“That’s what I love about high school girls…”
I was so disturbed by last Sunday’s Super Bowl that I didn’t know what to do. My initial reaction was to throw my hands in the air and say, “Sports make no sense, this is stupid,” and never try sports writing again. Then I thought I could wait a few days, let all the hoopla die down, pretend like the Super Bowl didn’t happen, and write another basketball blog. Maybe something about March Madness. Everyone will like that, won’t ruffle any feathers, get back to some normalcy.
But whatever it was that occurred that night has to be written about, or my head will explode. After spending a lot of time listening to talking heads on the radio, sorting through my thoughts, recapping my Twitter feed, and listening to the athletes themselves after the game, I was able to conclude three things that really don’t require too much analysis:
1. The Seahawks played very well
2. The Broncos played very poorly
3. The Seahawks are undoubtedly the better team – denying that is ludicrous
I can accept that. I can live with that. I generally subscribe to the idea that defense is not totally dead in the NFL and when the best offense faces the best defense, defense should win maybe 4/5 times. As a matter of fact, if you read our blog you know last week I picked the Seahawks (+3) not only to cover, but also to win straight up.
But I picked the Seahawks to win 23-20. 3 points. Not 43-8.
Look, I get it. Seattle played well, Denver played poorly, and Seattle is the better team. But 35 points? Russell Wilson and the Seahawks beat a 1st-ballot HOF guy by 5 touchdowns?
I didn’t know what to do with myself after that game. I felt like I had spent the last 4 hours of my life in the friggin Twilight Zone. So let’s start with stuff that was just plain weird in that game:
- Peyton Manning obliterated the single-season passing TD record this year. The Broncos lost by 35.
- Peyton Manning set a Super Bowl record for completions. The Broncos lost by 35.
- Seattle had only one sack and only 4 hits on Manning. And somehow, he looked more frustrated than we’ve ever seen him before
- Demaryius Thomas had 13 receptions for 118 yards and a TD, and he looked pedestrian at best
- Marshawn “Beast Mode” Lynch skittled his way to 39 yards rushing on 15 carries. Seattle scored 43 points
- The leading tackler in the Super Bowl was… No, not Kam Chancellor, but Danny Trevathan with 12 tackles (tied Gary Brackett for Super Bowl record)
- Seattle only won the time of possession battle by less than four minutes. (31:53-28:07)
- Percy Harvin was the leading rusher of the entire game with two carries and 45 yards.
- Steve Haushka (11 points) outscored the most prolific offense in NFL history by 3 points
- Bruno Mars actually didn’t suck, and the way they incorporated the Red Hot Chili Peppers was actually pretty cool. And Flea looking better with his shirt off than I do almost made me put my beer down. ALMOST.
Now for the things that weren’t weird, but just surprising:
- All that crap I hear about players needing to go to minicamp and OTA’s to be in “game-shape” for the regular season, and Percy Harvin who played like 3 minutes of football all year came in and was probably the Offensive MVP of that game. No one, and I mean NO ONE, on Denver’s Defense could keep up with him
- All that crap I heard all week about Peyton Manning being the best at “throwing his receivers open” and I lost count of the number of passes that were just flat out terrible. I’m not talking about 30-yard streaks or deep corner routes, I mean like, curl routes. 12-yard digs. Balls thrown way behind receivers, balls thrown two or three feet too high in tight spots.
- All that crap I heard about Russell Wilson being the “ultimate game manager” and I saw that 25-year old kid throw Doug Baldwin open on a beautiful floater pass over a possible future HOFer in Champ Bailey. I mean, at the beginning of the throw, Baldwin had a step on Bailey and by the end of it he had three.
- All that crap about Peyton Manning being the smartest human being to ever step on a football field and the best game plan he and John Fox could come up with was throwing 3-yard slants, 2-yard ins, H-back screens to Kno Kno and Montee Ball, and the SAME WR screen to Demaryius Thomas over and over again? Did Peyton Manning have any input on the game plan at all? That’s the plan to beat the L.O.B. Cover 3?
