ReFo: Seahawks @ Broncos, SB XLVIII

Ben Stockwell breaks down how the Seahawks dominated in their Super Bowl victory over the highly touted Broncos from start to finish.

| 2 years ago

ReFo: Seahawks @ Broncos, SB XLVIII

2013-REFO-SBXLVIIIThe top overall offense against the top overall defense, the most anticipated Super Bowl matchup ever turned into the biggest anticlimax in Super Bowl history.

The game could barely have got off to a worse start for the Broncos with Manuel Ramirez firing his shotgun snap over the head of Peyton Manning as he walked to the line of scrimmage to make a pre-snap adjustment and it only got worse from there. Their record setting offense was held in check by a fierce Seattle defense that worked together as a unit with everyone from defensive tackles to safeties ensuring that the Broncos could generate nothing after the catch.

The stifling shutdown play of the defense was paired with big plays, scoring plays, from every single unit on the team. Though the Denver defense had its success against the Seattle running game their tackling let them down especially in the passing game and ensured that the Seahawks were always able to keep edging and driving away from them on the scoreboard. This was as thorough a demolition as we have seen of any team in the league this season, the only disappointment for the Seahawks? No shutout.

Here are just a few of the performances that went into making this one of the most comfortable Super Bowl victories in history and a first Lombardi Trophy for the Seattle Seahawks.

Seattle – Three Performances of Note

Leading the Legion of Boom

The Seahawks’ form defender coming into the Super Bowl was Kam Chancellor and he rounded out a spectacular postseason with a performance that was worthy of winning the Super Bowl MVP award. Leading the defense along with K.J. Wright with three defensive stops, Chancellor led the team effort in cutting off the Denver receivers after the catch preventing them from finding space off of short catches. With a +4.0 grade last night Chancellor finishes the playoffs with a +12.6 overall grade dominating the short area from start to finish. Also notching a tackle on special teams (his sixth of the season) Chancellor collected the first of two interceptions from Peyton Manning, profiting from pressure up front which led to an overthrown pass directly to him over Julius Thomas. He needed no such charity the rest of the game, however, making his presence felt after the catch and with one pass defense against Wes Welker early in the third quarter arriving with perfect timing and physicality to force the incompletion. Chancellor rounds out a spectacular season as our second-highest graded (+18.7) safety finishing third in stops with 40.

Receivers Make Their Mark

In the run up to this game we profiled both the Seattle and Denver receiving corps and it was the less prolific, less-heralded Seahawks receivers who walked away from this game having made the telling plays. While Denver’s receivers struggled to get open and create after the catch against a physical defense the Seattle receivers set the tone in the opposite matchup all game long. Percy Harvin got the group off to a fast start with a 30 yard gain on a jet sweep on the Seahawks’ second snap of the game, the first of two strong gains off the same play. After solid gains in the first half it was Harvin who kick started a second half of memorable plays from Seattle’s receivers by taking a pooch kick off the bounce. Harvin then evaded tacklers before running away from Denver’s coverage unit for a score that all but ended the game as a contest. From there, Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse made excellent plays after the catch evading numerous tacklers to snag a score each to put the icing on the Seahawks’ Super Bowl cake.

Timely Pressure Leaves Its Mark

Of the 51 times Peyton Manning dropped back to pass the Seahawks pressured him on one third of those plays, but they made that pressure count time with big plays up front. Of their 20 total pressures they notched four hits and one sack by Chris Clemons with other pressures disrupting Manning even if they didn’t get him on the ground. Off the left edge, Cliff Avril (+3.2) continued his fine playoff form with seven pressures (2 hits, 5 hurries), showing some terrific timing in his most productive game as a Seahawk. On the right side Chris Clemons had been fairly quiet as a pass rusher since Week 8 only recording one hit (Week 10) and one sack (Week 14). Clemens earned his second most productive game of the season here including a strip sack late in the fourth quarter to help ensure the Seahawks never took their foot off the gas. Both Avril and Clemons added batted passes to their productive and well rounded performances.

