Well folks it’s all over and the Seahawks are the team taking home the Lombardi. Not only did they win this one, I think it would be fair to say they taught us all a lesson in how to put together a team and play this game.
There really is no denying that this was a complete blowout. So let’s go through each team and see what they did well and what they did poorly. Quick Spoiler it will tend to be the things the Seahawks did well and what the Broncos did poorly.
The Denver Broncos
It almost looked like a different team. At the start of the season we saw nothing but optimism as the Broncos breezed past the newly crowned Baltimore Ravens in what would be a familiar sight, as Peyton went through the season throwing touchdown pass after touchdown pass. The Superbowl was a different affair however. Let’s take a look at what went wrong for the Broncos.
The game started bad for the Broncos, when confusion at the line meant that as Manning was walking forward to change things up, the ball got snapped over his head and downed in the end zone for a safety. This to me was when the Broncos lost the game. After this we didn’t see the usual Peyton Manning, we didn’t see any clever changes at the line, we didn’t see him physically moving his Offence so they were in the exact place he thinks will provide a mismatch, we didn’t see any clever attempts to make the Defensive line jump and we didn’t see the attempts to call out a Defensive player just as he snaps the ball to catch them napping. No we saw a very ordinary QB. Someone who should have been the Broncos difference maker became just another player. So why was this? Well I would imagine he got spooked after the very first snap, something that a QB we consider to be one of the best of all time should be able to get over. Also he was up against a fearsome opponent in the Seahawks Defence, who have to be probably the best Defence of the last 5 years. The fact remains that whatever it was took the Broncos out of this game. The one area where they were superior they were now exceptionally pedestrian. Every play felt like a screen or a slant, just anything to get the ball out of Manning’s hands quickly as the Seahawks felt managed to get a pass rush going and rely on arguably one of the best secondaries of all time to take the Broncos Receivers out of the game. On the odd occasion Manning would air it out, it was generally off of play action and more often than not broken up by the Secondary. It felt like they had a rigid plan and it was not working. Manning wasn’t alone in looking pedestrian. Running back Knowshon Moreno looked like the player we all feared he would become a few years ago rather than the breath of fresh air we had seen all season. The Receivers, aside from Demaryius Thomas were virtually nowhere to be seen. Welker, who had played so well in the previous game, was no match for the Seahawks Secondary. Not to get all sci-fi geek on you, but somewhere in a parallel universe, that first snap went perfectly. Only in that world will they know if Manning would have been able to play his normal game. My money would be on the Seahawks eventually rattling him and although the score would have been closer, it would still be a Seahawks win. One final thought on the Offence. I’m sure Manning has a couple more years in him, but it is only a matter of time before he starts to lose some of his talent. The Broncos need to start looking for a replacement or they will be left behind in a Division that is just going to get better.
On Defence there is no denying they have injury issues. Chris Harris for example is one of the best Defensive backs that doesn’t wear Blue and Neon Green. Von Miller, whilst not being a huge factor, could have made some plays in a big game like the Superbowl. But it felt that with the Broncos Offence not playing as well as they had all through the season, the Defence would struggle to keep the score low enough for Peyton to win them the game. The Defensive game plan was transparent and something I had talked about in my preview. Keep it simple stop Lynch. Force Wilson to make mistakes. Well they got the first half right. Lynch was a non-factor in this game, but provided a great distraction for Wilson to make plays to his young but talented Receiving Corp, including a freshly healthy Percy Harvin. The Problem this Defence had was that as they were so concerned about Lynch, they bought every single attempt at play action and there felt like a lot and every time this happened, it always felt like the Seahawks would at least get a first down. When a team has a multi-talented weapon like Harvin it becomes more of an issue. It genuinely felt like the Broncos had no answer for him and in particular got taken to pieces by the MVP candidate on an end around. Not helping the Broncos cause, would be the turnovers, that at least in the first half left them constantly defending within their 20 yard line and it felt up against an Offence that already had their number. Whilst I can come up with endless excuses for the Broncos Defence, there is no excuse for regularity that they missed tackles and made their own jobs even harder. The Kearse Touchdown was a fantastic play from an underrated Receiver, but he should have been brought down after the first tackle. You know the Seahawks wouldn’t allow that.
