I know that players on the winning team are elated when the final seconds tick off the clock in a championship game. But is there anything more anti-climactic than confetti raining down on players who knew the outcome of the game for more than a full quarter? As excited as they must be to win, I have to wonder if the feeling of joy they had would have been more pointed had they managed to pull out a close victory.
No matter how they felt, I feel I can speak for everyone watching when I say, "Yawn." No doubt, Seattle fans were in heaven if by "heaven" I mean "drunk by the end of the third quarter." In a game many touted as one of the best match ups in a decade, the end result was a 43-8 thumping that started with a Denver safety on the first play and rolled swiftly downhill from there. Besides the Seahawks fans, only people who bet on a safety as the first score in the game or those who took the over on game time temperature went home happy in this one.
In fact, before getting into the game, it should be noted that the weather was downright perfect despite this being the first ever cold weather outdoor stadium Super Bowl. Mother Nature was most definitely smiling on Roger Goodell and the NFL (and Bruno Mars).
"Speed kills" is an axiom usually reserved for automobiles, but it certainly applies to sports, in this case the speed of the Seattle defense against what felt like a very sluggish Denver offense. Seattle held the Broncos to one touchdown and forced them into four turnovers including two Peyton Manning interceptions, one returned for a touchdown by Super Bowl MVP Malcom Smith.
From the very start, this was a laugher. From the opening play safety to the kickoff return for a touchdown by Percy Harvin to open the second half, it was ugly for the Broncos and a masterpiece for Coach Peter Carroll, only the third coach in history to win a national championship in college and a Super Bowl, and his squad.
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Ironically, it wasn't just the Seattle defense that was impressive, but the offense and quarterback Russell Wilson. Sometimes called an elite game manager -- a seriously backhanded compliment -- Wilson was outstanding throwing for over 200 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions. He led his offense to convert seven of their 12 third downs as well. But, of course, the defense was also stellar. During the ESPN pregame Sunday morning, one analyst pointed out that a concern for Manning and Denver would be that, unlike most defenses, Seattle tends to make plays instinctually and often out of position. Manning thrives on defensive predictability, a characteristic the Seattle secondary -- nicknamed the Legion of Boom -- does not have.
Now, the question becomes how does this impact Manning's legacy? It's really a silly question. Manning is 1-2 in Super Bowl appearances, but he is still one of the great quarterbacks to ever play the game. He clearly ran into a buzz saw of a defense that game planned extremely well against his team.
In some ways, this was reminiscent of the year the Patriots when 18-0 only to lose in the Super Bowl to the New York Giants. That season, much like this one for Manning, Tom Brady broke numerous passing records, but fell short in the title game thanks to a relentless pass rush from the Giants and great coverage in the secondary. Manning got a serious dose of both from Seattle though he was not sacked.
Whatever the case, Manning will be back as will the Seahawks. Despite what appeared to be a fairly serious ankle injury to Seattle corner Richard Sherman at the end of the game, both teams should return mostly intact next season. It will be interesting to see how both hold up under the scrutiny they will face, good and bad. Sadly, we won't find out until September.