For those of us without a dog in the fight, Super Bowl XLVIII wasn’t exactly a thing of beauty.
The Seattle Seahawks crushed the Denver Broncos, 43-8, taking the lead 12 seconds into the game when the Broncos couldn’t complete a snap from center to quarterback and things really never got a lot better for Denver.
There’s already a lot of “D” talk, not as in “defense,” but as in “dynasty,” a nod to the Seahawks roster matching the 1972 Miami Dolphins as the youngest Super Bowl champions ever.
And for one Sunday, Seattle also—in this age of high-powered offense and rules that encourage the passing game—showed that the age-old idea that defense wins championships can still ring true.
Because make no mistake, Seattle’s defense won this particular championship. The Seahawks defense dominated the No. 1-ranked Denver offense, forcing four turnovers and holding the Broncos to 306 total yards (although it felt closer to 30 than 300, given the way the game played out).
Malcolm Smith was the MVP—just the third linebacker ever to win the award, joining Chuck Howley of the Cowboys in Super Bowl V and Ray Lewis of the Ravens in Super Bowl XXXV. Smith helped break the game open with his 69-yard interception return for a touchdown with 3:21 to go in the first half that gave Seattle a 22-0 lead. Smith also picked up a fumble recovery in the third quarter and had 10 tackles.
If there were any hopes the Broncos could mount a second-half comeback, they were dashed in about the length of time it took Percy Harvin to return the second-half kickoff 87 yards for the back-breaking score, also 12 seconds into the half.
So, in the arcane stats department, the Seahawks outscored the Broncos 9-0 in the first 12 seconds of each half.
Harvin had four touches in the game, two runs for 45 yards, a catch for five yards and a kickoff return for 87 yards and a touchdown. So for a guy who many thought could be the Super Bowl X factor, he lived up to that billing.
What was surprising was how effectively Denver bottled up Beast Mode. Marshawn Lynch mustered just 39 yards on 15 carries. But Russell Wilson was what he’s been a lot this season, quietly efficient in completing 18-of-25 passes for 206 yards and two touchdowns and gaining 26 yards on three runs.
For the Seahawks, it is the franchise’s first Super Bowl championship and the Broncos took a record fifth Super Bowl loss. While it’s easy to point and laugh and say, “Wow, they suck; they lost more Super Bowls than anyone,” you’ve still got to be a pretty good ballclub to get the chance to lose five Super Bowls.
The obsession with the weather leading up to the game turned out to be a complete non-factor, but it will be interesting to hear the experts attempting to define Peyton Manning’s so-called legacy over the coming couple of days. I’m not a huge fan of attempting to write an athlete’s legacy while they’re still playing; it makes for entertaining (but ultimately empty) debate and it will reinforce the ever-popular “rings are the only thing that matter” mentality and the continued insistence on crediting quarterbacks with wins and losses.
So 2013 in the NFL is done and it’s on to the offseason. Free agents will change teams, college players will be drafted and we’ll start the process all over again when training camps open in July.
With the Seattle Seahawks as defending Super Bowl champions for the first time.
Not for nothin’, but the last two defending Super Bowl champs didn’t even make it back to the playoffs the following year, so maybe the dynasty talk is a tad premature.