-- by Adam Hocking
Seattle dominated Denver in the Super Bowl to such an extent that I have started writing this piece with two minutes left in the second quarter. Seriously.
It didn’t take some kind of football savant to see Seattle's dominance coming. Believe me. I know plenty about picking NFL games incorrectly.
Everyone said, “How can you pick against Peyton Manning and that offense? Look at what they did this year!”
It was easy. Denver’s big receivers? Meet the Legion of Boom. Manning’s quick release? Not so much when nobody can get open. Manning’s brilliant mind? Meet Pete Carroll and the smartest defense in football.
By the game’s end, the Super Bowl resembled a four-hour train wreck more than a football game, a total disaster, but it was hard to look away. Denver's season burned to the ground as Seattle liberally applied the lighter fluid.
Since the salary cap has leveled the league playing field, these kind of one-sided season-ending games are uncommon, but perhaps this demonstrates just how good the Seahawks really are. They lost three games all season, two on the road, by a combined total of 15 points.
Seattle has been the same team the whole year. Unadulterated physicality and immense talent fuels their confidence. There is no team in the NFL that believes in its program like the Seahawks do.
Throughout history teams like the Seahawks—the Broad Street Bullies, the ‘85 Bears, the Bad Boy Pistons—all thrive for the same reason. They know exactly who they are, and they know it scares and infuriates the rest of the league.
The Seattle defense is perfect for the times. The NFL has fallen in love with the spread, but what happens when an offense that relies on isolating individual matchups can't win a single one of them? It flatlines like Denver’s did.
Seattle is built to thwart the pass at every level. Up front they are relentless, intimidating, deep, and always fresh. The linebackers are turbo-charged thumpers with tremendous instincts flying to the ball. The secondary suffocates with man coverage and bone-jarring hits.
This is an offense-driven league, but Seattle has constructed itself to diametrically oppose that narrative. All those concerned about Russell Wilson not doing enough had more to worry about two weeks ago when Seattle faced its mirror image in San Francisco. Against Denver imposing their will was not a question of if, only how long it would take.
What is Seattle’s legacy as a team then? No, Seattle didn’t set the single season points allowed record, but the neither 1985 Bears nor the 2000 Ravens played in the most offensively-inclined period in NFL history. In their Super Bowls, those teams stifled a mediocre Patriots squad and a lackluster, Kerry Collins-led Giants unit, respectively. The Seahawks did their damage against a five-time MVP.
The Seahawks will go down as fielding one of the very best defenses of all-time, perhaps the best secondary ever, and a damn frightening team for the future.
The NFL is a matchup league, and Seattle management was smart enough to construct the Seahawks in a way that would counter the league’s offensive trends.
Despite being hated, nothing else matters when they end the day a champion.
I realize in my role as scribe and sports analyst I should, for the most part, leave emotion on the sidelines, but I feel sick for Peyton Manning. A guy that works tirelessly to master his craft deserves a better fate than being on the losing end of one of the most lopsided Super Bowls ever.
Denver was shell shocked early, even before the Legion of Boom could take its toll, evidenced by a safety on the first play from scrimmage where Manning didn’t expect the snap and the ball sailed way over his head. Denver’s first three possessions went down as a safety, a punt, and an interception. A few drives later Manning tossed a pick six.
Manning could never get comfortable. His feet were extra happy, and he was short or high on most of his throws. In a single game, Manning’s season turned from a how-to film on playing the quarterback position to, “How do I play this position?” To me though, that says a lot more about Seattle’s defense than Manning’s legacy.
What is left to say about Manning? Unfortunately only what has been said a billion times already, Manning was great in the regular season but could not answer the bell on the biggest stage.
What is the right amount of damage to apply to Manning’s legacy or that of John Fox, 0-2 in Super Bowls? Wes Welker is now 0-3 in the big game. A little bit too much emphasis gets placed on the last game of the year, though it’s only natural. Americans like a climax, and whoever is left standing at the end will be the team upon which praise gets heaped as the rest of the league gets forgotten.
In the end Denver’s was the most prolific offense ever, but the Seattle defense was their worst conceivable matchup. Manning’s season will be remembered forever as the best passing campaign in NFL history, but it will likely serve to underscore Manning’s least favorite characterization: great stats, few rings.
Featured image from: http://www.flickr.com/photos/quintanomedia/12245113796/