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NFL Super Bowl XLVIII: Review

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The Seattle Seahawks thrashed the Denver Broncos to cruise to their first ever NFL title, winning Super Bowl XLVIII by a score of 43-8 in New York, the third biggest blowout in the game’s history.

Within twelve seconds the NFC Champions were ahead, as the safety forced by Cliff Avril became the quickest score in Super Bowl history.

Quite frankly, it was an error the AFC Champions never recovered from. The Seahawks led 36-0 before Peyton Manning’s side finally scored on the last play of the third quarter.Manning’s opposite number, second-year quarterback Russell Wilson, was coolly efficient for Seattle, throwing for two touchdowns. 

Seahawks linebacker Malcolm Smith returned an interception for a 69-yard touchdown late in the first half, and Percy Harvin returned the opening kick-off of the second half 87-yards for another score, as the clinical Seattle team thoroughly dismantled the pre-match favourites.

The game could not have started any worse for the Broncos. Trindon Holliday ambitiously attempted to return the Seattle kick-off from the back of his own end zone, but was rapidly shut down and halted at his own 14-yard line.

Then, on the first snap of the game, a miscommunication between quarterback Manning and centre Manny Ramirez saw the ball fly into the Denver end zone. Knowshon Moreno dived on the ball, but within moments he was brought down by Avril for the safety, and Seattle had the lead of the Super Bowl in record time.

Not only did the Seahawks have the lead, but they also had possession of the football, with Golden Tate’s kick-return ensuring that his team started just short of midfield. Thankfully for the Broncos, their defence had arrived at the game on time, and were able to restrict their opponents to a field goal and a 5-0 lead.

But Denver’s offence could not take advantage, with a three-and-out signifying the first time in all of the post-season that the Broncos have failed to score on consecutive drives. Seattle marched back up the field and netted a second short-range field goal through Steven Hauschka.

At this stage, Seattle’s only regret would have been the failure to turn possession and field position into touchdowns. Nate Irving produced a wonderful bit of defensive play to knock the ball out of Jermaine Kearse’s hands in the end zone, on the penultimate play of the Seahawks second drive.

However, with the Broncos continually handing them opportunities, it was inevitable that the Seahawks would eventually force their way over the goal line. Three plays into Denver’s third drive of the game and Manning’s pass, intended for Julius Thomas, was intercepted by safety Kam Chancellor. Eight plays later, and Marshawn Lynch bundled the ball into the end zone from a yard out.

As if to sum up their plight, when Denver finally got some offence going on their next drive, retaining possession for almost nine minutes, their efforts were ended when Manning’s pass, intended for Moreno, was picked off by Smith, who escaped a couple of tackles and scampered back down the field for the score.

Seahawks players, coaches and fans were delirious, they had intercepted Manning twice, and had a huge, seemingly unassailable half-time lead.

Half-Time: Seattle Seahawks 22-0 Denver Broncos

If the Broncos were going to get back into the game, and become the first team in Super Bowl history to have thrown a pick-six and gone onto win the match, they needed a quick start to the second half.

What they didn’t need to happen was for Percy Harvin to return the opening kick-off for a touchdown. At 29-0, surely this was game over.

Things went from bad to worse for the Broncos as Demaryius Thomas ran 23 yards to the Seattle 21-yard line, after receiving a Manning pass, only to see the ball shoot out of his hands as a result of Byron Maxwell’s tackle and be scooped up by Smith.

Six plays later, and Kearse added his name to the score-sheet, making 23 yards off the back of Wilson’s pass and extending his team’s lead yet further.

However, the Seahawks hopes of becoming the first team in NFL history to produce a Super Bowl shut-out were dashed on the very next drive, when Manning found Thomas for a 14-yard score – Wes Welker adding the two-point conversion.

But the Broncos brief rebuttal was quickly wiped out when Doug Baldwin danced his way through the Denver defence for Seattle’s third touchdown of the second-half, Wilson credited with the 10-yard pass.

From this point on, it was merely a case of completing the formalities. Every single person inside the MetLife Stadium and watching at home were in no doubt that the Seahawks were going to claim their first ever Vince Lombardi Trophy.

Peyton Manning finished the night with 34 pass completions, 13 of which were made by Demaryius Thomas – both Super Bowl records – but the vast majority of his 280 yards came long after Seattle had wrapped up the game. The five-time NFL MVP ended the game with a fumble to complete a miserable night, which leaves fans questioning his legacy and his reputation as a big-game ‘choker’.

