Nobody could have foreseen Seattle’s 43-8 rout of Denver in the Super Bowl. Seattle took momentum and took charge early, and used its 2013 offseason prize to put the game away. And perhaps Denver’s mere appearance in the game portends better things for the Rams in 2014. With that, here are 10 quick takeaways from Seattle’s first NFL championship:
1. There are very few instances in which we can say a game turned on the first play, but this game was one of them. When Seattle deferred the opening kickoff, and then Denver’s botched play led to a safety on the first play from scrimmage, the die was cast for the entire contest. Denver was discombobulated, and Seattle was able to get the 12th Man revved up. I think this was as big a home-field advantage as we’ve seen in a Super Bowl since the Bears beat the Patriots after the 1985 season. After Seattle’s first field goal the crowd really bothered Manning, and the Broncos didn’t get a first down until late in the half. And of course, deferring on the kickoff led to Percy Harvin’s kickoff-return touchdown to start the second half.
2. Speaking of Harvin, Seattle stayed patient and never put him on injured reserve this season, and that patience was rewarded. His 30-yard run on the Seahawks’ first possession put them into field-goal range to make it 5-0, and his 15-yard run in the final minute of the first quarter helped set up Marshawn Lynch’s score that made it 15-0. Then, of course, he started the second half with his 87-yard return that provided an insurmountable 29-0 lead. Most teams aren’t deep enough to keep a guy on the roster who doesn’t do anything all year long. Keeping Harvin active despite his playing only seven snaps is a testament to Seattle’s depth and the club’s knowledge of how important he could be in big games.
3. There’s already lots of talk about the Seahawks being good for a long time, and there’s no reason they shouldn’t be. They have a very young team, they have a great general manager, and they have a coach who has succeeded through constant turnover at the college level. As long as they keep Russell Wilson, Earl Thomas and a consistent pass rush, they should be a force for years to come.
4. Even before the game, there was discussion of Peyton Manning’s legacy. Is any rational person going to say his legacy is tarnished by that one loss? The interceptions were forced by the strong Seattle pass rush, the snap over his head didn’t seem to be his fault, and Demaryius Thomas fumbled, too. Manning didn’t have a very good game, but to suggest that his performance tarnishes his legacy tells me that you have a different definition of legacy than I do.
5. If you would have told me before the game that Wilson would be 18 of 25 for 206 yards and two touchdowns, and that Seattle running backs would have 24 carries for 54 yards, I would have said it would have been a close game or a Denver blowout. That’s how much of a difference turnovers make. Pete Carroll says the most important thing to the Seahawks is the ball, keeping it on offense and taking it away on defense. That was the key to a rout rather than a nail-biter.
6. I was in New York for the weekend, and the scene was fantastic. The crowds were great, and the energy was high. It was a sensational experience (unless you happened to be a Bronco fan on Sunday night). That being said, the NFL got lucky. The forecast for New York/New Jersey on Sunday Monday was for freezing temperatures and five-eight inches of snow. Placing another Super Bowl in a cold-weather site and an outdoor stadium would be a major gamble.
7. I wasn’t blown away by the Super Bowl commercials. The ad people need to get creative again. And what’s up with trying to sell a typical viewer a Maserati Ghibli? The car starts at $66,900. As one person tweeted to me, the typical Maserati customer was at the Super Bowl, not watching on TV.
8. D’Marco said during a show last week that he wouldn’t be surprised if a defensive player won MVP honors, and lo and behold, Malcolm Smith did. That’s the guy who picked of Kellen Clemens to start the scoring in the Rams’ finale at CenturyLink Field. Cliff Avril or Harvin could have been given the new car without much argument, too. It is fitting that for this team’s Super Bowl victory, the defense gets the glory. The Smith touchdown tilted things in his favor.
9. I thought last week it was important for Denver to at least pose the threat of a running game. Well, its running backs had 13 carries for 27 yards. Montee Ball had six carries for one yard. Once the game got to 15-0 early in the second quarter and the Broncos were forced to throw, their offense – especially against the Seattle secondary – was rendered impotent. Even the great Manning can’t work from behind against a defense like Seattle’s.
10. The opener will be interesting next year. Seattle has Denver, Green Bay, San Francisco, the Giants and the Cowboys at home, in addition to the Rams, Cardinals and Raiders. I’ll be interested to see who visits the Seahawks for the now-traditional opener.
Bonus: I’ve always thought the Rooney Rule should be waived by the NFL if a team has its heart set on a coach, whatever race he may be. When Seattle fired Jim Mora Jr., after one season to hire Carroll, the move was made to get Paul Allen, who had been diagnosed with cancer, a Super Bowl. Of course, Allen is doing fine now. But the point is, the Seahawks had a guy they wanted to hire to win it all, and they were right. If you have the guy picked out whom you think can win you a Super Bowl, you should be able to hire him without limitations.
We’ll be talking free agency and the draft for the next couple of months. The Rams will have an interesting offseason, especially with the reported addition of new defensive coordinator Gregg Williams. Remember: The last time the Broncos were in the Super Bowl, the Rams followed with an appearance in Super Bowl XXXIV. Hopefully history will repeat what happened in 1999 15 years later in 2014.