Denver – Three Performances of Note

Early Control for Knighton Counts for Naught

One of the key matchups highlighted for the Denver run defense against Seattle’s ground game was Terrance Knighton going one-on-one with Max Unger in the middle of the line. Knighton got the upper hand in the battle during the first half, but in the wider context of the game it proved irrelevant unfortunately for Broncos fans. Aside from one cutback run in the third quarter the Broncos offered Lynch no space to run, missing just one tackle and surrendering less than a yard per carry after first contact. At the center of it all Knighton got the better of Unger who couldn’t reverse his poor playoff form with Knighton disrupting runs off right and left shoulder, making a tackle for loss and drawing a hold from the Seahawks’ center. Knighton, however, offered no presence as a pass rusher along with the rest of the Denver defense, this time around held without a pressure for the first time since Week 14 and only the third time this season.

Welker Finds a Favorable Matchup

The Broncos struggled desperately to find a productive matchup in the passing game and to find space to allow their receivers to pick up the chunks of yards after the catch that we are used to seeing. Wes Welker found that favorable matchup against Walter Thurmond collecting 64 of his 86 yards on four catches against the Seahawks’ slot corner. His other seven targets in the game (against Kam Chancellor, K.J. Wright, Bobby Wagner and Clinton McDonald) yielded just 22 yards and only 5 yards after the catch. Against Thurmond he averaged 7 yards after the catch per reception and Thurmond was let up 26 yards on two targets to Demaryius Thomas. This was, however, the only favorable matchup the Broncos found and it came too late to make a telling difference in the outcome of the game.

Absent the Pass Rush

When previewing the matchup of the Seattle offense and the Denver defense I had highlighted Robert Ayers as a key player if we weren’t going to be talking about Von Miller’s absence as being crucial come Monday morning. Well, it’s Monday morning and while Miller’s presence on its own would not have turned last night’s game, the Broncos were glaringly devoid of defensive playmakers in his absence. Ayers notched just one hurry in a defensive effort that yielded just six pressures (all of which were hurries) against a far from water tight Seattle offensive line. The Broncos didn’t effectively defeat blocks when Wilson stayed in the pocket and couldn’t make timely plays in pursuit when he rolled or scrambled out of the pocket. Only Shaun Phillips notched multiple pressures (two hurries, one in pursuit late in garbage time), though he finished the season with nine straight games with a negative pass rush grade.

Game Notes

– Prior to the Super Bowl, Denver’s receivers averaged 6.2 yards after the catch per reception on short passes. Last night the Seahawks held them to just 3.7 and gave up 0 yards after the catch nine times.

– Working as an extra tackle Alvin Bailey played 16 snaps (14 run plays, 2 pass plays) taking his postseason total to 33 plays (28 run, 5 pass).

– Leaving the game early due to injury, Richard Sherman finished the postseason with seven targets (plus one defensive holding penalty) surrendering two completions for 10 yards with two pass defenses.

PFF Game Ball

In a game where the term Most Valuable Player (at least in relation to the NFL’s interpretation) doesn’t accurately describe any individual performance I’m just awarding a PFF game ball here. Facing off against the league’s best offense the destruction was led from the front and from the very start by Kam Chancellor. By continuing his spectacular playoff form Chancellor was the best player on the field in a game where he had plenty of competition for that accolade from his teammates.


Follow Ben on Twitter @PFF_Ben

  • jdouble777

    Your ratings had SEA’s offense at 22.7 rating. DEN’s defense was rated at 85.8. Is this game going to be called outlier or were some ratings that were factored in that may be to unreliable to utilize for the PFF rating? DEN’s 85.8 to SEA’s 186.2 was not nearly as formidable a factor as DEN’s offense’s rating of 215.9 to SEA’s 22.7. Overall, with both being accounted for, SEA’s 208.9 was almost 1/3 less than DEN’s 301.7. All in all, using these ratings, on a neutral field, this game should have been MUCH closer if not greatly in favor of DEN. Perhaps you could offer a way to sort/filter by “last four weeks” or “against Top 10 defense.” My faith in these ratings took a large hit last night, perhaps there may be some way of improvement?

