LOS ANGELES, February 2, 2014—It was supposed to be the game of the year, but Super Bowl XLVIII turned out to be a giant mismatch. Only a few weeks after the Seahawks beat up Eli Manning and the Giants, they returned to Metlife Stadium in the greater New York metropolitan area and humiliated his older brother Peyton.
The event itself began awkwardly when Super Bowl III hero Joe Namath flipped the coin before heads or tails was chosen by Denver. His flub was quickly forgotten by a flub once the game began.
Seattle lowered the Legion of Boom on Denver’s offense on the first play from scrimmage and never let up. From the Denver 14-yard line, confusion at the snap caused the ball to be snapped high over Peyton Manning’s head for a safety. The Seahawks led 2-0 only 12 seconds into the game. After the free kick, Steve Hauschka hit field goals from 31 and 33 yards out to make it 8-0 Seahawks. The first quarter would end with the Broncos having only one yard rushing and zero first downs.
In the second quarter after Denver nearly fumbled it away, on the next play Manning was intercepted by safety Kam Chancellor, setting Seattle up at the Denver 37. Defensive pass interference on Denver led to Marshawn Lynch banging in from one yard out to make it 15-0 Seahawks.
Manning finally got the offense going with an eight-minute drive. On third and 13 from the Seattle 35, Manning was hit by Cliff Avril as he threw the ball. Last week’s hero Malcolm Smith intercepted it and raced 69 yards for a touchdown as the Seahawks had a 22-0 lead over the shell-shocked Broncos with only 3 1/2 minutes left in the half.
Last year after the second half kickoff was returned for a touchdown, the lights were turned out due to an electrical problem in the Superdome. This year, a short kickoff was deliberately done to avoid Percy Harvin. Harvin took it on a high bounce, broke tackles, and raced 87 yards for a touchdown. Just like in the first half, it took exactly 12 seconds into the second half for the Seahawks to score. The 29-0 lead did not affect the electricity, but this time it was the Seahawks who turned out the lights.
Manning went deep to Denarius Thomas, but Thomas had the ball chopped out of his hands. Malcolm Smith recovered the fumble. From the Denver 23, a short pass to Jermaine Kearse went for a touchdown when five Denver defenders forgot how to tackle. The Broncos had mailed it in as the Seahawks led 36-0.
On the last play of the third quarter, Manning threw a 14-yard touchdown pass to Thomas as the Broncos trailed 36-8 but prevented the shutout. The onside kick failed and Wilson would throw a 10-yard touchdown to Baldwin to make it 43-8 Seahawks. Manning was hit and fumbled for Denver’s fourth turnover on the day.
The 35-point blowout was tied for the third largest margin in Super Bowl history. Manning now has two Super Bowl losses to go with to his one victory. He is still one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time, but discussion of him as the very best will probably be put on hold.
The 2013 Legion of Boom Seahawks defense will not rank with the 1985 Bears, 2000 Ravens, or the Steel Curtain of the 1970s, but they are now in the history books. The Pacific Northwest saw the Seahawks win its first Vince Lombardi Trophy in two trips while the Broncos became the first NFL team to lose five Super Bowls to go along with their two wins.
Pete Carroll became the third coach to win championships at the college and NFL levels. Carroll was given two Gatorade baths by his players instead of one. In one of many postgame interviews, the joyful Carroll said, “We’re not sleeping tonight. This party is getting started as soon as you guys let me go.”
Malcolm Smith became the third linebacker to win the MVP trophy. Russell Wilson became the fourth quarterback to win the Super Bowl in his first two seasons. A bizarre moment occurred during Smith’s postgame interview when a deranged man seized the microphone and yelled that 9/11 was an inside job perpetrated by the American government. Smith remained relaxed and mentioned that somebody should “check his press pass.”
The normally loquacious Richard Sherman, who created a storm after Seattle won the NFC Title Game, was very relaxed and mellow after the Super Bowl. He knows that Manning likes to simulate defenses in practice, but pointed out that it is tough to simulate the speed and aggression of the Seattle defense. He refused to call the Seahawks the best defense ever, simply saying he was glad they were even in that conversation mix. When asked if he was the best cornerback in the league right now, he smiled and said, “Yes, sir.”
Hilarity ensued when Doug Baldwin interrupted Sherman’s press conference to tell everybody that “this cornerback is mediocre.” Sherman laughed and jokingly called Baldwin “pedestrian.”
The normally quiet Marshawn Lynch remained that way.
Peyton Manning made no excuses, saying that the Seattle defense “caused a lot of our mistakes.” The word “Omaha” was not heard once, perhaps because of the noise that the 12th man brought from Seattle to New York.
Denarius Thomas set a Super Bowl record with 13 receptions, which was of little consolation.
A gracious John Fox, when asked how a Denver offense that set a record 606 points in the regular season could muster only one score, said, “We just simply ran into a buzz saw.”
What the Broncos ran into was the Legion of Boom. On this Groundhog Day, the only shadows seen were Broncos receivers nervously dreading the constant battering from approaching Seattle defenders.
The Seahawks defense talked it. Then they walked it. They began the game and ended the 2013 NFL season with a boom. 43-8 Seahawks, NFL Champions