The 2013 NFL season reached what proved to be an anti-climactic ending tonight in New York, as the Seattle Seahawks buried the Denver Broncos 43-8 and won the Super Bowl. In doing this final installment of the Notebook Nine, our nine points to take away from the Seattle-Denver game, I now know how Joe Buck and Troy Aikman felt during the Fox broadcast, trying to fill up space. But while there’s not a ton to analyze from a purely football standpoint, there’s always the history books. So here we go…
*Let’s start with a congratulations to the sports fans of Seattle. They haven’t toasted a championship since the 1979 NBA Finals and the old Seattle SuperSonics. What’s more, there haven’t been too many chances to even sniff the champagne. The Seahawks had only made one Super Bowl prior to this year (2005). The Mariners have never made the World Series. The Sonics made it back to the NBA Finals in 1996, but that was against Michael Jordan’s greatest Chicago Bulls team, so there wasn’t even hope. Then Seattle lost the Sonics to Oklahoma City…right after they drafted Kevin Durant. Enjoy this one Seattle, you earned it.
*Where does Seattle’s defensive showing rank in the annals of Super Bowl lore? The 1974 Pittsburgh Steelers gave up the fewest points against the Minnesota Vikings (16-6) (Late note: Actually, the 1971 Dallas Cowboys beat the Dolphins 24-3). The 1985 Chicago Bears demolished the New England Patriots (46-10). But ’74 (and’71) was a different era and the ’85 Patriots had Tony Eason at quarterback. The Seahawks showing is in a class with the 2000 Baltimore Ravens, who beat the New York Giants 34-7, only allowing a special team’s touchdown. If you adjust for the caliber of the offense this year’s Seattle team had to face, I think they have the strongest case.
*I was glad to see Malcolm Smith get game MVP honors, if only because you had to pick a defensive player. Smith’s 69-yard interception return late in the first half was the big blow. Denver was trailing 15-0 and set to make a game of it, when Smith’s pick-six made it clear what direction this night was heading.
*The first Super Bowl champ of the heralded rookie quarterback class of 2012 is in. The Indianapolis Colts sold their soul to get Andrew Luck, tanking games to get the #1 pick. The Washington Redskins mortgaged their future, two first round draft picks and sending the Washington Monument to St. Louis to get Robert Griffin III. Scouts were in love with Ryan Tannehill, who went ninth to Miami. But it’s a third-round pick, a man whom even those of us who loved him at Wisconsin saw as no more than a decent backup that is the first to the hoist the Lombardi Trophy. A big congratulations to Russell Wilson.
*Seattle’s defense dominated so thoroughly that it’s easy to lose sight of the fact Wilson was 18/25 for 206 yards and no interceptions. If you had told me before the game that Marshawn Lynch would be held to 39 yards on 15 carries, I’d have figured the celebration would be in Denver. It’s rare we have to say “don’t forget the quarterback” after a Super Bowl, but Wilson did a lot more than just go along for the ride.
*Just how good is the Seattle secondary? While the Seahawk defense seemed to have steady pressure on Manning, in the end, they only had one sack and four QB hits. The biggest thing Seattle did was put most every defensive back up close, challenge Denver’s receivers and keep all of Peyton Manning’s Super Bowl-record 34 completions underneath. Those completions only went for 280 yards. Demaryius Thomas caught 13 passes for 118 yards, but anything beyond a few yards didn’t come until this game was long put to bed.
*Denver’s play was so bad that the temptation is to just write it off as a bad night against a really good team. But John Fox’s decision-making bore all the markings of a coach who was panicking early. He foolishly challenged an incomplete pass in the first quarter, thinking it was a lateral when even at full speed it clearly was not. His decision to spurn a field goal at 4th-and-2 late in the first half down 22-0 was a total panic button move and made me wonder if he had bet the Under on the totals line of 48. Predictably, Denver’s attempt to go for it failed, and even if they’d converted, would have still been outside the 10-yard line.
*Anyone that wants to blame Peyton for this poor display—go away. He only had one truly bad pass, a first quarter interception where he got happy feet under pressure and overthrew an open Thomas. Otherwise, plays were just not there to be made. It’s tough to perform when you’re either on the sideline or no one is open.
*What this game should do is finally force a rethinking of our obsession with the quarterback position. The constant framing of games as being QB vs. QB is just nonsensical. No sane person really believes Russell Wilson is better than Peyton Manning. I dare say Russell Wilson’s mom probably doesn’t even believe that. But Wilson is part of a complete team, a dominant one. Peyton was part of a team more complete than most, but not more than Seattle. The 2013 Seattle Seahawks were a complete team and it’s why they are champions.
The 2013 NFL season is now in the books. TheSportsNotebook will make that very literal at some point late this week or early next, when we release a compilation of all the blog posts published this season, from the 32 team previews of August, to the week-by-week chronicling of the regular season—every game was covered—and then the nine-point format used to preview and recap each and every postseason game.