    • PFF_Pete

      Though we have those collective team grades there as a general guide, they are not meant to be taken as gospel because our grades do not normalize across positions (for example, only 4 CBs had a grade higher than +15.0 this season, compared to 16 WRs). Also, one high player grade can offset a lot of negative grades from teammates (JJ Watt in Houston being a perfect example). If you want to use our grades to judge team strength, I’d suggest looking at the individual player grades, see where they stack up to their peers at their position, and making that judgement for yourself.

      As a side note, I think most analysts looked at Denver as a slight favorite in this game. If there was a prediction, whether from a person or system, that foresaw this blowout, I haven’t seen it.

      • jdouble777

        An analyst on the Fantasy Sports channel of Sirius/XM pegged it precisely, stating that the historical precedent of #1 defenses pounding #1 offenses was so prevalent that he was wagering more than he had on any game in his life. He seriously suggested looking at various props, one of which was giving 17 points saying that sometimes these Super Bowls just get out of hand and become blowouts, I kid you not.

        I just feel maybe finding a way to make the rating more standardized so they can be be more generalized. For example, the ratings given to special teams for a kicker’s kick-off ability is seemingly silly high.

        Maybe defense is a more important category and thus their ratings should be higher? Peyton has a 43, 55 TD 10 INTs will do that, but perhaps being an elite run stopper should also be that high, not sure if that player exists but… Bennett, Mebane, and Knighton were all over 30 so maybe that is already there… just suggestions

        • PFF_Pete

          Yep, I understand. There has been feedback to normalize across positions, but easier said than done.

        • osoviejo

          I was confident enough after getting past the Niners (by far the best game of the playoffs) that I also took the Seahawks and laid 17.5 (would have loved 17–who offered that?) at +1000.

          On the downside, pretty much everyone I know is getting free drinks the next time I see them.

      • Ben Moore

        A couple of years ago, out of curiosity, I tested PFF’s team grades against future performances. IIRC, passing, run blocking, run defense and pass coverage were predictive. The rest were nonfactor (very low signal vs. noise ratio). Thought you might find this interesting,

    • Ben Moore

      Regardless of the system used, one game should NEVER affect your evaluation of it. NEVER NEVER NEVER.

      • SpellStitchedHawk

        Yes, but this wasn’t an outlier game. Play this game 10 times and Seattle will win 9 of them. There is something missing in how the comparisons are calculated.

  • JaMarcus Russell

    Even though the media wants everyone to think that the quarterback is the only player on the team, the reality is that Denver would have lost regardless of who was playing that position. If you ignore Manning and Wilson and look at all the other areas of the teams, Denver was thoroughly too overmatched. More often then not, Manning actually played it right and made the right checkdown or found the open guy when nobody was open. Sure, he didn’t play his best game, but he’s far from the sole reason they lost. Denver had no chance no matter how well he would have played. If this game proved anything, it’s that a team too dependent on quarterback play cannot take it all the way because somebody is going to find a way to neutralize your quarterback. Therefore, it is up to the rest of the team to step up. Denver was too overmatched to do so. This game was actually decided by pretty much everything except quarterback play.

    • jdouble777

      Sadly, there is no rating for the coach and this is John Fox’s second sad Super Bowl performance. Denver was just not prepared, energized, or focused. Should they have been, I doubt her comment holds water, or at least as much. Brees, Rodgers, Brady, Manning, etc. all have rings and then there are the few examples of defenses being good enough to win a ring inspite of their QB, from Grossman to Wilson. All in all, the majority of the time, elite QBs win in February.

