Eww. That was one horrible, one-sided, bore of a football game we were all forced to endure on Sunday. Super Bowl XLVIII, for all its hype and seemingly endless storylines, straight-up flatlined. It took all of 12 seconds and one offensive snap for the Broncos to be on their heels and the Seahawks to be on the attack. And after Manny Ramirez‘s errant snap fluttered over Peyton Manning’s head and into the end zone for a safety, for all intents and purposes, the game was over. The writing was on the wall. It was the story of the day: the Broncos were sloppy and ugly, and the Seahawks capitalized time and time again.
Yes, I’m a Broncos fan, but I think any genuine football fan outside of Washington state will agree with me when I say that yesterday’s matchup was not a fun game to watch. In the last decade, we’ve been spoiled with close game after close game on Super Bowl Sunday. Not yesterday. That, my friends, was as ugly a football game as the hundreds of millions of Super Bowl revelers had seen in quite a while. So, the question has to be asked: what went wrong? What happened? Why did this game fall SO short of the huge expectations we had for it? Well, I’m here to explain, as only a devastated Bronco fan can.
Yes, the main reason that this game didn’t go as planned for Denver was the good ol’ turnover battle…or more specifically, losing the turnover battle egregiously. Anytime a team turns the ball over four times (and hell, it’s really even more than that: the safety, turning it over on downs, etc), that team usually loses the game. Throw in the fact that Seattle didn’t commit a single turnover, and right there, you have the recipe for an absolute freaking disaster. Ending up -4 in turnover differential is a surefire way to lose a football game. And lose, the Broncos did.
In the Trenches
The Broncos also lost this game so badly, in a large part, by getting completely outclassed up front on both offense and defense. The Broncos O-Line – which had held up SO well all season, despite not having All-Pro left tackle Ryan Clady, starting center J.D. Walton, and starting guard Chris Kuper – got absolutely MANHANDLED by Seattle’s pass rush. While Peyton Manning didn’t have his best day ever by any means, he did not have the time and space he had been afforded all year to make plays. It seemed like every time the ball was snapped, it only took a tenth of a second for Broncos’ tackles Orlando Franklin and Ryan Clark to get blasted 10 feet backwards by Seahawks’ rushers like Cliff Avril, Chris Clemons, and Michael Bennett. Manning, who has never had the ability to scramble around quite like that slippery Russell Wilson, never stood a chance.
On the other side of the ball, the Seahawks’ O-Line did a fantastic job containing the Broncos’ Miller-less pass rush. Russell Wilson had ALL kinds of time all game long, was not sacked once, and was only hit by a player in blue and orange one time. While the Broncos’ interior line and linebackers did a great job containing Marshawn Lynch – which was certainly their game-planned, #1 priority – the exterior line and pass rush failed to lay a finger on Wilson, and he operated with ease. When the Seahawks threw in a few reverses to a finally-healthy and finally-electric Percy Harvin, the Broncos’ edge players weren’t up to stopping it, either. I thought if Seattle was to win, they would have to do so with a power running game. Instead, they CRUSHED the Broncos with finesse and speed. Interesting how things work out.
At the end of the day, the Broncos myriad injuries in 2013 finally caught up to them. Peyton Manning and Co would NEVER use that as an excuse, but frankly, the Seahawks (other than Percy) were a much healthier team, and it showed. The Broncos greatly missed Clady on the offensive line, and greatly missed Miller’s presence on defense. They greatly missed Chris Harris covering the slot, and greatly missed Rahim Moore picking up receivers in zone. The list goes on. The Broncos were a beat up team missing too many starters to not get exposed eventually. The Seahawks, meanwhile, had all of their key contributors at their disposal on Sunday, with the added bonus of Percy Harvin. I’m not making excuses for my team, as they got THOROUGHLY outplayed and embarrassed…but there is some truth to the assertion that this game could have gone differently if both teams were healthy and at full strength.
Hell, I still honestly believe that if the game were played again next Sunday, the result would be mighty different. Yes, the ‘Hawks would probably still win, but I don’t think the Broncos team that showed up on Sunday was the true Denver team from this season. I guess we’ll never know. For now, we’re all left with what was the reality: four hours of a beatdown that didn’t make for good television, or good football.
Tags : Bronco, Broncos, Denver, Denver Broncos, featured, football, NFL, Percy Harvin, Peyton Manning, Seahawks, Seattle, Seattle Seahawks, sports, Sports Takes, Super Bowl, Super Bowl 48, Super Bowl XLVIII