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Super Bowl XLVIII – February 2, 2014 – Rutherford, New Jersey – Seattle Seahawks 43-8 Denver Broncos
I may have predicted Seattle were going to take it all at the beginning of the season, but I had expected at least a contest. Instead, the highly touted Denver Broncos and their celebrated quarterback, Peyton Manning, simply got eviscerated. Super Bowl XLVIII, in spite of predictions that it would be dreadfully cold, rendering the stadium two-thirds empty, turned out to be none of them. On a relatively warm night of 45 degrees Fahrenheit, the greatest match-up never took place as Denver’s record-breaking offense turned out not to be an irresistible force but a whimpering immature toddler that self-destructed instantaneously against a minimal show of adult defensive force.
Peyton Manning threw 55 touchdowns this season, but on the night that mattered at MetLife Stadium, he could only manage one, a brief bit of trickery in a flip to Demaryius Thomas after the game was long lost. Pretty ironic considering Manning’s record of 33 passes in a Super Bowl and Thomas’ 13 receptions, all for naught.
Seattle? All I can say is wow! In this, the very first Seahawks’ NFL championship, Quarterback Russell Wilson, in just his second year in the league, was basically perfect, completing 18 of 25 passes for 206 yards and two touchdowns. Needless to say, it was their defense which stole the show, four forced turnovers telling the story. The combined destructive masterwork that is Seattle’s defensive backfield—a/k/a the ‘Legion of Boom’—which strangled and eviscerated the celebrated Denver passing game. The hero of the night, Linebacker Malcolm Smith who rightfully won the game’s Most Valuable Player award after returning one Manning pass for a touchdown and recovering another.
The beginning was a true surprise as Seattle scored the fastest points in Super Bowl history without even a touch as Denver received the kickoff and a goofy miscommunication 12 seconds in between Manning and Manny Ramirez led the center to snap the ball over his quarterback’s head. Luckily, although running back Knowshon Moreno recovered in the Broncos’ end zone, the damage of two points was done and the psychological first-blood turned out to be massive instead of a possible seven.
The Seahawks made better use of their first possession, driving down the field for a 31-yard Steven Hauschka field goal to make it 5-0. Denver then wasted good field position, going three-and-out before punting the ball back to Seattle. The Seahawks moved quickly down the field to put another three points on the board, and it was 8-0.
Desperate at the close of the first quarter, the Broncos grew slipshod and Manning was intercepted by Kam Chancellor. The Seahawks took full advantage and, seven plays later, Marshawn Lynch charged into the end zone. There was no respite or comeback for the Broncos as Manning soon threw his second interception. This one returned for a 69-yard touchdown by Smith. Down 22-0, Denver were basically punchy and done.
So when the second half began and Percy Harvin returned the opening kickoff 87 yards for a touchdown, the Broncos were down by 29. Wilson then supplied Jermaine Kearse for a 23-yard touchdown after Byron Maxwell stole the ball off Thomas.
A shutout looked possible until the final play of the third quarter when Manning followed up a 13-yard touchdown pass to Thomas, converting a two-point attempt with a completion to Wes Welker. After that every Denver play was like shooting craps. Too many gambles and they paid yet again in the fourth as, attempting to get the ball back with an onside kick, it was picked off by Zach Miller. He recovered magnificently at Seattle’s 48-yard line and the Seahawks drove straight down the field for yet another touchdown as the brilliant Wilson found a flying Doug Baldwin and a 10-yard score.
The Broncos had been the bookies’ darling throughout the season, but, in the end, Peyton Manning just didn’t own the wherewithal to create a contest against coach Pete Carroll’s pitch-perfect Seahawks’ defense. Didn’t your mama tell you, good defense always wins out over good offense every time! No contest! Seattle take it!
And remember: Never bet against the Bagg!