      • JaMarcus Russell

        Actually, that is just a huge myth perpetuated by the media. It’s not about the best QB. It’s about the team that is best built to find alternate ways to win in the event that the QB doesn’t have his best game. Seattle has constantly proven that they can find other ways to win even when Russell Wilson doesn’t play particularly well. On the other hand, if Manning doesn’t play well, the rest of the team is not strong enough to find another way to win. Denver would never be able to rely on running the ball and defense (and don’t even try to bring up Tebow). Elite QB’s can get you to the playoffs, but the best teams will find a way to counteract him. Super Bowl XLI (coincidentally had Manning in it) was the last one in which the winning team had the clearly superior QB. Eli wasn’t better than Brady in 2007, Warner was better than Big Ben in 2008, 2009 is a wash between Brees and Manning (no clear edge), 2010 is a wash between Rodgers (at that time, not since then) and Big Ben, 2011 Brady was better than Eli (not by as much, but still), 2012 Kaep better than Flacco, and now with Manning better than Wilson. And I’m not referring to being better for one game, I’m talking about for the entire season leading up to the Super Bowl.

      • JaMarcus Russell

        Even when going with the flawed argument of Super Bowl/elite QB’s, people tend to not have a sense for causation. They’ll say an elite QB is needed to win a Super Bowl, but then say that winning a Super Bowl makes a QB elite. Which one is it? The Ravens twice proved that you can win a Super Bowl without an elite QB, but people still say that the win makes Flacco elite. Did they win because he’s elite? Or is he elite because they won? (irrelevant question because he’s not elite regardless)

        • jdouble777

          I agree, the people that use some non-sense miracles to justify Eli or Joe to be elite are nonsensical. That said, the majority of the last 15 Super Bowls have been won by Roethlisberger, Rodgers, Brees, Peyton, Brady, etc.

          • JaMarcus Russell

            Yea but I’d counter that by pointing out that Brady and Roethlisberger were not elite when their teams were winning Super Bowls even though they are now. Through game film and basically any kind of analysis, Brady has been a better QB the past 9 seasons than he was during that 4 year run, but the Patriots haven’t won since 2004. That has a lot to do with them leaning more and more on Brady than they did back then. As a result, it’s the same story with Manning in that the rest of the team isn’t strong enough to step up when Brady is neutralized. From 2001-2004 they were, but not since then. That’s why they haven’t won a Super Bowl since then. At the end of the day it’s 100 percent a team effort, and measuring QB’s by Super Bowls is one of the biggest fallacies in sports today

          • eYeDEF

            You seem to be having a bit of trouble recognizing causation yourself. A QB is neutralized by taking out the weapons he uses that makes him so effective. Whether that be intimidating his receiving options into not going hard after balls when targeted, applying consistent pressure on him by overcoming his offensive lineman in the trenches, or taking out the running game that might give him room to breathe … it’s all related on offense. Sure it’s always possible for a QB just to have a bad day and miss open receivers, but I think it’s far more likely based on the empirical evidence that Manning’s poor play was a consequence of the members of his offense being overwhelmed by their assignments on a consistent and regular basis that made it close to impossible for him to do his job.

            If you want to argue that these QBs didn’t have a good enough defense and ST to carry the day when their offense got neutralized, that might be more appropriate. But you didn’t appear to make that distinction.

          • JaMarcus Russell

            I’m going to agree with you on intimidating the receivers and applying pressure, but the running game is not entirely related to the passing game. In some situations it is (such as a defense that is always in nickel and dime formations against a 2 TE set like the Patriots used to do with Gronk and Hernandez), but often times, an offensive line can just win its battles with the defensive players lined up across from them. In those situations, teams that don’t necessarily intimidate opponents with their passing can still generate enough offense through the running game. These teams include the Jets from 2009-2010, 49ers the last few years, Carolina, and even Seattle to an extent. However, teams like Denver and Atlanta have to rely on favorable fronts to create opportunities running the ball. It’s quite a big difference. Not every team uses the running game the same way, and not every team has the personnel to win matchups in the running game against base defenses, so they have to use the pass to set up favorable defenses to run against.

