Super Bowl XLVIII Review

Super Bowl XLVIII Review: Seahawks vs. Broncos

By Loot, NFL Handicapper,

Date: February 2, 2014

Site: MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, New Jersey

Point Spread: Denver Broncos -2/Seattle Seahawks +2

Score: Seattle Seahawks 43, Denver Broncos 8

MVP: LB Malcolm Smith

Super Bowl 48 featured the best defense in football in the Seattle Seahawks against the best offense in the league in the Denver Broncos. Not only was Denver the best offense in the league, but their production was historically-prolific. Quarterback Peyton Manning set records with 55 touchdowns and had a slew of electric receivers, with Knowshon Moreno carrying the load with over 1000 yards.

Seattle, however, had kept pace with the Broncos during the regular season, doing it just a little differently. They depended on a capable playmaking quarterback in second-year Russell Wilson, with a big dose of run from Marshawn Lynch. Their main strength was a defense that was strong in all aspects. They applied vast amounts of pressure up-front, anchored by a secondary known as the “Legion of Boom.” The nickname illustrated their hard-hitting potential, but this secondary was just as good in covering receivers–even record-setting units like what the Broncos brought to the table in this game.

The game featured an interesting contrast– the high-flying Denver offense against the more-physical Seattle unit. The quarterback battle pitted the Hall of Fame veteran Manning against the greenhorn Wilson, as unlikely a Super Bowl-winning quarterback as you could possibly envision. Both teams entered this game 15-3 and came into the playoffs as their conference’s number-one seed. The Broncos got into the big game with a tough home win against San Diego, followed by an easier win against the New England Patriots in the conference title game. Seattle, meanwhile, had crushed the Saints in the divisional round, before winning an absolute war against the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC title game.

Super Bowl XLVIII Recap:

First Half: It’s hard to think of a Super Bowl that got off to a more-bizarre start. After fielding the first kickoff, Manning was calling an audible and center Manny Ramirez snapped the ball prematurely, with the ball going into the end zone. RB Knowshon Moreno recovered it and was downed in the end one for a safety to make it 2-0, Seattle. The Seahawks then took the free kick and Percy Harvin’s 30-yard end-around set up a field goal to make it 5-0. A Denver three-and-out led to another Seattle possession where QB Russell Wilson parlayed a 37-yard pass to Doug Baldwin for another Hauschka field goal to put Seattle up 8-0. On the ensuing Denver possession, Manning threw an interception to Seattle safety Kam Chancellor, giving the Seahawks the ball at the Broncos’ 37-yard-line. Another Harvin contribution and a pass interference call gave Seattle first and goal at the one, where Marshawn Lynch punched it in for a touchdown. The extra point made it 15-0.

Denver offered some glimpses of promise by at least getting a first down and they appeared to be moving the ball well when disaster again struck. Seattle’s Cliff Avril, who had partly caused the first interception, again got in on Manning forcing a pass to become a ball that was up-for-grabs–picked off by game MVP Malcolm Smith and run in for a touchdown from 69 yards. The score was now 22-0. Denver looked to end the half on a high note and were driving. Inside the Denver end zone, the Broncos faced a 4th down and elected to go for it, but a Manning incompletion gave the Broncos something else to hang their heads about as they went into the locker-room down 22-0.

Second Half: A short Prater kickoff to open the second half was picked up by Seattle’s Percy Harvin, who ran it back 87 yards for a touchdown to make it 29-0 and you could sense reality setting in on the Broncos. Denver again showed life later in the quarter when Manning completed a pass to Demaryius Thomas, who then fumbled it with Malcolm Smith recovering it. Seattle took advantage and drove down the field, culminating with Jermaine Kearse catching a 12-yard touchdown pass. Five different Denver defenders had a chance to stop Kearse, but the score was now a lopsided 36-0.

In a case of too-little-too-late. Denver went on an 80-yard drive, with Thomas catching a touchdown. A successful 2-point conversion made it 36-8. Any infinitesimal chance of a comeback was soon snuffed out. The subsequent failed onside kick gave the Seahawks good field position and Russell Wilson and Company steadfastly marched down the field. A 10-yard touchdown pass to Baldwin increased the lead to 43-8.

The final 11 minutes of the game featured no scoring, but the issue had already been decided, with Seattle winning their first-ever Super Bowl. Despite scoring only 8 points, Peyton Manning set a Super Bowl completion record with 34 and Demaryius Thomas set a receptions mark with 13 catches. On the strength of a pick-six and fumble recovery, Malcolm Smith was named the game MVP. With the Seahawks 2-point underdogs entering the game and winning by 35, the point-spread was off by 37 points–an all-time Super Bowl record. While Seattle winning was hardly an earth-shattering surprise, the manner in which they dominated certainly was.

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