WASHINGTON – I picked the Seattle Seahawks to win it all before the season. But I didn’t see this coming.
Seattle lowered the “Legion of Boom” right on top of the unsuspecting Denver Broncos’ collective heads in a 43-8 beatdown that once again proved that even in today’s pass-oriented NFL, an age-old NFL mantra is still an absolute truth: Defense wins championships.
The point was hammered home emphatically on Sunday. All three phases of the game — offense, defense, and special teams — crossed the goal line for the Seahawks, who scored the game’s first 36 points en route to the third largest blowout in Super Bowl history.
For the first time since 1990, the top offense met the No. 1 defense in the Super Bowl. And for the fourth time in the last five such games, the top defense stood as the best team when it was all said and done.
As if shutting down the highest scoring offense in NFL history wasn’t enough, the Seahawks D boasts the first defensive player to win Super Bowl MVP in 11 years. Linebacker Malcolm Smith etched his name in the record books with nine tackles and a 69-yard pick off Peyton Manning that resulted in a touchdown and sealed the deal in the first half.
It was ironic this game was played on Groundhog Day. Denver has lost a league-record five Super Bowls. And for Manning, this was his NFL-record 12th postseason loss and his second straight legacy-altering Super Bowl defeat. Again Manning threw a killer interception, which was returned for a touchdown, and again he leaves us wondering if he’s got the chops to actually carry a team to a title.
Many forget Manning’s lone Super Bowl victory came when the defense carried him to it. He tallied 3 TDs and 7 INTs in that 2007 playoff run, and his Colts won in Baltimore despite failing to score a touchdown. If the previously 32nd-ranked Colts defense hadn’t risen from the dead during that postseason, we’d be grouping Manning with Dan Marino and Fran Tarkenton.
Meanwhile, Richard Sherman — who was on crutches after the game because of a right ankle injury suffered in the fourth quarter — didn’t have a big statistical game. But he didn’t have to. Sherman may be the loudest member of The Legion of Boom, but he’s far from the only big-time performer. The only way you take down a record-setting offense like Denver’s is with a total team effort. And that’s exactly what Seattle did.
For a team entering the game widely considered “the bad guy,” the Seahawks managed to turn their first title into one heckuva feel-good story. As almost a tribute to their long-suffering fans, The 12th Man, the Seahawks scored a safety 12 seconds into the game. The oft-injured Percy Harvin took the second half kickoff 87 yards to the end zone just 12 seconds after halftime. And what better way to start Black History Month than to see Russell Wilson out-duel Manning to become just the second black QB to win a Super Bowl?
The beauty for Seattle is that they pulled off perhaps the best all-around Super Bowl performance in NFL history with the youngest-ever Super Bowl winner at an aggregate 26.4 years old, meaning they could be at or near the top of the league for years to come. I know I said the same thing about the Packers in the wake of their championship run three years ago, but they’ve never had a defense like the Seahawks.
Pete Carroll appears to be the right man to lead this team for the long haul too. He’s just the third coach to win a Super Bowl and an NCAA national title, which is rare in any sport. His combination of leadership and pure enthusiasm was exactly what this team needed to overcome their lack of playoff experience entering this postseason.
So drink it in, Seattle. Not only is the drought over, you could actually have a dynasty on your hands.