          • Ben Moore

            And all of their Ds were also good.

        • eYeDEF

          Sounds like you’re an erecting a straw man because the only people claiming Flacco as elite are either Ravens diehards with their black rose tinted shades on, or cursory fans too ignorant to know any better. I’ve never read it coming from anyone in the football intelligentsia.. Any thinking fan recognizes it takes more than a super bowl win to be recognized as an elite qb. You don’t hear anyone referring to Dilfer or Brad Johnson as elite QBs because they quarterbacked a SB winning team. Obviously to be considered elite involves more than just owning a ring. Having a ring though, is still a necessary and essential component.

          • JaMarcus Russell

            I know it looks like I was just picking on Flacco, but I was only using him as an example. He’s not the only one, but I chose him because the Ravens’ Super Bowl win is still fresh in people’s minds and there’s almost no additional evidence to suggest he is elite.

          • Ben Moore

            “Having a ring though, is still a necessary and essential component.”

            Being lucky enough to be on a team that has good coaches, receivers, offensive line, and defense, you mean?

          • eYeDEF

            To be considered among the greatest of all time? Yes absolutely. Luck factors into everyone’s circumstances, but the elite have a way of creating their own luck, and QB is the most instrumental position in the sport. Elite QBs elevate the play of their entire offense. When they win, they make their coaches look like geniuses. Did you have a point somewhere in your question?

    • eYeDEF

      Sure, he didn’t play his best game, but he’s far from the sole reason they lost. Denver had no chance no matter how well he would have played.

      Actually the reason he didn’t have his best game is because of all the things his opponent did to take away the tools he would need to succeed and have a good game. That’s the point of having a superior defense that simply overwhelms an offense. How do you know he didn’t play his best? I think he did play his best. But when his center launches the ball over his head on a snap, how could he play his best? (credit the 12th man for bringing it to a neutral site. They deserve the credit for that safety) When his pocket is collapsing so fast from constant pressure that he doesn’t have time to square up a streaking Thomas, open on a deep route having his two defenders beat, before launching an inaccurate pass how could he have played better without sufficient time to throw the ball? Holding onto the ball would only have resulted in a sack.

      The reason he didn’t have his best game is because the offense was so thoroughly outplayed. He could NOT have had anywhere close to his best game given the circumstances.

    • antirepug3

      On Sunday Feb. 02, 2014 There was only one game to play and he (Manning) played the best game he could have played on that date and time. The Denver Broncos organization was outplayed/out-executed by the Seattle Seahawks organization…Period. I hear/read some chippy comments along the lines of the “Seahawks won only because Peyton Manning had a bad day.”

      The best team at any given time always wins any given game.

      • Ben Moore

        I agree with you, but not this: “The best team at any given time always wins any given game.” Luck doesn’t always favor the team that plays the best.

        • antirepug3

          The poker player’s question…would you rather be good or be lucky?

          The Hawks lost to three teams this season…did those teams get lucky or were they the best team at the end of the day in those games? There can surely be lucky breaks in a game but the team that depends on luck rather than the best play is ultimately going to get beat in the end.

          • Scott@Seattle

            I’d rather be lucky. Hands down. Being good just costs you money if you’re running bad.

  • Less Welker

    Did Wes Welker drop a pass? Matters for prop bet reasons. Looks like his “drop” was defended by Chancellor and not a receiver’s mistake. At least one book is paying out a drop but how did they determine that? NFL doesn’t track that stack. What did PFF say regarding the play?

    • BoDogged

      Great question. Appears Sportsbooks are arbitrary in making this ruling? Thought a drop, was only in the case the receiver should have made the catch, not heavily defended. Is there no place for this stat?

