Seahawks’ rugged defense, team unity just too much for Denver in 43-8 loss
By CHRIS HAVEL
Even in an outdoor, open-air stadium Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos looked like the roof was caving in on them. There are many ways to win a football game and the Seattle Seahawks explored them all in a 43-8 rout of the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII Sunday at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. Head coach Pete Carroll’s high-energy, take-no-prisoners Seahawks scored via a safety, an interception return, a kickoff return, a pair of field goals, two touchdown passes and a rushing touchdown.
Seattle’s thorough dismantling of Denver occurred on every level. If any Broncos outperformed their Seattle counterparts the list is short.
The Seahawks forced four turnovers while committing none.
One of the most important came with Seattle leading 8-0 and Manning looking to answer on the ensuing drive. Facing third-and-7 at the Denver 23, Manning’s wobbly pass sailed too high for Julius Thomas and into the hands of Seattle safety Kam Chancellor for an interception.
The Seahawks’ offense then clicked off a 7-play, 37-yard touchdown drive that was extended by a Denver penalty and capped by a Marshawn Lynch 1-yard touchdown run to make it 15-0. On Denver’s next possession, Manning misfired when he was hit while releasing the football. The errant throw was picked off by Seahawks linebacker Malcolm Smith, who went 69 yards for a touchdown to push Seattle’s lead to 22-0 at the half. Smith, the game’s MVP, had 10 tackles, a fumble recovery and the interception return. Bobby Wagner, Chancellor and Smith each had 10 tackles to spearhead a defense that played smart, tough and together.
“The only way we could say we were the best defense was to take down the best offense,” Wagner told reporters after the game.
Russell Wilson missed high on his first pass attempt.
Frankly, it’s the only poor pass I recall him throwing all night. He finished 18-for-25 for 206 yards and two touchdowns. Wilson also threw accurately and confidently while converting 7 of 12 third down plays. Wilson, at 5-11, stood tall in and out of the pocket. He played with an impressive mixture of poise and precision while making more than enough plays to lead Seattle to victory.
“We’ve been relentless all season,” Wilson said. “Having that mentality of having a championship day every … at the end of the day, you want to play your best football and that is what we did today.”
Percy Harvin, the X-Factor, made his presence felt early with a 30-yard gallop on an end around.
He sealed Denver’s fate with his 87-yard touchdown return on the second half’s opening kick to make it 29-0. Carroll’s decision to defer after winning the coin toss proved fortuitous. He put his best unit on the field to open the game, and he put one of the game’s most dangerous return men on the field to start the second half. If anyone ever wondered what a near-perfect Super Bowl XLVIII performance looks like, well, this was it.
“This is an amazing team,” Carroll said afterward. “Took us four years to get to this point, but they never have taken a step sideways. These guys would not take anything but winning this game.”
The mild weather with the temperature at kickoff 49 degrees seemed as if it would favor Manning and the Broncos.
It didn’t matter because Seattle’s defense controlled Manning and the NFL’s top-ranked offense from the outset. Denver ran just four plays in the first quarter and never found its rhythm against the Seahawks. Manning finished 34 of 49 for 280 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. He was sacked just once but was constantly harassed and finished with a miserable 73.5 quarterback rating. Manning is now 1-2 in Super Bowls and 11-12 in the playoffs.
Seattle’s GM, John Schneider, and its offensive coordinator, Darrell Bevell, were instrumental in the Seahawks’ Super Bowl ascendancy.
Bevell worked for the Packers from 2000-2005 as an assistant coach, and Schneider – a De Pere native – had two stints with the Packers’ personnel department (1993-96, 2002-2009). Both are extremely professional, humble men who have risen to the top by combining their talent with an incredible work ethic.
Perhaps one, or both, will return to Green Bay if the right opportunity presents itself. While Packers GM Ted Thompson and head coach Mike McCarthy aren’t going anywhere in the foreseeable future, isn’t it interesting that Seattle – once criticized for stealing Green Bay’s front office – may be the franchise to gripe about the Packers taking their coaching and front office talent?