(This story appeared in the February 6th issue of The Stall, the student run newspaper of Brookdale Community College.)
They say defense wins championships. The Seattle Seahawks proved that on Sunday night against the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII (48) at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ.
Kickoff was at exactly 6:32 PM as Broncos return specialist Trindon Holliday returned the opening kickoff from nine yards into the end zone. The first play from scrimmage however, resulted in a safety as Broncos’ center Manny Ramirez snapped the ball over the head of Peyton Manning as he attempted to call an audible. The ball rolled out the back of the end zone, resulting in a safety and a 2-0 Seahawks lead.
The Seahawks then got the ball back and added some trickery on their first play from scrimmage. They handed the ball off to the explosive Percy Harvin, who ran for a thirty yard gain and a fresh set of downs. They drove down the field and attempted a 26-yard field goal, but a false start knocked them back five yards. Seahawks’ kicker Steven Hauschka then nailed the 31-yarder, extending the Seahawks’ lead to 5-0.
Holiday let the ensuing kickoff fly out the back of the end zone, but an unsportsmanlike penalty tacked on fifteen yards, giving the Broncos the ball at the 35 yard line. The Seahawks defense forced a quick three-and-out; it was the first time the high-powered Denver offense failed to score during their first two drives during the postseason. Seattle started at their own 28-yard line and converted three consecutive third-downs with passes to Golden Tate and two to Doug Baldwin, the second putting the Seahawks on the six-yard line. A holding penalty pushed them back ten yards, but Hauschka managed to add three more with his second field goal to extend Seattle’s lead to 8-0.
Denver started at the 20-yard line but Manning over threw Julius Thomas and was intercepted by Seattle strong safety Kam Chancellor. Seattle then came out with another end-around to Harvin and picked up another first down. A short completion over the middle ended the first quarter with Seattle ahead 8-0.
Seattle faced another third down and came up short with an incomplete pass, but a pass interference put the ball on the one-yard line for Seattle. They hammered it into the end zone with Marshawn Lynch two plays later for the first touchdown of the game. Seattle now led 15-0.
Denver started to get something cooking when Kowshown Moreno, who attended Middletown High School South before having a standout college career at Georgia, converted two first downs. Manning then completed a big third-down pass to Wes Welker for a sixteen-yard play that got the Broncos past midfield for the first time.
But the Seattle defense would not back down. Cliff Avril got pressure on Manning as he was attempting to throw a pass. The ball floated in the air and into the hands of Seattle’s Malcom Smith, who ran it back 69 yards all the way for a touchdown. The Seahawks extended their lead to 22-0.
Holiday took out the ensuing kickoff and appeared to fumble the ball, which was recovered by Seattle, but they reviewed the play and he was ruled down. Denver maintained possession, and Manning completed a big third down on a fade route to Demaryius Thomas and quickly hit Julius Thomas for another first down just prior to the two-minute warning. The Broncos then went for it on 4th and 2 with 1:06 left in the first half just inside the red zone, but the pass was tipped and it fell incomplete. Seattle ran the ball to run the clock down and headed into the locker room ahead 22-0.
It was the first time a team was shut out in the first half since the Giants in Super Bowl XXXV (35) against the Ravens. They headed to the locker room trailing 10-0.
While the halftime show entertained the fans, it did not cool down the Seahawks. Broncos’ kicker Matt Prater kicked the opening kick-off of the second half shallow to keep it away from the explosive Percy Harvin. It did not matter however as Harvin ran up and caught the ball on a hop and breezed past the coverage team as he returned the kick 87 yards for a touchdown. Seattle continued to pile it on, leading 29-0 at this point. The Seahawks also made history as they became the first team in Super Bowl history to record a safety, an interception returned for a touchdown and a kickoff returned for a touchdown in the same game.
After a three-and-out by each team, the nightmare for Denver continued as Demaryius Thomas caught a pass for a big gain, but fumbled the ball which was recovered by Malcom Smith, who had a pick-six earlier in the game. It was the third takeaway of the game for the Seahawks. Just for good measure Russell Wilson hit Jermaine Kearse for a 23-yard touchdown to make it 36-0 with 2:58 left to play in the third quarter.
The Broncos drove down the field and Manning connected with Demaryius Thomas for a touchdown just as time expired the third quarter. They successfully converted the two-point conversion as Denver finally got on the board. After three quarters, Seattle had a rather comfortable 36-8 lead.
Denver started the fourth quarter with an onside kick, but Seattle recovered. Wilson added a touchdown pass to Doug Baldwin to make it 43-8, and that would ultimately be the final score. Seahawks linebacker Malcom Smith was named MVP as he had a pick-six as well as a fumble recovery. He was drafted in the seventh and final round of the 2011 NFL Draft.
This game was really dominated by Seattle from the start. It was the top offense going up against the top defense, but Peyton Manning just could not get anything going against the best secondary in the NFL. The Seahawks also are not going away anytime soon, as they have tied the 1971 Miami Dolphins as the youngest team to win the Super Bowl with an average player age of 26.4. They are a powerhouse with a stifling defense and a lot of weapons on offense. They can play pound the football on the ground with Marshawn Lynch, who is one of the most consistent backs in the league, and all Russell Wilson does is win. They will be a force in the NFC for years to come.
Congrats to the Seahawks and Broncos on a terrific season. Now, it’s time for baseball.