      • Topher Doll

        Drops depend who you ask, PFF has differing drop numbers than other sites.

        • BoDogged

          is this the only stat open to speculation, or are there others with differing metrics out there? Also if it is open for interpretation how can you bet it? And are the sites split on drop v. catch?

          • eYeDEF

            It’s not ‘open to speculation’ so much as its definition is subject to different interpretation since NFL doesn’t have a definition they use to keep track of an official stat. You bet it by making sure you understand the definition being used by the sports book or bookie you’re using. I would hope anyone laying down money on a bet would have enough sense to do due diligence by making sure the house is on the same page as you are as to what would need to happen for you to lose that dough. Any sports betting site that’s not a scam would give you the fine print on the same page as the bet.

          • Topher Doll

            Good points, I also think if you are using things that are subjective (drops is the big one) it’s best to get multiple sources and average them. For my data collection I use 3 sites that give drop numbers and then track it myself so I have 4 different sources that way it’s less impacted by the subjective nature of it.

    • nogoodnamesleft90210

      I don’t have the replay in front of me, but according to the play-by-play, there were only 2 incompletions targeted for Welker — one was the pass breakup by Chancellor, and the other was their first offensive play of the 3rd quarter:
      “1st and 10 at DEN 23(Shotgun) P.Manning pass incomplete short right to W.Welker.”
      I suspect that may have been the “drop” in question, although I don’t have the game replay in front of me.

  • Mylegacy

    Two KEY situations:

    We had a QB with a “noodle” arm (an accurate noodle arm), a fused neck and a wonky ankle – in other words “a statue” – against a defensive front seven labeled “The Magnificent Seven.” Imagine being a defense and KNOWING your opposition QB CAN NOT run, can barely move – you simply put your ears back and bull rush, and move rush as if there is no tomorrow. The result – predictable and obvious. I have no idea how anyone expected anything differently than what unfolded.

    Manning was exceptional under the circumstances.

    Secondly, all season Seattle has played (with minor variations) the same defensive system. All season they have rarely given up the long ball and absolutely slaughtered receivers who “dared” to catch “underneath” routes. SO – given a QB who would never have time to throw long (and could do nothing to mitigate that fact) – given that Denver is basically a running team (they substitute 2 yard passes for runs) and given that Seattle absolutely destroys (literally and figuratively) the “short” game – I have no idea how anyone expected anything differently than that what unfolded.

    Am I repeating myself…

    • nogoodnamesleft90210

      Yeah, I don’t think it was so much a case of “a great defense will always trump a great offense” (which some are already trying to simplify it into), as much as Seattle’s defense just perfectly matching up with Denver’s offense. Seattle’s defense was built on great coverage and speed and tackling. Denver’s quick passing game relying on YAC was doomed for failure against it.

      To beat Seattle’s defense, you either need to be able to run for yardage consistently on 1st down (such as was done by Houston, Tampa Bay, and the first game against STL) or the QB needs to be able to buy time in the pocket to allow the receivers to get open, and then make some strong armed throws downfield (see: Andrew Luck in the Indy game, Carson Palmer in the 2nd ARI game, or Kaepernick in the NFC Championship game). Denver was not committed enough to the run to even attempt #1 (though I don’t think they could anyway), and Manning despite his historic season just doesn’t have the mobility or arm strength to pull off #2 (and his o-line didn’t give him any help anyway).

      • Jonas Salk

        It’s all about the match-up and has little to do with where these teams offensive/defensive units finished during the regualr season. I wanted Denver to win this game because Manning is one of my favorite players, but I saw this coming a mile away. The match-up favored Seattle big-time.

      • Michael Terry

        Great and correct analysis except Carson Palmer is a bad example: He was picked off a million times against Seattle and only made one play by buying time in the pocket, a third down conversion on the last drive that was probably more luck than anything else. Mike Glennon is a better example.