Seattle’s victory ranks only behind the San Francisco 49ers’ 55-10 defeat of the Broncos at Super Bowl XXIV, and the Chicago Bears 46-10 success over the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XX, in terms of the game’s biggest ever point differential.

The Broncos have now won in just two of their seven trips to the Super Bowl, while the Seahawks only other appearance in NFL’s biggest game ended in defeat in 2005, when they lost out to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Man of the Match: Malcolm Smith – Was a slightly surprising choice as Super Bowl MVP, but like the rest of the Seattle defence Smith had an excellent night, contributing towards nine tackles and claiming an interception which he returned 69-yards for a touchdown.

Bad Night for: Peyton Manning – From the very first play, when he saw the ball fly over his right shoulder and back into his own end zone, things did not got his way. Turned the ball over three times, and was perhaps lucky not to do so more. Is this the last time we will ever see one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time?

Unsung Hero: Percy Harvin – After multiple injury issues throughout the season, he returned in spectacular fashion to make several crucial plays, including the 87-yard kick-off return at the start of the second-half that all but clinched the game for the Seahawks.

Seattle Starting Line-up:

Offence: Russell Wilson (Quarterback), Doug Baldwin (Wide Receiver), Golden Tate (Wide Receiver), Zach Miller (Tight End), Marshawn Lynch (Running Back), Alvin Bailey (Offensive Tackle), Russell Okung (Left Tackle), James Carpenter (Left Guard), Max Unger (Centre), J.R. Sweezy (Right Guard), Breno Giacomini (Right Tackle).
Defence: Michael Bennett (Left Defensive Tackle), Clinton McDonald (Right Defensive Tackle), Cliff Avril (Left Defensive End), Chris Clemons (Right Defensive End), K.J. Wright (Outside Linebacker), Bobby Wagner (Middle Linebacker), Walter Thurmond (Cornerback), Richard Sherman (Left Cornerback), Byron Maxwell (Right Cornerback), Kam Chancellor (Strong Safety), Earl Thomas (Free Safety).

Denver Starting Line-up:

Offence: Peyton Manning (Quarterback), Demaryius Thomas (Wide Receiver), Wes Welker (Wide Receiver), Eric Decker (Wide Receiver), Julius Thomas (Tight End), Knowshon Moreno (Running Back), Chris Clark (Left Tackle), Zane Beadles (Left Guard), Manny Ramirez (Centre), Louis Vasquez (Right Guard), Orlando Franklin (Right Tackle).
Defence: Sylvester Williams (Defensive Tackle), Terrence Knighton (Nose Tackle), Malik Jackson (Left Defensive End), Shaun Phillips (Right Defensive End), Nate Irving (Strongside Linebacker), Paris Lenon (Middle Linebacker), Danny Trevathan (Weakside Linebacker), Champ Bailey (Left Cornerback), Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (Right Cornerback), Duke Ihenacho (Strong Safety), Mike Adams (Free Safety).

Super Bowl XLVIII, scoring summary:

Touchdowns (6pts): M. Lynch (1yd run), M. Smith (69yd interception return), P. Harvin (87yd kick-off return), J. Kearse (23yd pass from R. Wilson), D. Baldwin (10yd pass from R. Wilson)

Conversions (1pt): S. Hauschka (5)

Field Goals (3pts): S. Hauschka (2)

Other Scores: Safety (1 – forced by C. Avril on K. Moreno)

Best Passer: R. Wilson, 18/25 passes completed for 206yds, 2 touchdowns and 0 interceptions

Best Rusher: P. Harvin, 45yds gained from 2 attempts, with 0 touchdowns and a best of 30yds

Best Receiver: D. Baldwin, 5 receptions for 66yds, with 1 touchdown and a best of 37yds

Touchdowns (6pts): D. Thomas (14yd pass from P. Manning)

Conversions (1pt): None

Field Goals (3pts): None

Other Scores: Two-Point Conversion (W. Welker, pass from P. Manning)

Best Passer: P. Manning, 34/49 passes completed for 280yds, 1 touchdown and 2 interceptions

Best Rusher: K. Moreno, 17yds gained from 5 attempts, with 0 touchdowns and a best of 9yds

Best Receiver: D. Thomas, 13 receptions for 118yds, with 1 touchdown and a best of 23yds

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