Super Bowl XLVIII: Game for the ages?
Twelve seconds into the game, the Seattle Seahawks became the quickest team to score in a Super Bowl ever.
The way it happened and the way the rest of the game played out, was anything but expected.
In a matchup that was billed to be a Super Bowl for the ages, with the media capitalizing on the dynamic personalities of Peyton Manning, Richard Sherman and Marshawn Lynch in the two weeks leading up to the game, not a single NFL analyst predicted this outcome.
But then again, nobody in the world saw this coming.
If I had told you that going into the fourth quarter of the game Seattle would only have scored two touchdowns on offense, Marshawn Lynch would only have 39 yards rushing on the game and Richard Sherman would leave with an ankle injury, you would likely have called Vegas and bet the house on the Denver Broncos.
But not so fast.
Surely the greatest offense of all time, with statistically the greatest single season quarterback of all time at the helm, would trounce any team that was incapable of scoring in a high-powered offensive shoot out.
Surely Manning, the game’s most successful cerebral assassin, would have his team prepared to take care of business on the biggest stage in all of sports after an entire season focusing and training to reach this very game.
Surely the number one ranked defense and the number one ranked offense would yield an exciting matchup that would come down to the wire.
But 10 seconds into the game the pigskin sailed into the end zone, flying just inches past Manning’s shocked face, and the rest was history.
The Seahawks took advantage of Bronco’s center Manny Ramirez’s mistimed snap, tackling Knowshon Moreno as he fell on the ball to save a touchdown, taking the safety and the first two points of Super Bowl XLVIII. They never looked back, eventually winding up with the franchise’s first ever Lombardi trophy on a rout of the Broncos to the tune of 43-8.
Absolutely no one saw this coming.
The Seahawks beat the Broncos in every facet of the game, swarming the football on defense causing big hits and big turnovers. They proved that defense does indeed still win championships, even in the 21st century pass-happy NFL.
After the safety, the Seahawks marched down the field thanks to clutch third down plays by second year quarterback Russell Wilson, leading to a Steven Hauschka field goal.
The Broncos offense sputtered on the ensuing drive and they were forced to punt, which the Seahawks took advantage of again with a Haushcka field goal to put the score at 8-0.
The next two Broncos drives ended in Peyton Manning interceptions, by safety Kam Chancellor and linebacker Malcolm Smith, both leading to Seahawk touchdowns to push the halftime score to 22-0.
After the fireworks from the Bruno Mars and Red Hot Chili Peppers halftime show settled, Peyton and Co. came out of the tunnel hoping to start fresh and get on the scoreboard. Instead, they watched the electrifying Percy Harvin return a pooch kick for an 87-yard touchdown return right out of the gates and then saw their own first two drives of the second half end in a punt and a fumble.
The Broncos finally got on the scoreboard late in the third with a Manning touchdown to wide receiver Demaryius Thomas, but the damage had already been done. After an uninteresting fourth quarter including only one more Hauschka field goal, the Seattle Seahawks were crowned champions.
Not a single player for the young Seahawks team had ever been to a Super Bowl before, but now every last player will be wearing a ring and can claim a spot in elite company as seasoned Super Bowl victors.
The much-hyped Legion of Boom, as the Seattle secondary is called, lived up to their name, flying across the field and delivering big hits and even bigger plays throughout the game. Manning and the Broncos simply could not get anything going against a Seahawks defense that was the best in football in 2013.
Of the first 7 Broncos drives, five resulted in turnovers.
As a testament to the historic nature of the Seahawks defense, oft-overlooked linebacker Malcolm Smith was named Super Bowl XLVIII MVP after a great performance returning a Manning interception 69 yards for a touchdown and recovering a Demaryius Thomas fumble. This was the same Smith who caught the game-clinching interception in the NFC Championship, but was overshadowed by Richard Sherman’s tip and Sherman’s controversial comments.
The fact that Smith won the MVP showed just how dynamic this defense was from top to bottom.
So now, analysts will be left questioning Manning’s legacy as one of the greats, as his playoff record slides to 11-12 and he is sent home with another loss in another big game.
But as Manning’s legacy is nearing completion, no matter how the final verdict rests, Wilson’s legacy is just beginning. The impressive young quarterback and his team will have the whole offseason to celebrate and prepare for a 2014 season as defending champions of the National Football League.