The coin tosses in the 48 Super Bowls have been split right down the middle – 24 heads, 24 tails. Like the toss, the game’s random outcome shouldn’t be surprising. This game still shocked us.
The 2013-14 NFL season came to a close with one of the most lopsided scores in the history of the Super Bowl. The Seattle Seahawks would hoist the franchise’s first Lombardi Trophy by knocking off the Denver Broncos 43-8. Experts split down the middle for two weeks predicting and expecting a close but entertaining game of #1 offense v. #1 defense solid football. Would Peyton Manning challenge Richard Sherman with the long ball? Would the LOB contain those tall, strong Denver receivers? Those were the questions, but no one asked if Peyton could keep up.
The first offensive series started and within 12 seconds fans witnessed what would be a preview of the entire game. The 2-pts Seattle scored on the clumsy safety was a confidence boost for the Hawks, though they hardly needed one. The ball lofted over the head of Manning into the end zone for a safety, setting up the 5’11” Russell Wilson to take the field quickly and efficiently adding 3 more points. The B-Side stats started the game – fastest score ever in a Super Bowl and the only time a 5-point score would sit in the stat line. The Seahawks played with a confident swagger maintaining a unified front against all the nonbelievers which they labeled everyone but the 12th man. The Broncos never appeared to loosen up or find it’s rhythm and critics began the to sing the familiar “Peyton Can’t Win Big Ones” tune.
That’s not to say that the Broncos didn’t play a great game of catch. Denver’s offense set records with Peyton’s 36 completed passes and Demaryius Thomas’s 13 catches, both the most ever in a Super Bowl. None of that mattered because the B-Side stats. Manning would also find that Malcolm Smith’s 69-yard pick-6 would be 2nd only to the Tracy Porter 74-yard pick six that he threw in Super Bowl XLIV.
The number 12 would hit again at the beginning of the second half as Percy Harvin came out of locker room, on to the field and 12 seconds later would score on a kickoff return, taking the fastest record from Devin Hester (14 seconds.) Weeks past the concussion that threatened his opportunity to even suit up, the receiver shredded the Broncos special teams and dazzled the already electric crowd, some of them still dancing to Bruno Mars songs.
READ: Super Bowl XLVIII: Quarterly analysis of Seahawks’ 43-8 beating of Broncos, Nate Davis, USA Today
Russell Wilson’s 18-of-25 completed passes would yield 206 yards, roughly half of the number of Peyton covered in the AFC Championship game. But the B-Side would prove more crucial. No turnovers. That deserves repeating … no turnovers. The Seahawks offense didn’t attempt to break records, but rather set out to control the clock, hold the ball and keep Peyton cozy on the bench in the surprisingly warm New Jersey evening. In his post game interviews, Wilson was the giddiest we’ve ever seen, telling the “Why Not Us?” story over and over, referring to his Dad’s lessons and spirit that he shared with his teammates in that infamous players only meeting at the start of the season. Coach Carroll said that he was cautioned during the scouting process to not be turned off by Wilson’s confident statements because the kid actually believed every word of what he was saying. This season would make us all believers.
With key interceptions in 4 of the last 5 games, Malcolm Smith goes from 7th round draft pick and younger brother of Steve to the Super Bowl MVP. Those were certainly his B-Side stats as he hadn’t picked a pass all season until late in the season when it mattered most.
“You dream of winning the Super Bowl. But MVP? No. You put in the work and hope it’s enough. But, recently, you appreciate every opportunity that comes to you.” Malcolm Smith, Seahawks
Next season, if they vote Peyton Manning the MVP of the NFL, he should politely decline and offer it to another equally deserving player since it seems to be an omen. He won the last two awards as he twice lost the most important game on the biggest stage of the sport. His stats in this game were nearly the worst ever. The heaping amount of praise he received during the NFL Honors ceremony was quickly set aside once again for questions about his “legacy.” What’s most telling about his legacy is that if Peyton makes it back to the Super Bowl, it wouldn’t surprise a soul.
The Broncos now have the record for most Super Bowls lost with five big game defeats. The B-Side stat is the fact that got there seven times and have two trophies. Ask a Cleveland Browns fan or a Detroit Lions fan if they would trade places.
Until next season friends! And If the B-side reference is wasted on younger readers, ask your Mama.