A Super Letdown
February 6, 2014
It had been awhile since we had a blow-out in a Super Bowl matchup. Well, we got one on Sunday as Seattle, as predicted in these pages, dominated Denver by a 43-8 count in a contest that was basically over a few minutes after Bruno Mars completed his halftime performance. With the result in hand that early, many were letdown after the build-up to the game almost guaranteed us a close game.
A high majority of the media along with the handicappers in Vegas picked Denver primarily due to the Broncos high-flying offense. They say the NFL is a league for offense. So how, then, was Super Bowl XLVIII dominated by a young group of tormentors creating chaos around Peyton Manning and wreaking havoc for the most potent offense in league history?
Because like I told you last week. Defense wins championships. And the Seattle victory became a rout because Denver did not have any defense to what is considered just an average Seahawk offense.
Peyton Manning...now what?
The analysis of this Super Bowl will center, rightfully, on a tremendous defense. Without a doubt, Seattle produced one of the best defensive performances in Super Bowl history. This is one game in which stats lie. Manning set a Super Bowl record with 34 completions, and he threw for a respectable 280 yards. But when the game was in question, and that was not long, Manning managed only 51 passing yards in the first 26 minutes of the game, and by then it was over. Seattle led 22-0 by that point.
Just how incredible was the Seahawks’ defense you ask? First of all, keep this in mind. In the 94-year history of the NFL, Denver’s 606 points this season were the most ever. I looked back at some Super Bowls that I remember. I can only think of three defensive performances that compare: the Bears’ stifling 46-10 rout of the Patriots in Super Bowl XX, Baltimore’s 34-7 beat down of the Giants in Super Bowl XXXV, and the Giants shocking New England--at that point the highest-scoring team in any single season--17-14 in Super Bowl XLII.
This Seattle defense had it all. The secondary played great, unleashing punishment on almost every Denver reception. And the Broncos could not throw any deep patterns because Manning was facing a ferocious pass rush. Cliff Avril led the defensive front. He had three big plays in the first half, including two heavy pressures on Manning that aided both interceptions.
The game had to be a bitter disappointment for Manning. You know the outcome and his own performance disappointed him the most. Though he will not likely admit it, he has to be disappointed that he now has to address his “legacy” again. He will be 38 years old on opening day next year and he will still be stuck on one Super Bowl win.
Seahawks Malcom Smith was Super Bowl MVP
Manning will, once again, hear talk of how he can’t win the big one. He will listen to media members who never played the game at the professional level point out that he puts up gaudy statistics in the regular season, but doesn’t get it done in the playoffs when it counts.
I look at it like this. The Broncos, not just Manning, lost to a far superior team. They were underprepared, out-coached and, out-executed across the board in all three phases of the game.
I view Manning as one of the top five quarterbacks of all-time. One should not base a legacy on Super Bowl titles alone. Is his brother, Eli, better then him because Eli has two titles? Not a chance. Is Russell Wilson, Seattle’s quarterback, an equal of Manning because he now has one title? Heck, even Trent Dilfer and Jeff Hostetler won a Super Bowl. Manning has been the league’s MVP five different seasons. No other quarterback can make that claim.
Let me close with this. The NFL certainly got lucky with the weather at the Super Bowl. Temperature at game time was just over 45 degrees. Very lucky as East Rutherford, NJ. got around five inches of snow the day after the game. And six days earlier it was 7 degrees in mid-afternoon. I do not want to hear now that the NFL should put Super Bowls outside in the north because Sunday proved you can. This day the NFL got a perfect window is what it proved.
The Next Bo?
It has been awhile since we have witnessed a professional athlete play both football and baseball during a calendar year. Bo Jackson and Deion Sanders come to mind but that was a generation ago.
I only bring up the topic due to learning that Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston was just named as a pre-season All American on the baseball field.
It was just over a month ago that the Heisman Trophy winner led the Seminoles to a National Championship. A redshirt freshman on the football field, Winston is a sophomore on the diamond.
Winston was named as a preseason third-team All-America by Baseball America in its “utility” slot, which the publication notes is reserved for players who both hit and pitch. Winston served as a part-time right fielder last season, hitting .235/.377/.345 with a pair of homers and steals. On the hill, he threw 27 innings and compiled a 3.00 ERA while striking out 21 hitters.
Winston will pitch this season for FSU and is slated to be the team’s closer. His fastball was clocked in the mid-90’s last season.
Keep an eye on Winston.
You also may want to keep an eye on Russell Wilson of the Seattle Seahawks. The Hawks’ quarterback was drafted by the Texas Rangers awhile back and has indicated that he will attend spring training this spring.