Seahawks Thump Broncos To Claim First Super Bowl


There are a number of simplistic clichés that could be trotted out in an attempt to rationalize the result of Super Bowls. “Defense wins championships” is the most common one that comes to mind, and one that has been uttered many times in the hours after this game. But it is too simplistic a way to try and explain the result of any championship decider, as great as the all-encompassing mantra seems. In the case of Super Bowl XLVIII, it doesn’t even begin to tell the story.

It all started to go wrong for Denver at the coin toss. As Joe Namath and his extraordinarily lavish coat flipped the coin and the Seahawks correctly guessed tails, they decided to defer receiving the ball until the second half, which is the current thinking in NFL circles. Yet when Seattle registered the opening score of the game on the very first play, it was through no great effort of their own. As center Manny Ramirez geared up to snap the ball, Peyton Manning approached the line to change the play call, while the nervous energy flowed through his center. He flung the ball high, which would have been awkward for Manning to take had he been expecting it. Given that he wasn’t, he had no chance with it. The Broncos defenders rushed back to the end zone, covering the ball and giving up a safety. They were fortunate it wasn’t a touchdown.

Now two points down, they had to punt the ball back to the Seahawks as a result of conceding the safety. Seattle duly added a field goal on that drive, which was followed up by a three and out for the Broncos. As the Hawks put up another three points to rush out to an early 8-0 lead, fears began to emerge about how Denver were dealing with the occasion. The game wasn’t about to get any better for them from here.

You can’t win a Super Bowl without the ability to make plays on defense. That part of the old saying is true. Denver had tremendous difficulty trying to move the ball around the Seattle defensive fronts, and were getting little change out of throwing it at the Legion of Boom, either. But at the same time, the Denver defense had managed to limit the damage done to them. They had been put in a tough spot early, and held the Seahawks to two field goals, keeping them well in the game. But their offense failed to really get going at any stage in this contest, failing to respond to the good work on the defensive side of the ball.

Manning tried to get his side going but, having survived a fumble scare on a Knowshon Moreno run, he tried too hard to make a play when it wasn’t there and threw a pick into the grateful arms of Kam Chancellor. The fear and strain was etched on Manning’s face after releasing the ball, but it was too late to do anything about it. To make matters worse, Seattle ran the ball in for a Marshawn Lynch touchdown to really stick the knife into the Broncos.

The nervousness had spread through the Broncos rapidly, and now they weren’t even capable of getting anything right. They had committed early to stopping the run by littering the line of scrimmage with bodies, but Lynch was now able to find holes, and was aided by carries for Percy Harvin and Quarterback Russell Wilson. Seattle’s young and exuberant players had come to play and, in spite of having not a single member among their fifty-three man panel who had played in a Super Bowl before, were reveling in the limelight and taking full advantage of their opportunity. The more experienced Broncos appeared to have frozen entirely.


Manning settled into another drive, going a lot further this time. At this point, the game was deep in the second quarter and Denver badly needed a score to try and settle their nerves and get back into the game. Instead, they got the last thing they needed. Under huge pressure from Cliff Avril, Manning’s throw is lobbed up into the air, with the Broncos running back and Seattle linebacker Malcolm Smith in the area. Smith epitomises the difference in the two sides, hungrily running toward the ball and claiming it for himself, then returning it all the way to the end zone for a pick six and a 22-0 scoreline at the half.

If any life had been pumped back into the flagging legs of the Denver players at half time by some inspirational words, it was quickly removed as Percy Harvin collected a kick off (ironically kicked into an area designed to minimize his return options) and dodged a number of bad attempts at tackles to bring it all the way to the house. At 29-0, this one was done.

The Broncos gave up a further turnover as Demariyus Thomas had the ball jarred loose with minimal effort on the tacklers part, as Malcolm Smith claimed the loose ball and set Seattle on the attack once more. The Broncos seemingly couldn’t do anything right at this point, as the awesome Seahawks continued to blow them away with their physicality and speed. Of course, they took the ball right down the other end, where Jermaine Kearse took it in for another touchdown. It was a solid return for Kearse, who has come up with a number of big plays for this much maligned offense since the playoffs started.

The Broncos finally got on the board through Demariyus Thomas, the only one of the oft praised Denver receiving core to show up in this game. They had problems all over the field, but nobody emerged as a leader to steady the ship when it was needed, and this game got away from them in a hurry. They added a two-point conversion through Wes Welker, for all it was worth.  Seattle added a further touchdown through Doug Baldwin, as they refused to ease up the relentless pressure, not giving the Broncos any way back into the game. The game finished 43-8, a hammering in a hugely one-sided game which sees Seattle claim their first ever Vince Lombardi trophy.

We retire now to the off-season, where we can look back on an awesome display from the Seattle Seahawks on the biggest stage. They really mauled the Broncos from the off, although they helped the Hawks along the way with a large number of shambolic mistakes. Expect lots of debate on where this leaves Peyton Manning in terms of his legacy. While that argument tends to go far over the top, he continues to struggle in the biggest games and was quite poor throughout this game when he was expected to lead. Perhaps too there will be questions over whether Malcolm Smith really deserved to be named MVP, but given he made telling contributions (and they can’t award it to the entire Seahawks defense), he earned his free jeep. The one thing that is for certain is that the best team in the league has ended the year as champions, and deserving ones at that.

Images courtesy of Seattle Seahawks and Reuters

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