SIDE NOTE: “L.O.B. Cover 3” sounds like a Run DMC song. I’m humming it in my head right now. Put “My Adidas” on, listen to the beat and say, “L-O-B Hey! Co-ver 3 Hey!” … Awesome. I now have an imaginary Run DMC song stuck in my head.
- Other than maybe one play where Peyton went after Sherman (and the Broncos probably got away with a Pass Interference but let’s not twist the knife, here), Richard Sherman was a non-factor in a game where the Seattle D was pretty much credited with the “W” after the 1st quarter (3 tackles, 1 Pass Defended). I DO understand why Peyton would rather not throw near him, but I don’t understand avoiding him like the plague when you’re already down 29-0 with a half of football to go when you need big plays (especially considering he was hobbled/shaken up for most of the second half).
- The weather was perfect. I heard it was like, 49 degrees, low winds, no precipitation. THAT’S AS GOOD AS IT COULD HAVE POSSIBLY BEEN FOR DENVER AND THEY GOT OBLITERATED.
But then there were several things that didn’t surprise me:
- Three different Seahawks (Kam Chancellor, Malcom Smith, Bobby Wagner) had 10 tackles.
- Not only was Russell Wilson not sacked, he wasn’t even hit the entire game, demonstrating that you can show me all the stats you want about Denver being just fine without Von Miller, but the pass rush is nonexistent without him (or maybe Russ really is that quick and nimble in the pocket).
- The Seahawks played the exact same defense they’ve been playing all year. Cover 3 L.O.B. Luckily for them, The Broncos played right into it by designing one of the worst offensive gameplans I’ve ever seen in a Super Bowl.
- The Seahawks forced four turnovers
- Peyton Manning’s arm finally gave out. I mean, it just wasn’t there. Please, if you can bear it, go back and watch clips of that game. I don’t care how smart you are, if you can throw a deep ball with a tight spiral and a little bit of zip, you CANNOT beat the L.O.B. Cover 3.
- Richard Sherman is now saying that he and the Seahawks DBs figured out Peyton Manning’s arm signals and guessed pretty much all their play calls and routes correctly. Why am I not surprised? Because Richard Sherman is really, really smart. (which is also why we’re still talking about him after an irrelevant Super Bowl performance)
The Broncos got embarrassed. There’s no way around it, and there’s no argument against it. How else do you explain a record-setting offense scoring 8 points (in garbage time, by the way) in perfect weather? I don’t care who is playing defense. That’s embarrassing.
I am a boxing fan. Maybe not as big a fan as the Fillerbuster, but still a boxing fan. I am in NO WAY saying I am a boxer – or that I have an abundance of boxing experience. But I took a boxing class once. I was pretty good. Long arms helps with that, and most guys in my weight class just couldn’t get close enough. The guy who taught me boxing had a boxing team and threw the idea out there that I should think about joining the team.
Then I got my ass handed to me for the first time and never considered that idea ever again. I’m 6’3, and some dude who was like 5’10 and had the heaviest hands I had ever boxed against rocked my world. He got in close and just rocked my head back so many times that by the end of it, I felt woozy and the coach made me go and check to make sure I didn’t have a concussion.
THAT is what happened last Sunday. From the first snap of the game, the Denver Broncos got punched in the face real hard, and their leader had nothing to draw from in his arsenal to get his team to truly punch back.
I got embarrassed. Did I quit? No. I didn’t even get KO’d. But I got destroyed, and it WAS embarrassing. I wish it wasn’t. I gave it my best. Maybe that shouldn’t be embarrassing, but it was whether I want it to be or not. Great athletes in any sports should not get embarrassed and if they do, they should admit it, rip their team (if they need to be ripped) and find a way to punch back better the next time.
“It’s not embarrassing at all. I would never use that word. There’s a lot of professional football players in that room, that locker room, who put a lot of hard work and effort into being here and into playing in that game. The word embarrassing is an insulting word, to tell you the truth.”