        • Scott@Seattle

          Glennon did nothing in the second half once the Seahawks realized they had to actually play. Clearly he’s not terrible and they undestimated him. But once they took him seriously he was no threat.

  • It about that action, bawse

    I think one guy predicted Seahawks win in PFF analyst. You guys say you watch the games and grade players you should have predicted this game much differently. If you watch the NFC west you know that AFC is complete joke. You saw what happens to a statue quarterback against the hawks aka Brees, Rodgers, Brady, Eli, Palmer… You really think i’m going to spend money on this site? PFF is joke!

    • Ben Moore

      Because of one game?

      Don’t forget the bettors had the Broncos at -2.5. Furthermore, even the sharpest of sharps win only about 60% of their sports bets – that shows how hard it is to predict one given game.

      • It about that action, bawse

        The Seahawk’s play a style that is difficult to contend with. If you don’t run the ball with absolute power and your line doesn’t play with physicality, than you can only hope for what the Broncos received. It is all about attrition and field position. The games in the NFC west are literally modern day gladiatorial events. I’m honestly scared for the AFC west that plays us this year. There are going to be injuries and blowouts of epic proportions. Towards the end of the SB game, seahawks were dishing out blows to each other just trying to finish off the play. Special teams gunners come down and try to decapitate kickoff returners. Goodell has real problem on his hands.

  • Jared

    What was Mannings final grade?

    • Randy


      • Ben Moore

        Everyone else got the blame, I guess.

  • James Barr

    To all the Denver fans that scoffed at me when I told them over the past two weeks that they haven’t seen a defense like the Seahawks one…How do you feel now?

    • Ben Moore

      The KC Chiefs’ D was pretty good though.

      • Scott@Seattle

        Pretty good? It would be at most 4th best in the NFC west, maybe 5th.

  • Rick S.

    Just heard Demarious Thomas played most of game with a separated shoulder… Considering he’s the only offensive Bronco that came to play, I have a new respect for DT.

    • Scott@Seattle

      No doubt, he’s one of 3 or 4 Broncos who could have made Seattle’s 53 man roster.

  • Rick S.

    I’m a Bronco fan that went to the game….

    1. In pre-game, it was obvious that Denver was a lot tighter. Carroll et al was relaxed and the broncos coaches looked like they were still intensely game planning.
    2. Peyton threw at least 100 passes between two warm up sessions and Wilson not even half of that…
    3. It was obvious that Seattle knew Peyton’s audibles. You could see the DBs and LBs pointing to exactly where the play was going, esp on running plays.
    4. Ramirez said the “unexpected crowd noise” caused the snap-fumble, but anyone that was in NYC saw that Seattle fans greatly outnumbered Denver fans, and the average age of the Seattle fans there was probably 6-8 years younger (rowdier) than Denver’s. How Fox/Gase were not prepared for the noise was Inexcusable.

    Denver’s Problems:
    1. Denver showed that their running success during the season was a mirage because nearly all of it was against soft defensive fronts. Denver needs to be able to develop a power running game.
    2. Gase et al were completely outcoached. Gase / Manning seemed unprepared and The short pass strategy was getting his guys killed and not working.
    3. I thought the defense kept them in the game through the first quarter. I had Seahawk fans near me saying “we should be up by more that 8 to zero.” The defense obviously buckled, but the offense and special teams lost the game more than the defense, especially when you consider they were playing with 5 starters on injured reserve and a hobbled Champ Bailey.

    • Scott@Seattle

      This whole Seattle knew what was coming is way overblown. Its called studying game tape. Richard Sherman got a 3.9 at Stanford, he can study. There was nothing nefarious going on.

  • Rick S.

    Seattle and SF have a huge advantage in that the salary cap percentage that goes toward the starting QB takes less than 1% of their teams’ salary cap, compared to Denver and New England whose QB takes up approx 16% of cap. This has enabled Seattle and SF to develop better defensive depth which not only improves defense, but the depth carries over to great special teams play.

