The dust has settled, alongside the ticker tape. Super Bowl XLVIII is in the books. The game will go down as one of the least competitive whitewashes in Super Bowl History. The Seattle Seahawks dominated the Denver Broncos from the first snap, and never looked likely to relinquish the lead. With the benefit of a little time to reflect, we take a look back at the game in this Super Bowl recap.
Like many fans in the UK, we stayed up into the small hours of the morning to watch the game. Like many, we were excited about the prospect of a game which matched up the best offense in the NFL against its top defense.
Like many of you, we were disappointed with the outcome. We were disappointed that the NFL’s best offense simply didn’t show up. They did not appear prepared or ready for the game they were about to take part in.
The very first snap—a miscommunication between Peyton Manning and center Manny Ramirez, which resulted in a safety—set the standard for the rest of the game.
The Broncos, who had moved the ball freely throughout the season, looked out of sorts. Manning and his receivers rarely seemed on the same page. Miscommunication abounded, and regularly Manning was found throwing the ball to empty space. When the offense did connect, time and again, the Seahawks defense had the plays diagnosed and stopped them immediately.
Manning completed 34 passes—a Super Bowl record—on 49 attempts, for a respectable 69.3%. However, he posted only 280 yards through the air, or 5.6 yards per attempt. Throughout the season, Manning averaged 8.1 yards per attempt, and only one team—the Tampa Bay Buccaneers—averaged less than 5.7 yards per attempt. The Seahawks were simply happy to sit back and allow short completions, while the Broncos beat themselves.
Manning, and the Broncos also struggled with ball security. Manning was personally responsible for three turnovers—two interceptions and a fumble—while others also put the ball on the ground on multiple occasions too. Even when these were recovered by the Broncos, or overturned, it made moving the ball in the right direction, and maintaining momentum that much more difficult.
For the Seahawks, theirs was a simple task.
Their offense was conservative, prioritising protecting the football, and not making foolish mistakes, putting their defense in a position to dominate. Russel Wilson, who has often disputed his reputation of a game manager, once again demonstrated why people think this, and why he should not be ashamed of of the title.
Wilson was 18 of 25 for 206 yards and 2 touchdowns. His 72% completion percentage and 8.24 yards per attempt averages both surpassed the more experienced Manning, but were hardly record-setting numbers. Rushing, the Seahawks were reliable, but also unspectacular. The team’s four rushers (including Percy Harvin, a receiver and Wilson) combined for 135 yards on 29 attempts. This represented a respectable, but unspectacular 4.7 yards per play.
However, if you disregard the longest single play—30 yard end around trick play by Harvin, not a true “rush”—those numbers become even less impressive.
But, they didn’t need to be.
The Seahawks defense and Special teams were more than capable of posting points on their own. The defense posted 9 points—one touchdown, and a safety—while Harvin added 7 more on a kick return—all the more impressive, as the kickoff was a short, bouncing kick intended to keep the ball out of his hands.
By the end of the first quarter, a Broncos comeback seemed to be a tough ask. At the end of the first half, almost everyone agreed that the Seahawks win was assured.
Sadly, the result was predictable, and disappointing for anyone other than Seahawks fans, especially those in the UK who committed to staying up well past midnight in the hope of seeing a closely contested game.
For many, the Super Bowl is a big enough event that we can use as an introduction to the NFL for our non-football friends. Sadly, in 2014, the Super Bowl did not live up to expectations. But if this was your first taste of the NFL, don’t be put off. This game was anything but typical of a team like the Broncos. It was anything but typical of the NFL in general, where these sort of lopsided blowouts are few and far between.
In the end, it was the Super Bowl many of us feared, even if not the one we hoped for. Which is sad, because the potential remains that both of these teams could meet again in the Super Bowl in Arizona next season.
If they do, let’s hope the result is a little different.