The Broncos have to be worried about the next season. After one of the most dominant Offensive season long performances, when put under pressure, the man that was brought in to take this team over the hump. Couldn’t do it, something that unfortunately has to count against his legacy. There is no mistake. It will be a long off-season for the Broncos.
The Seattle Seahawks
We all knew the Seahawks would be good this season. But what we have witnessed is one of the most complete teams for a very long time. Sure they hit a few stumbling blocks along the way and at times, dare I say it, even looked beatable, but the fact remains they got hot at the right time…actually they got scorching.
I’ve been Russell Wilson’s biggest critic. I have constantly failed to see what the rest of the world seems to, but I stand by the fact that whilst I don’t think he’s the best QB in the world (definitely top 8); he is a perfect fit for this team. Ok he could probably fit into most teams and look pretty good and lead them to a few wins. But on this Seahawks team its perfect. With the talent that they have on Defence and in Marshawn Lynch, he is asked to do just enough to win games. In this game however it was on his shoulders. Lynch seemed to attract the attention of the Broncos D, leaving Wilson free to make plays with his feet, air it out to his young Receivers who love getting yards after catch. Wilson was at the top of his game after a little trickery. It felt like every time this Seahawks team attempted play action, it had the Broncos buying it completely, often leaving Receivers with enough space to make a play. Wilson’s accuracy was 2nd to none in this one too. Passes would be inch perfect and put in places that only his player could make the catch. Wilson was given the game to control and he did so perfectly, for that I give him a round of applause.
If Wilson was a handful then Percy Harvin was just an added extra that would come on for a few plays and leave the Broncos D scratching their heads. Harvin is such a talented player and whilst the Seahawks didn’t need him to win this game, he was a very welcome addition. The Seahawks line had a good game too, giving Wilson enough time to make plays and hold onto the ball for as long as he needed, which behind most lines would leave him hitting the ground countless times. When all put together this Seahawks Offence is dizzying to watch and a complete match up nightmare as proven by the Broncos D. Unfortunately for their NFC West rivals, they are also mostly exceptionally young and will prove problems in the future.
As good as the Offence was, it was the Defence that caused the most problems for the Broncos. A Defence that can in my opinion boast one of the best secondaries I have ever seen. If Revis has an Island, the Seahawks have the Canaries. So why are they so good? Well for starters they are big for a secondary, means they can jump with the tallest Receivers and out muscle Tight Ends, but size would usually mean they lack pace. Whilst they might not be the quickest they can hold their own, also their football smarts more than make up for any speed issues. For me it’s about their positioning and almost an ability to know exactly where the other members of the secondary are. Much like the rest of the team they complement each other perfectly. In this game the Broncos could not get a pass to connect, thanks in large part to some exceptional pressure from their Defensive line. If the Seahawks can force you into making mistakes, then they are very hard to come back from and will more than likely force you to make more mistakes. Which is what happened here. After the Broncos went down the Seahawks Defence made it pretty much impossible to get back in the game, capitalising on a “Rabbit in the headlight”, version of Manning. Much like the Offence this is a young Defence and could actually still improve. Which is frankly scary.
The Special teams are worth a mention too, with the usual incredible Punt unit backed up by an amazing Kick Return from Percy Harvin. Making it 3 out of 3 in areas where they were dominant.
Before I leave you I think it has to be mentioned that the most impressive thing about this Seahawks team is their work ethic and ability to work as a complete team. When you watch them play, it just feels like they’ve figured out their opponents and know exactly how to beat them. Unlike the past few years, you get the feeling there could genuinely be a team here that could go on to win it for the next few years and franchises in the middle of rebuilding couldn’t go far wrong to use them as a model for their franchise.
Congratulations Seattle, it was thoroughly deserved.
Right, that’s the season. See you next season… Ha of course not, I’ll be as active as ever during the offseason, so next time let’s get into the ins and outs of the 32 NFL teams.