-Peyton Manning after being asked if he was embarrassed
There are few athletes I truly admire. I generally shy away from trying to put these guys on some kind of pedestal and viewing them as life exemplars, but I really look up to Peyton Manning. Having said that, you got embarrassed dude. Whether or not you feel embarrassed is up to you, and sure, I hope for your sake you don’t feel embarrassed.
But you should. And if you ever want to win another Super Bowl, and subsequently quasi-re-enter the GOAT conversation by winning another, you should let your teammates know that performance is not OK.
The topic I most-wanted to shy away from talking about is Peyton Manning’s “legacy” that everyone keeps talking about. Let’s make one thing clear: This guy is undoubtedly a first-ballot HOFer, a multiple record-setting quarterback, and – in some ways – a medical miracle.
But having said that, after the Super Bowl he can in no way ever go down as the Greatest Quarterback of All Time (the GOAT). He’s the guy that you have to bring up in the discussion with about 4 or 5 other guys (Montana, Brady, Elway, Unitas, and arguably, Young) but then you say, well he never really looked too good in Super Bowls and somehow it always seemed like the spotlight really brought out his flaws.
Honestly, Peyton is very much the antithesis of Steve Young. Peyton was the overall number one pick 17 seasons ago, Young was the number one overall pick in a supplemental draft. Peyton started right away, Young backed up Joe Montana for a few years and had to win his job. Young became the prototype for the smaller, mobile quarterback that we are now seeing many teams move to today. Manning is big, slow, and lives in the pocket – the prototypical “franchise quarterback” all the scouts looked for until Kaepernick, Wilson, and RGIII came around.
What Steve Young lacks for in gaudy regular season passing numbers, Peyton has an abundance of. But the reason we love Steve Young – and the reason he cracks my list – is because he shined in the huge moments Peyton seems to shy away in.
I was listening to a sports-radio talk show host that I absolutely despise (which tells you a lot about how much I like sports if I’m listening to a guy I can’t stand JUST because he’s talking about sports) and he actually made a point that I feel I have to agree with. Even if Peyton Manning wins the Super Bowl next year, he can’t be the GOAT. I don’t know if he can be the GOAT if he wins the next two Super Bowls. After last Sunday, I just can’t see it.
Having said that, there are two sides to every coin and Seattle deserves all the credit for what occurred last Sunday. That is undoubtedly the best defense I’ve had the privilege of watching in my life. Even that Bears defense that carried a Rex Grossman offense to the Super Bowl got beat by Peyton Manning. This Seahawks defense is a combination of strength and speed I’ve just never seen before (which is part of the reason why I think there is some validity to the “whole team being on steroids” conspiracy… except for Russell Wilson for obvious reasons but I digress…). I can’t stress enough that Seattle did the EXACT same thing they did all year. Cover 3 L.O.B. Seattle’s D.C. knew his personnel and knew that the only place his Cover 3 was vulnerable was with the “Levels” concept; which is basically the idea that if you spread the field with short and deep options, the mid-range digs and sluggo-type routes will be open in the zone gaps. 3 teams beat Seattle this year: Indy, San Fran, and believe it or not Arizona. Each had a quarterback with an arm strong enough to employ that “Levels” offense. Quinn bet that either Manning didn’t have the arm, or Fox wouldn’t install the game plan and it paid off tremendously.
But at the end of the day, I think most of the country wanted Peyton to win. They were rooting for him. They wanted to see their hero seize the moment, solidify his legacy, and thrust himself into the GOAT conversation. But he didn’t. I hate to use the word, but he choked – the entire game. He wasn’t the smartest player on the field. If he was, why didn’t Denver make any halftime adjustments?
Peyton looked dazed and confused during the entire game. He looked like Matthew McConaughey watching all the young kids pass him by in Dazed and Confused. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wknywxfcE5M He just keeps getting older, that arm keeps getting smaller, and everyone else seems to stays the same age.
Elway, Montana, Young, Unitas, and Brady all could’ve very easily lost that game. But none of them would have allowed themselves to get embarrassed like that. And THAT is why we’re still talking about the Super Bowl, Elway. You of all people, should understand.