Five Things We Learned from the Seahawks win over the Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII
Matt Vensel shares his takeaways from Sunday's Super Bowl, which Seattle won over Denver, 43-8.
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1. Defense can still win championships in the NFL( Matthew Emmons, USA Today Sports / February 2, 2014 )
Perhaps the story of the 2013 NFL season, strictly speaking of things that went down on the football field, was a Denver Broncos offense that piled up points like a quick-thumbed teenager playing his grandmother at "Madden." With Peyton Manning at the trigger, the Broncos scored more points during the regular season than any team previously had. The Broncos averaged a ridiculous 37.9 points per game. Manning, who threw seven touchdown passes in a Week 1 win over the Ravens, established new single-season NFL records with 5,477 passing yards and 55 touchdowns. Four Broncos pass-catchers had double-digit receiving touchdowns and running back Knowshon Moreno rushed for 10 touchdowns, too.
Their prolific offensive season was the latest indignity toward NFL defenses, which are pretty much playing with one hand tied behind their backs due to rule changes that have opened up the field for passing attacks. The proliferation of spread offenses has led to teams using three wide receivers on more than half the plays and quarterbacks are now throwing more than they ever have, helping NFL offenses to move the ball in big chunks up and down the field with relative ease. In recent years, teams like the Indianapolis Colts, New Orleans Saints, Green Bay Packers and, yes, even the 2012 Ravens, have relied on offense to win the Super Bowl. But a dominant performance from the Seattle Seahawks last night is proof that you can still win championships with defense in today's pass-happy, high-scoring NFL.
The Seahawks responded to the challenge of defending the Broncos' video-game offense by hitting the console with a sledgehammer and ripping the power cord from the wall. They harassed Manning right from the start, disrupting him with a relentless pass rush that didn't need to sack him to make an impact. They pounded his wide receivers after the catch, giving up little ground. And with committing extra bodies, they were able to smother a Broncos running game that had taken advantage of soft boxes all season. Manning had just 10 passing yards in the first quarter and he threw a pair of first-half picks, including one that was returned for a touchdown by linebacker and Super Bowl MVP Malcolm Smith. When Smith crossed the goal line to put the Seahawks up, 22-0, the game was essentially over before halftime. The Seahawks finally yielded a touchdown on the final play of the third quarter, but in winning 43-8, they were the first team to hold their Super Bowl opponents to single digits since the 2000 Ravens.
The Seahawks have a poised young quarterback and a couple of really dangers playmakers on offense who helped them blow out the Broncos, but score one for a Seattle defense that showed that the old line about defenses winning championships can still be more than a cliché in today¿ offense-friendly NFL.