Strength versus strength, top seed versus top seed, the story lines leading up to Super Bowl XLVIII were dripping with intrigue as the teams were getting set to kick off at New York’s Metlife Stadium yesterday. The game was pit as an almost storybook-like narrative consisting of a cast of football’s brightest stars playing out the final act of the season on football’s grandest stage.
A hero– future hall of famer Peyton Manning making another Super Bowl run in the twilight of his career, riding his Broncos to a potential final run into the New York night. A villain– Richard Sherman, as outspoken as he is talented, the league’s best cornerback is a menacing force and one the league’s top defensive players. He essentially takes away the teams best aerial threat on any opposing team and isn’t shy of letting them know about it. The folkloric defense– the Seattle Seahawks defensive unit has been the terror of the league this year, with few chinks in it’s armor this defensive side ranks with the all-time greats. The underdog– Russell Wilson, the talented second-year quarterback with all-world potential. The quarterback occasionally gets lost in the shuffle behind Seattle’s highly venerated defensive unit. Would the young signal caller be able to show the same poise on the biggest stage that he showed throughout the past two seasons or would he crumble underneath the bright lights and in the shadow of one of the all time greats in Peyton Manning?
The characters, plot, and stage were set for a memorable battle for the Lombardy trophy, however the game itself failed to live up to the media hype– the Super Bowl was far from anything ‘super’ in terms of an actual contest as the game resulted in the 43 – 8 pummeling of the Denver Broncos, in a game that never gained any traction in the form of a contest. The Seattle Seahawks dominance and an electrifying half-time performance by singer Bruno Mars and the Red Hot Chili Peppers were the two biggest takeaways from the event, with the latter receiving more praise than the actual game itself.
The highly anticipated bout between the Denver Broncos’ history rewriting offense versus the league’s most feared defense in the Seattle Seahawks’ “Legion of Doom”was to be a memorable showcase; however, the climax of the 2014 season fell far short of its assumed greatness, and sorely lacking among Super Bowls’ to remember.
In one corner, you had the league’s record breaking offense and passing attack of the Denver Broncos, led by uber quarterback, 5-time league MVP Peyton Manning; at his disposal, one of the leagues most formidable supporting casts with the likes of Demaryius Thomas, Julius Thomas, Wes Welker, Eric Decker, and Knowshown Moreno. Manning’s side took the league by storm this year putting up points at a torrid pace, rewriting most of the major passing records. In the opposing corner, the Seattle Seahawks, anchored by the league’s stingiest and most ferocious defense, ranking first in all major defensive categories. However the Super Bowl itself, while being the highest watched television show in U.S. history, failed to meet expectations. The potential would prove an unfulfilled promise with the Seahawks blowing out the Broncos 43 – 8, with Seattle never really letting the AFC Champs in the contest.
The lopsided victory, a game which NFL analysts, odds prognosticators, and fans alike expected to be an intriguing conclusion to the NFL season, never appeared to resemble the match up expected by most; the Broncos, a team that set 6 team offensive records this season, was unable to even muster a single first down until about 19:30 into the game. A testament to Seattle’s defense which harassed Manning the entire contest, forcing two interceptions by Manning, one which fell into the hands of eventual Super Bowl MVP Malcom Smith for a 69-yard touchdown. The interception came at a pivotal point in the game giving the Seahawks a comfortable lead just before half and just as the Broncos started to show some signs of life.
The Seattle Seahawks and their stout defense fired on all cylinders for most of the four quarters and managed to it keep its vice grip on the Denver Broncos all night. Peyton Manning was hit by wave after wave of defensive pressures making the league’s MVP look “skittish” at times in the pocket as reported by Skip Bayless on ESPN’s First Take. The Broncos never really found their footing and ended up scoring 8 points, 29.9 points below their regular season average. The blowout was a decisive victory for the Seahawks who stole the show earning themselves a place among other historic Super Bowl winning defenses even making a case for best ever.
Manning finished 33 of 47 for 266 yards with one touchdown and two costly interceptions. The 5-time MVP set one final record with 33 completions in the Super Bowl.
Weather not a factor after all
The league’s first New York/New Jersey Super Bowl was gaining criticism prior to kick off for being placed in a cold weather state during February, with analysts weighing in on whether or not Roger Goodell’s choice to host the event in New York was a good decision. The weather did not prove as much of a factor as the fans in attendance may have. The opening snap botched by Peyton Manning and center Manny Ramirez happened in a moment that appeared to be in inaudible and described as “ruckus” by ESPN First Take’s Stephen A. Smith. The center’s miscue with Manning gave the Seahawks a safety and two points during game’s opening play, claiming in an article posted by Josh Alper of NBC Sports that “[we] never heard the snap count”.
Not to be overlooked in this game was the play of Seattle Seahawk’s all-time defense and the underwhelming play of Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos was the 2nd-year quarterback Russell Wilson. Wilson played poised and confident on the game’s biggest stage completing 18 of 25 passes for 200 yards (including 43 on the ground) and two touchdowns.
Bruno Mars shines
The game was extremely one sided and not much of a contest for most of the night but had a bright spot during half-time of the telecast as Bruno Mars gave a stellar performance to the city of New York and the largest television viewing audience. The performance by Bruno Mars, which showcased the two-time Grammy award winning artist’s singing voice as well as dance moves was able to electrify the crowd with the help of the Red Hot Chili Peppers and may have proved to be one of the evening’s bigger highlights.