Superbowl 48 has come and gone - the Seahawks winning 43-8 - and its story was told on the opening snap - the safety for the Seahawks was the fatal wound from which the Broncos couldn't recover. The subsequent game was the worst disaster seen since the 49ers - delicious irony being an NFC West team - hung 55 on now-GM John Elway's Broncos in Superbowl 24. And the opening snap signalled the Broncos were in over their heads.
There is quite a bit to break down in this game. What stood out and what stands out going forward -
Peyton Manning flames out under playoff pressure yet again
- Two interceptions and utter confusion in the face of Seattle's defense once again came in a playoff game. That Manning even got to the Superbowl is surprising in and of itself; the reality remains his twelve playoff losses - the definining characteristic of Peyton's career. The fact of being in a playoff game inevitably gets to Peyton; it took longer than normal this season but it happened like clockwork again, and it was even uglier than usual when it did happen.
Pete Carroll is a better NFL coach than anyone thought
- There was a minor brouhaha during the week when some media noticed the front-office structure of the Patriots when Carroll was coach, and how Carroll basically had no say in personnel. It is worth focusing on because it showed why Carroll did not succeed there - the front office structure was divided and not working together because it lacked a leader. The structure was put in place because of the failures (and refusal to commit to any kind of lengthy plan) of Bill Parcells as Patriots coach his first three years there. That it was not successful showed in that Bill Belichick got the control Carroll was denied there. His success in Seattle as his own boss shows Carroll is one of the best NFL coaches out there.
Russell Wilson outplayed Manning
- People will once again look at the volume stats and say Wilson merely managed the game, citing the disparity in yardage. The mistake is always made of falling in love with Volume Stats. The facts are Wilson led the offense efficiently; he made plays Manning was not able to make; he moved the chains; he controlled the ball much better than Peyton's offense did. In short, the moment was too big for Manning yet again and wasn't for Wilson.
There was no indictment or endorsement of a certain philosophy of roster construction or scheme
- Before the game a piece criticized the Patriots by comparing their defensive mindset and personnel approach with Carroll's and the premise of the piece is wrong - the Patriots' philosophy is successful. Pete Carroll's construction of the Seahawks defense has unquestionably been successful, but it revolves around scheme as much as Belichick's. The difference right now is the Seahawks have managed to be a harder-hitting team - that isn't an failure of talent or scheme because whatever weaknesses the Patriots have are not weaknesses of philosophy or personnel - injuries were a bigger issue than scheme or roster philosophy. Belichick and Carroll are showing their philsophy - at heart one that emphasizes Value and controlling the line of scrimmage - is not that different.
- The Broncos played the Seahawks in the preseason and Peyton Manning could not hang with the Hawks. That was the first sign Seattle was for real and the Broncos were in trouble.
The Seahawks now try to buck the trend - The 2005 Patriots were the last Superbowl champ to win an ensuing playoff game - since then Pittsburgh twice (2006 and 2009), Indianapolis (2007), the New York Giants twice (2008 and 2012), New Orleans (2010), Green Bay (2011), and Baltimore (2013) followed up the Superbowl by failing to win a playoff game - with four of them not even making the playoffs as defending champs. And the Seahawks face a hungry NFC West in 2014 as well.
The Seahawks quietly vindicated over the Packers
- The 2012 touchdown over the Packers has been something of a cloud over the Seahawks head, even though they were right; now they have a championship and are a far better team than Green Bay, which comes to Seattle in 2014; I'd love to see the Seahawks treat the Packers and their media humpers for the liars they've been since that controversial catch.
So the 2013 season has ended - with 2014 preparations already being drawn up by 30 other teams stewing for a shot at Denver and Seattle down the road.