Super Bowl XLVIII: 4 Winners, 4 Losers
It all started with a safety on a snap over Peyton Manning's head on the first play from scrimmage, the nail was driven in further by a Malcolm Smith pick six to close out the first half, and Percy Harvin hit the death blow with the kickoff return for a touchdown to open the second half.
Game, set, match. Seahawks 43, Broncos 8.
And now we brace ourselves for an entire offseason of "Peyton Manning legacy" talk, which sounds like it's going to be even more fun than "Joe Flacco elite" talk.
By the way, what ever happened to that Flacco guy, anyway?
Oh well, let's get going with some winners and losers from last night's Seahawk tsunami....
4. Pete Carroll and John Schneider I love to see people rewarded for ballsy decisions, especially ballsy decisions that essentially render one of their previous decisions a poor one. Prior to the 2012 season, the Seahawks had signed quarterback Matt Flynn away from the Packers for a decent amount of change (moderate NFL starter's money), and still drafted Wisconsin's Russell Wilson in the third round because they liked the value. Wilson promptly seized the starting job, rendered Flynn expendable, and the rest is history. The Seahawks traded Flynn to the Raiders for a song after the 2012 season, swallowed the cap hit, and proceeded to win the Super Bowl two years later. (For the record, this is the one billion percent polar opposite of the way Gary Kubiak handled the quarterback position during the Matt Schaub Era. Never any competition or thought to look at a young guy in, say, the third round.) Pete Carroll and John Schneider have put together a juggernaut in Seattle, a young team that's been allowed to fortify its youthful nucleus with some high priced veterans because they're getting elite play at the most important position from a guy whose cap figure is $681,085. In fact, here is the list of impact players for the Seahawks with 2013 cap figures below $1,000,000:
LB Bobby Wagner $979,045 WR Golden Tate $880,000 CB Brandon Browner $773,756 QB Russell Wilson $681,085 CB Walter Thurmond $607,639 CB Richard Sherman $600,606 CB Byron Maxwell $583,363 LB Malcolm Smith $566,475 WR Doug Baldwin $560,833 WR Jermaine Kearse $480,000 TE Luke Willson $449,633
This is how you get away with having almost $15 million in cap space tied up in Percy Harvin and Sidney Rice, both of whom were injured for most of the season, and still win a Super Bowl. Speaking of which....
3. Percy Harvin Yes, Malcolm Smith won the Most Valuable Player award for the game, but I think that was a tip of the hat to the entire Seattle defense, which was spectacular all night long, particularly when the game was being decided in the first half, So the writers deciding gave it to the defensive player who made the most impactful defensive play. I get it. But the single most valuable individual performance was that of Harvin, whose two fly sweeps in the first quarter kept Denver's defense off balance and gave the Seahawks one way to move the ball on the ground when it became clear they were all-in on stopping Marshawn Lynch. And then the kickoff return for a touchdown to open the second half essentially squashed any comeback hope before Denver had even touched the ball in the third quarter. Swiftly and decisively. Considering Harvin played all of 19 plays during the regular season, it begs the question "Have we ever seen a bigger Super Bowl impact from a player who had virtually no impact in the regular season?" Hell, even Timmy Smith, who rushed for over 200 yards for the Redskins in Super Bowl XXII, rushed for 126 yards during the 1987 regular season. Certainly, Harvin's game on Sunday makes it easier to swallow the contract the Seahawks gave him when they traded for him last offseason.
2. Johnny Manziel
Even though he chose to stay in San Diego and prepare for the NFL Combine instead of heading to New York for the game
parties booze whores (Manziel maturation ALERT!), still somehow our venerable Heisman Trophy winner managed to see his stock tangentially positively impacted as the quarterback to whom he is most frequently compared (Russell Wilson) hoist the Lombardi Trophy in his second year. Granted, whichever team drafts Manziel this May will most assuredly not have Seattle's defense, but still, this was a much more fortuitous outcome for Manziel than if Wilson had struggled.
1. New York and other arctic February NFL cities For all of the discussion of the weather as (in order of importance) a talking point for the game, a sore spot for millionaire ticket buyers, and an ice cold pain in the ass for coddled media members, meteorology wound up being a background story all week, leading up to what appeared to be a sublime night to attend a football game come Sunday. Then came Monday, and this:
Wow, the New York City Super Bowl avoided total weather disaster by about 10 hours. pic.twitter.com/pjYQqfQXrn— Clay Travis (@ClayTravisBGID) February 3, 2014
So the NFL averted logistical and critical disaster by about 12 hours. So when cold weather cities like Philadelphia, Washington D.C., and Boston start the bidding process for a Super Bowl, can we take into account the window of weather surrounding the night of the game and not just the four hours on the field Sunday? Please? (Signed, Coddled Media Member)
4. John Fox Here's all you need to know about John Fox -- trailing 29-0 early in the fourth quarter, with 3rd and 10 at Seattle's 38 yard line, his quarterback ran a draw play that went nowhere. Fox proceeded to punt. From Seattle's 39 yard line. Down 29-0. In the fourth quarter. Of the Super Bowl. You suck, Fox. You suck.
3. America I'm not sure how many average Americans saw this since many of them had probably walked away from the game sometime in the fourth quarter, but at Malcolm Smith's post game press conference, this 9/11 "truther" walked in and took center stage ever so briefly:
That little incident was funny, but it would have been even funnier if the next media member to ask Smith a question would have followed up that kook's accusations with "So, Malcolm, what do you think about what he had to say? Where do you come out on our government's role in 9/11?" Even better would have been if they asked Marshawn Lynch that question. "Oh man, America is just about DAT BI'NESS, BOSS....."
2. Warren Sapp The MVP of our show on Radio Row last week was former Houston Texan Travis Johnson, who was excellent on air during his three partial days with Rich Lord and me, and was fantastic in helping us line up guests. One guest he got us was Warren Sapp, on literally the same day that Sapp was in the news for his negative comments about Michael Strahan's Hall of Fame candidacy. Sapp's stunt last week going all-in anti-Strahan was lame, the motivation of the timing was obvious, and his anti-Strahan premise (the record breaking sack on Brett Favre was a "set up") was completely flawed (so that one play made him less great, Warren?). I suppose as long as Warren keeps screaming really loudly and with great bombasticity (I made that word up), he will always have a gig on television.
1. Troy Aikman discussing the l-word, specifically Peyton's During the fourth quarter of the game, FOX's Troy Aikman went all in preemptively shielding Peyton Manning from the inevitable onslaught of criticism that he would inevitably (and in my opinion, correctly) receive throughout the game. Aikman went so far as to say that this blowout loss would "mean nothing" to Manning's legacy. Well, my counter to that would be "Then why did I just spend four hours watching, if the game seemingly has no big picture meaning for the biggest storyline of the week?" Look, I think it's noble for Aikman to take that stance on Manning, considering that Aikman's entire Hall of Fame legacy is predicated on three Super Bowl wins. He is (probably unwittingly) denigrating his own legacy by propping up Manning's. But what these guys like Aikman (and Trent Dilfer) don't realize is that no one is debating whether or not Peyton Manning is great. He is clearly great. He is just less great than Joe Montana and Tom Brady, and is in an argument tussle with about a half dozen others for the next tier below. Manning can't just slap his resume on the table and say "I'm the best." If he had won this game, he might have been able to. Sorry, I know it's one game, but sometimes in life one game, one day has drastically disproportionate meaning. Ask anyone who's ground out a 4.0 and then got an 1100 on the SAT. Sometimes, one day matters more than everything else.
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