You do not see a lot of no hitters in the Superbowl. We almost did yesterday.
But Defense was only half of the story. Last year coaching cost Seattle a Trip to the Superbowl. This year it earned them the Lombardi Trophy.
Best Defensive Performance in NFL History
When a Great Offense plays a Great Defense - Offense usually prevails. The defense eventually breaks down and allows scoring. Not yesterday. The defensive game plan was brilliant. That fueled the Offense too. Remember Seattle settled for a FG in the Red Zone on their first two attempts. A good defense is like a Mulligan in Golf. It gives you another chance to score. 3 and outs created by the Seattle defense - gave the offense lots of Mulligans.
The Opening Kick Off set the tone. On the first play the Seattle kick team attacked Holiday like sharks in a feeding frenzy. He was torn to shreds at the14 yd line. This left the Denver sideline speechless. Manning saw it too. That I believe - is the real reason for the bad snap and safety.
He and his offensive line had just witnessed a brutal assault on one of the leagues best Kick Returners. They were nervous - if not scared. Crowd noise would have been a valid excuse in Seattle. But nearly 70% of the public was rooting for Denver. It wasn't crowd noise in New York - it was fear.
I spend the year criticizing coaching mistakes. Most of the time coaches somehow ignore the obvious. Seattle has done that off and on for two years. The reverse was true yesterday.
We all knew the Seattle secondary would shut down the deep pass and force Manning to pick away at them with short passes. To be honest, - Jamming Receivers at the Line to shut that down was not on my radar. It was on Defensive Coordinator Dan Quin's. It Worked. The defensive line hit their lanes and limited Manning's time in the Pocket. Actors have to hit their marks. So do receivers. You cant run a short pass offense if the receivers do not get hit their marks on time. Jamming them at the line prevented that and frustrated a great director in Peyton Manning. "Cut" "Take Two." You only get 3, then you have to punt.
Hitting and Stripping
The 2nd part of that solution required the linebackers and Corners to knock the snot out of anyone who caught a short pass - upon arrival. Easier said than done. Especially at a time when pad cracking hits are more often penalized than rewarded. When the Seahawks did allow Denver to receive packages - it was C.O.D. Only. Concussion On Delivery. Gang tackling also allowed defenders to punch the ball out - as they wrapped up the ball carrier. This Erased first downs and created turnovers.
Good coaching is one thing. Execution is another. The defense executed all of the above perfectly.
Let's Name Names
In Order of Production:
Kam Chancellor 5 Tackles / 4 Assists /1-INT
Malcolm Smith 5 Tackles / 4 Assists /1-INT
Earl Thomas 6 Tackles / 1 Assists.
Bobby Wagner 5 Tackles / 5 Assists.
K.J. Wright 5 Tackles / 2 Assists.
Richard Sherman With all the pressure on Him - He never cracked. Stats will never show his real value. They don't throw to him. But in Football - like Monopoly, that kind of real estate domination usually wins.
Smith played a great game - But my Defensive MVP would have been Kam Chancellor
He has been the backbone of the Seatlle Secondary all year.
Note: The Seattle Defense Completely shut Down Denver without a Single Sack. Brilliant!
The prop sheets had a line for "Will there be a Safety"
How About - Will there be a "Sack".
Answer - NO - not one for either team all game.
"They came to see an Offense and the Wrong One Showed Up."
The Quote above is from Randy Cross regarding SuperBowl 19 . When I was 16, I was a Forty Niner Fanatic. I saved $100 and got on a plane to Palo Alto for the Superbowl between Miami and SF. No Ticket - just jumped on a plane and went. I was tired of having cokes thrown at me for rooting for SF at the Coliseum. Anyway, All the media talked about for weeks leading up to the game was Dan Marino. It was like Montana didn't exist. SF won 38-16. As I watched from some corporate tent, I remember local fans yelling "Get him back in the water." every time a Dolphin player went down.
If you are a Seahawks / Russell Wilson Fan - this week was not much different. Manning got the MVP and Player of the year. Wilson got ignored. Richard Sherman and Marshawn Lynch got more press. Lynch got more attention for not talking. LOL.
Everyone expected to see Manning rifle a few hundred yards of pinpoint short passes.
That is exactly what Russell Wilson did. Seattle 43-8. Russell's youthful exuberance and team player mentally allowed him on to focus on the game plan, rather than he lack of media attention he was getting.
He executed that game plan perfectly. If you were to watch the game through night vision goggles and couldn't tell who was throwing those passes - you would have thought it was Peyton Manning or Tom Brady. He did not hold the ball too long, or run around the backfield. When he was pressured - he dumped it off short or took off up field. He stayed vertical, and released the ball quickly and accurately. A+
I Tore into Offensive Coordinator Darrell Bevell for costing Seattle a trip to the SuperBowl last year. He deserved it. Today he deserves nothing but praise. "You been reading my blog man? LOL. As I have preached all year - he stayed vertical. The Seattle offense was not in its own backfield long enough to leave a footprint. SF did the opposite and ran sideways - right out of the playoffs. His game plan did not allow Wilson to play Fran Tarkenton in the backfield. 3 to 5 step drop - release to position. By Position I mean Position of the defender. If he is on your receivers inside - throw to the outside shoulder - etc. Choosing routes that do not take time to develop - allows your QB to release quickly and throw to position. It worked to Perfection!
Running and The Art of War.
More importantly - he avoided the Mistake that cost the Patriots a trip to New York. Belichick abandoned the run with Blount after 5 carries. Bevell kept running the whole game, even though it was mostly ineffective and resulted in a loss several times. Why was that smart? The Art of War. Even if your infantry is not advancing. It takes a ton of troops to hold them off. That allows your Arial assault to succeed. If he had stopped running - like Belichick did vs Denver - the Denver defense would have been free to focus on Wilson and shut him down. Like Denver did to Brady. Frickin Brilliant Man!
Kearse - Insane Runs after Catch
Baldwin- Insane Runs after Catch
My final thought is devoted solely to a man who was damn near killed every time he tried to play this year. He was a one man show the last time he started and was sidelined by brutal hits immediately upon his return. I was elated when I heard he would be healthy for the Superbowl. Added 7 points to the projected score for Seattle when I learned he would play. He was worth 7. I really wanted to see his talent and devotion rewarded. It was with a SuperBowl Ring. However, I do think he deserved the SuperBowl MVP as well. Malcolm Smith played great too.
You compare the stats and decide your Vote for MVP
Percy Harvin 4 Attempts / 137 Yds / Avg 34 Yds per Carry / 1-TD
No wonder opposing teams try to knock him out of the game as soon as Possible
Russell Wilson 18/25 / 206 Yds / 2-TD / 0-INT
Malcolm Smith 5 Tackles / 4 Assists /1-INT /1-TD 63 Yds (Fumble Recovery)
I forgot about the Fumble - with that - it is understandable why he was picked
Kam Chancellor 5 Tackles / 4 Assists /1-INT
MVP Really Doesn't Matter. What does is Perfection. It is unlikely that we will ever again see a game plan executed as perfectly - on both sides of the ball - as we did in Superbowl 48.
Congratulations Pete Carol and All you Seahawks Fans!