappointing end to this season. However, it’s unclear what else the Broncos need. They will get back some injured players, particularly on the defensive side, but until the Super Bowl the Broncos had seemed so close to perfect. This offseason could show just how good Broncos management is if they can identify their problem areas and pursue possible solutions.
Generally, the NFL will probably see a lot of teams try to copy the Seahawks’ model in the offseason by stacking up with a tremendous defense. However, the Seahawks will only be getting better with another year of experience for Wilson and a fully healthy Harvin. In conclusion, Super Bowl XLVIII will probably be most remembered for the incredible lack of competition, the beginning of a legacy for Russell Wilson, and perhaps the end of Peyton Manning’s relevance.