I wanted to write a Super Bowl recap, but all I saw on Sunday was a preseason game. A college preseason game. The Seattle Seahawks destroyed, pummeled and decimated the best offense in the NFL and the future Hall of Famer who leads it. It was reminiscent of when the 2000 Baltimore Ravens destroyed the New York Giants, which was also the last time a team was held scoreless in the first half of a Super Bowl.
The game was ugly for the Denver Broncos from the kickoff.After an ill-advised kickoff return, the first snap of the game was botched. The ball flew over quartback Peyton Manning’s head into the end zone for a Seahawk safety. From there, the Seattle Seahawks marched down the field for a Steven Hauschka field goal, and then promptly stopped Manning with a three-and-out. Manning never looked secure in the pocket, due to the fact that the Seattle pass rush relentlessly punished the Bronco offensive line. The “Legion of Boom” cornerbacks stuck to Denver’s elite receiving corps like glue, punishing them with physical play every time a ball was caught.
The first quarter ended just after a Kam Chancellor interception, and the second quarter started with a few plays and a Marshawn Lynch touchdown run. The other score of the second would be a Malcolm Smith 69-yard interception return off a heavily pressured Manning pass. Smith would end up with a Super Bowl MVP due in large part to this return.
The rest of the game was highlighted by a Percy Harvin kickoff return for a touchdown to open the second half, and a Jermaine Kearse “Madden truck stick” moment to secure another touchdown. The only excitement to be had for Broncos fans in the game was a Demaryius Thomas touchdown reception and a Wes Welker two-point conversion at the end of the third quarter to make it 36-8. There would be no miracle here, and in the fourth quarter Doug Baldwin caught a 10-yard pass for a touchdown to punctuate a dominant victory.
The Broncos really had no answer defensively for Seattle, and although Denver put up better numbers offensively, it was clear that the Seahawks were running a confident and clicking offense the duration of the game. The Seahawks were better, faster and stronger on defense, and Peyton Manning was never able to set his feet and run his offense the way we’ve grown so accustomed to. There was frankly no point during the game from the initial safety onward that it seemed the Broncos were going to emerge victorious.
Looking toward the future, this game does not bode well for the Broncos, or the AFC as a whole. It’s pretty clear, and cornerback Richard Sherman agrees, that the real Super Bowl was in the NFC Championship Game two weeks ago. The 49ers were the second best team in the NFL, and frankly I’d say that the Panthers, Saints and Packers are probably better than nearly any team in the rival conference. The Patriots, Colts, Broncos and the rest of the conference need to draft well, retool and bring something better to the table next season if they want a chance to truly be better than their NFC counterparts.
Denver in particular needs to get linebacker Von Miller back, upgrade their lines and devise some sort of strategy that can keep Manning upright while competing with defenses like the ones in Seattle, San Francisco or Carolina. Manning’s career clock is ticking and the Broncos need to act now.
On the Seahawks’ part, if you’re a fan you are absolutely thrilled right now. You have a young team and quarterback just realizing his potential, a deeper set of defensive backs than any other team in the league, a beloved coach and Super Bowl rings on all of their fingers. If I had to pick a Super Bowl favorite right now, it would be a toss-up between the Seahawks and their division rival Niners. The Seahawks are going to be very good for a long time, and the only thing that can stop them is their elite competition within their conference and particularly their division, which is the best in football. The only way this year could get better for Seattle is if they snatch the SuperSonics back. It was a great NFL season, and Seattle was the best team the whole way. It’s only fitting that this was the way they went out. Here’s to seeing what they do next year.