Super Bowl Review: Game wasn’t a “disaster”

Posted: 02/04/2014 by levcohen in Football

Ok, so the Super Bowl was a blowout. It started with a safety, was 22-0 at halftime, and was 29-0 after Percy Harvin’s kickoff return touchdown to start the second half. In fact, it was the first 43-8 final in NFL history, and it was a shocking result. In the days after the game, people have been calling the game a disaster. I understand where they are coming from: this game was supposed to be one of the best and tightest Super Bowls of all time. It was not, although that didn’t affect the average TV viewership (113 million), which smashed the record. The bigger point is that the disaster label is not fair to the Seahawks or, frankly, to the Broncos. First of all, this matchup was hands down the best team in the NFC against the best team in the AFC. It wasn’t the 1985 Super Bowl, when the superior Chicago Bears came into their game against the New England Patriots as 10 point favorites and won by 36. The Seahawks defense is similar to that of those ’85 Bears, almost uniformly regarded as the best defense of all time (before this year, at least); in fact, defensive lineman Michael Bennett illustrates that nicely:

“This is one of the best defenses ever to play the game, statistically,” Bennett said. “We’re the best defense since the ’85 Bears.”

It’s just that the Broncos are a heck of a lot better than those ’85 Patriots, who went 11-5 in the regular season before winning three road games in the playoffs before getting smoked by the Bears. People have thrown away all that the Broncos did this season. The fact that their quarterback had the best season of all time doesn’t matter anymore. Neither does the fact that they broke the scoring record. Some of the people who were talking up the “historically great offense that was going to crush the Seahawks” called the Broncos a disaster a day later.

Calling the game a disaster is an insult to the Seahawks, who just shut down one of the best offenses of all time. I think the Seahawks have just placed themselves in what was a historic group of three: those ’85 Bears, the ’00 Ravens, and the ’02 Buccaneers. These are the three best teams since the dominant Steeler teams of the 1970s. All three teams have a place in history as Super Bowl winners. All three were the dominant regular season team. Defensive players won Super Bowl MVP on all three teams. Before this year’s Seahawks, those three teams sported three of the last four defenders to win the MVP.  The Seahawks have now joined that group, and none of the other three teams can say that they shut down a top-5 all-time offense. Saying that the Seahawks defense is the best of all time is a stretch, and it would be a large overreaction. But they put themselves in the conversation, and I would say that it’s fair to call it the best defensive Super Bowl performance of all time.

Yes, the game ended as a blowout, and yes, it would have been nice to see a more even game. But in some ways it’s refreshing to see it end like this. Unlike in recent times (the Ravens of last year, the Giants, etc.) the best team clearly won, and they won the way they have won all season. This was not a “weird” Super Bowl, it was a true representation of the matchup between the two teams. I didn’t predict a blowout, but with the benefit of hindsight it made some sense. It sounds hypocritical to call the Broncos one of the best offenses of all time and then say that their eight point showing was an accurate representation of them, but the Seahawks had just the perfect defense to foil them. Their secondary was at least as good (and this is ALL SEASON, not just on Sunday) as Denver’s wide receivers. The defensive line was able to penetrate. You couldn’t have drawn up a worse matchup for Denver, and we saw what happened. The argument for Denver was simple: it’s Peyton’s year. And it definitely scared me, almost to the point that I picked the Broncos. Peyton Manning, one of the best QBs of all time, almost swayed me to picking Denver. But the Seahawks were the better team, and it was refreshing, and definitely not “disastrous”, to see that the better and more talented team won, and not the team with “destiny”.

If this game were played 100 times, I think the Seahawks would win 70% of them. Denver was unlucky, but not amazingly so. They had a clear game plan, and they actually ended up doing what they set out to do: they stopped the run (Seattle couldn’t run it at all) and they completed short passes (Manning completed 34 passes but his average attempt gained less than six yards). It’s just that Seattle was too good for them, and Denver was a much more injured team, with many of their top defenders injured to go along with their top offensive lineman (Ryan Clady). This game wasn’t a fluke, it was just a good representation of the talent and schematic differences between the two teams. And isn’t that how it’s supposed to be in sports?

  1. philabundant says:

    Good points, but I think you don’t note one other crucial factor…the Seahawks had a huge coaching advantage, which is one reason why they so effectively shut down the Denver offense.

    • 5toolstar says:

      that’s true to an extent, but it’s also a lot easier to coach when your personnel is so much better. I actually think that neither Carroll or Fox are great in-game coaches, but Carroll is definitely less bad.

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