In a defensive display not seen since the 2000 Baltimore Ravens or the 1985 Chicago Bears, Seattle hurried and harassed Denver into four turnovers en route to a 43-8 pasting in Super Bowl XLVIII last Sunday at Metlife Stadium in New Jersey.
The score at halftime was 22-0, and it wasn’t until the end of the third quarter that the slightly-favored Broncos crossed the goal line when quarterback Peyton Manning hit wide receiver Demaryius Thomas with a 14-yard pass and found wide receiver Wes Welker on the two-point conversion.
Just how bad was it for the NFL’s record-setting offense? On the opening play from scrimmage, an ill-timed snap from center Manny Ramirez sailed over Manning’s head and went into the end zone which running back Knowshon Moreno recovered after being tackled by defensive end Cliff Avril (three tackles) for a safety.
And with 12 seconds having elapsed, the blowout was on as the Seahawks (16-3) claimed their first-ever Vince Lombardi Trophy which also made one-time USC Head Coach Pete Carroll the third to win a national championship and Super Bowl, joining Jimmy Johnson and Barry Switzer.
“It took four years to get to this point,’’ said Carroll, who saw his team compile 341 total net yards including 135 rushing, while Denver (15-4) was held to 306 yards. “They’ve never taken a step sideways or backwards to take this team where it is now. This trophy is going back to the 12th man.”
Carroll meant Seattle’s home-town crowd which is the loudest in the NFL and saw the Seahawks lose only once this season.
Seattle’s secondary is called the “Legion of Boom,’’ but the entire defensive unit proved too much for Manning, who threw for a record 5,477 yards and 55 touchdowns during the regular season.
Manning passed for 280 yards and completed a Super Bowl-record 34 passes on 49 attempts, but struggled, often over-throwing receivers or simply finding them tightly covered.
Manning, who was recently named the NFL’s Most Valuable Player for a fifth time, was intercepted twice, including linebacker Malcolm Smith’s 69-yard return with 3:21 left in the second quarter that made it 22-0.
“I’ve always thought about making big plays,’’ said Smith, the one-time USC product who had nine tackles, “but I never thought I’d be named MVP of the Super Bowl.”
Steven Hauschka’s two field goals in the first quarter from 31 and 33 yards made it 8-0, and when strong safety Kam Chancellor (10 tackles) picked off Manning it set up running back Marshawn Lynch’s one-yard blast with 12 minutes left before the half as Seattle dived ahead 15-0.
Percy Harvin took the second half kickoff and returned the football 87 yards for a score which made it 29-0, and when Thomas (Super Bowl-breaking 13 catches for 118 yards) fumbled which Smith recovered, Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson (18 of 25 for 206 yards and no picks) marched the Seahawks 58 yards with the capper his 23-yard toss to wide receiver Jermaine Kearse (65 yards on four receptions) and 2:58 showing in the third quarter that made it 36-0.
Wilson’s 10-yard bullet early in the fourth quarter to wide receiver Doug Baldwin (66 yards on five receptions) supplied the final points.
And so it went for the Seahawks, while the Broncos couldn’t wait for the clock to strike triple zeroes.
Rick Assad has been a sportswriter for more than two decades. He has a political science degree from UCLA, a journalism degree from CSUN, is a staff writer for diamondboxing.com, and is a columnist for socalboxing.wordpress.com. You may e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.