The Seahawks are Super Bowl champions for the first time after whacking the Broncos 43-8 on Sunday night. Coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider spent the last four years building the toughest, deepest, most versatile defense in football. Their vision was fully realized for the world to see on the game's biggest stage. (Not bad for a coach that was fired twice in his NFL career.)
"We're not sleeping tonight," an elated Carroll told the media. "We're staying up all night because this party's gonna get started as soon as you guys let me go."
For so long, we thought the weather would be a factor in the first outdoor Super Bowl in the Northeast. Peyton Manning and the Broncos got perfect conditions -- it was 49 degrees at kickoff -- but the worst possible opponent.
Seattle pushed Denver's offense around at every level of the defense. Pass rushers Chris Clemons and Cliff Avril consistently beat Denver's tackles and made Manning uncomfortable. (Avril helped force two interceptions.) When Manning did have time to throw, he couldn't find receivers open quickly. Safety Kam Chancellor made a few huge hits and picked off Manning to set the game's tone. Richard Sherman and Byron Maxwell did an incredible job on the outside against Denver's outside receivers. Linebackers K.J. Wright and Bobby Wagner were all over the field. (And I haven't even mentioned linebacker Malcolm Smith, who miraculously won the game's MVP award.)
We're mentioning so many names because this Seahawks' defense is about more than just the star players and the Legion of Boom secondary. It's a true team that is excellent at all the little things. They hit. They don't allow yards after the catch. And they force game-changing turnovers, like Smith's 69-yard pick six.
The Seahawks' defense made Manning and company look like a collection of also-rans. Manning was forced to move in pocket on nearly every throw. Denver's running game was stymied. Every first down was a struggle.
Russell Wilson was terrific on third downs and did his part, but the Seahawks' offense was practically an afterthought for much of the game (like much of the season). The score was 29-0 after Percy Harvin returned a kickoff for a touchdown to start the second half. At that point in the game, the Seahawks' offense had ust 13 points. And seven of those points came on a short field after a turnover!
It was almost hard to believe what we were watching Sunday night. The Broncos' offense, the picture of efficiency all season, looked completely overwhelmed. They weren't ready for the moment; Seattle was.