Feb 02 2014

Seahawks Super Bowl Win Over Broncos Diversifies The Game

The Seattle Seahawks defeated the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII. That much I knew back in September, after rosters were finalized but before Week 1 kicked off.

But 43-8? Wow! I pride myself on picking Super Bowl winners, as I’ve done each of the past three seasons. But my predicted score for this game was 24-23. I thought this game would be another razor. It was a sharp performance, but by the novice Seahawks, not the relatively grizzled Broncos.

I loved this game, and not because I wanted or predicted a meltdown for Broncos QB Peyton Manning. I love what this Super Bowl says about the future of football, how teams should prioritize roster construction, and who can and cannot play on a championship team in the NFL now.

Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll created an anomaly in the Pacific Northwest. Well, of course he did – Carroll’s a coaching anomaly! Carroll broke into the NFL as the defensive backs coach for the 1984 Buffalo Bills. He eventually became the defensive coordinator of the New York Jets, who fired him after serving as the team’s head coach in 1994. He was the San Francisco 49ers’ defensive coordinator in 1995-1996 before serving as the New England Patriots head coach from 1997-1999. He rebranded himself at USC, building a national championship team, but he was shunned in NFL circles for his coaching style. His four years at Seattle have validated his style, as has his team’s outstanding defense, led by the secondary’s Legion of Boom. He now has joined Jimmy Johnson and Barry Switzer as the only coaches to win a national title in college and a Super Bowl.

Russell Wilson changed everything for Seattle. Who would have thought that a 5’11”, black mobile quarterback in his second NFL season after being a third round pick would be able to lead the Seahawks to their first ever Super Bowl win? Especially in a season, in an era, where the passing QB is dominant?  The most dominant, Broncos QB Peyton Manning, set records for passing TDs and passing yards in a season. Wilson was going to outplay him? Especially when the Seahawks built their offense around a West Coast, run-heavy, ball-control scheme?

Well, Wilson completed 18 of 25 passes for 205 yards and two TDs, adding 26 yards on the ground and not turning the ball over once. Manning completed a Super Bowl-record 34 of 49 passes for only 280 yards and one TD, enduring three turnovers. Manning’s second INT was returned for a TD by Super Bowl MVP LB Malcolm Smith, a 2011 seventh round pick out of USC. Wilson, who looks up to Saints QB Drew Brees, was able to accomplish the same thing Brees did: be the winning QB in a Super Bowl featuring Peyton Manning. Wilson became the second black starting QB to win a Super Bowl. Like Washington Redskins QB Doug Williams, he knocked off the Denver Broncos in a blowout. Unlike Doug Williams in 1987-1988, Wilson was his team’s main starter throughout the season.

Finally, we can appreciate a team effort once again. As Manning was tearing through the NFL this season, I couldn’t help but see folks label the QB as the only position that matters in football. The Seahawks built a throwback team, with heavy reliance on RB Marshawn Lynch, a strong LT in Russell Okung, a deep defensive line with funky parts like DE Red Bryant (a five-technique on a four-man line), a strong ILB in Bobby Wagner (yet another 2012 draft pick), and, of course, the Legion of Boom (most notably, press CB Richard Sherman, center-fielder FS Earl Thomas, and big-hitting box SS Kam Chancellor). And if Smith’s pick-six was the game-changer, the back-breaker belonged to the biggest Super Bowl X-Factor of all time, offensive weapon/WR/KR Percy Harvin. Harvin played in one regular season game and one postseason game as a member of the Seahawks before Super Bowl XLVIII. His return TD of the second-half opening kickoff effectively ended any plans the Broncos had for a comeback.

The city of Seattle had not won a championship since the 1979 Seattle SuperSonics. That team packed up and left for Oklahoma City in 2008. It is great to see that the Seattle Seahawks could build a strong roster, use so many unique players, and beat a team that dominated the regular season. This was one of the most convincing Super Bowl wins of all time. And it took multiple layers of offense, defense, and special teams to pull it off.


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