I’ll be back shortly with a full column on the Seattle Seahawks’ stunning 43-8 take down of Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos in Sunday’s Super Bowl. Until then, here are my three “Short Takes” on the game (which tied for the third most lopsided Super Bowl in history):
1. Peyton’s meltdown: I wrote earlier in the week how Peyton Manning’s comeback from four neck surgeries to throw 55 touchdowns this season, culminating in a Super Bowl run, possibly elevated him to the No. 1 quarterback of all time. I still believe that. But he looked like a rattled rookie, not a 37-year-old Hall of Famer-in-waiting. Seattle’s defense was great but Manning didn’t handle the pressure well. He had passes either knocked down or deflected, leading to two first-half interceptions. The first led to a Seahawks’ touchdown drive; the second was returned 69 yards for a touchdown. The Broncos needed Manning to be their best player and he was far from that.
2. Pete Carroll, this is your Bar Mitzvah: He was fired from two NFL jobs (New York Jets and New England). He spent a year out of coaching before evolving into one of the game’s premier college head coaches at USC. But until this season, and maybe this game, complete respect had probably eluded him at the NFL level. Not anymore. Carroll and his staff thoroughly outcoached Denver’s John Fox and his assistants. Seattle’s defense was prepared for everything the Broncos tried to throw at it. Equally important, the younger Seahawks weren’t overwhelmed from being on the Super Bowl stage. They backed up all that smack talk that had so irritated their opponents (and their opponents’ fans). That kind of mental and physical toughness is a clear reflection of the head coach.
3. Defense wins again: We’ve heard before how offense wins games but defense wins championships. In this ever-changing league of spread offenses and hands-off rules that limit the effectiveness of defenses, it was nice to see a team emerge victorious, largely because it knew how to tackle and smack the opponent in the mouth. Seattle’s “Legion of Boom” secondary was tremendous, led by safeties Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas. The Seahawks were pitching a shutout until Manning’s touchdown pass to Demaryius Thomas as the third quarter ended, after Seattle already had a 36-0 lead.