    Consider this team building financial comparison:

    Peyton Manning OR Russell Wilson, Michael Bennett, Cliff Avril with money left over…

    Until every team has a $20M QB, there will be a trend where the SB winner will be led by a team with a QB on his rookie contract. All of the teams with $20M QBs not named Brees, Peyton, Brady or Rodgers are doomed to failure and even the elite QBs teams are likely going to be overmatched to where they’ll need to play near perfect to win a SB.

  • BearsFan90

    One great point was raised about not comparing Manning with Wilson, but Manning with Wilson + Sherman + Chancelor + Avril etc. Apples to apples based on salary cap hit. The “elite” teams are getting there without paying some key positions – because those key positions are rookies.

    One point I haven’t seen raised is the cause of all this – the new CBA and the restructuring of rookie salaries. Compare Luck’s contract with Leinart’s. Indy got a franchise QB for $22M over 4 years ($5.5M hit/ year). Jury is out on Cam Newton, but he was a similar cost, with $22M for his first 4 years. Go back one year to Sam Bradford, the last #1 pick under the old CBA, and he signed $78M for 6 years – more than double Newton or Luck.

    The colts have made the playoffs 2 years running, the panthers made it this year, as did SF and seattle.

    Add to that the fact that SF last year, and Seattle this year both made the superbowl with sub first round picks at QB (and so much smaller cap numbers), and a legitimate question can be raised – is the most likely path to the superbowl going to be a QB still on his rookie contract, or one who hasn’t proven himself yet, and so isn’t getting the big #’s? See flacco last year at an $8M cap hit, rodgers 2010 at $7M, even Brees 2009 at $10M?

    There are examples the other way of course, with Eli at $14M in his 2nd SB win, and others.

    But there is an an interesting stat analysis to be done (that likely any of the “moneyball” GM’s are doing) on positional cap spend correlated with record and playoff progression.

    • BearsFan90

      Meant to say compare Luck with Bradford, not Leinart – Bradford v Luck is more apples to apples based on $ and draft position.

  • It about that action, bawse

    Cant believe PFF thought the broncos were going to win. 7-1 picked the broncos. I knew this game had Seahawks blow written all over it. We had faced the fierce pass-rush all year and RW was an magician. We found ways to win in every phase throughout the year never relying on one person to get the job done. The scary part is the seahawks are poised for a repeat, especially since we face the AFC west this year! Judging on every report i from the team, they care more about legacy rather than getting paid. Seahawks, have a list of doubters and they want to make everybody look stupid. 1million fans in downtown for the parade! Dynasty in the making.

  • Scott@Seattle

    You have two teams, one with a better QB and the other with a better everything else. The media (and general public) will consistently pick team 1 and be consistently wrong.

    • anon76returns

      Denver had a better O-Line (though they didn’t play like it on Sunday), better wide outs, better tight ends, and roughly equivalent running backs (Moreno & Ball combined for more yards, more TDs, and a better yards/carry than Lynch & Turbin, but I wouldn’t say they’re better). Bailey & DRC generally grade in roughly the same league as Sherman & Maxwell, though not having safeties in remotely the same class as Chancellor & Thomas hurts the Broncos’ secondary. The Broncos D Line was as effective against the run as Seattle’s, and put roughly the same rate of total QB pressures on opponents as Seattle’s (Seattle had 329 pressures on 647 QB drop backs, while Denver had 368 pressures on 736 drop backs), though Seattle was considerably better at getting sacks & QB hits compared with Denver, who mostly caused QB hurries. Irving and especially Trevathan are good outside LBs, though Denver’s middle backer position is currently unsettled.
      Denver has good kicking and return games, but terrible kickoff coverage, while Seattle seems to be great across the board on special teams.

      I’d say that the personnel-wise the Broncos match up well with Seattle, even if Denver’s QB takes up a larger piece of the cap than any Seattle player. What helped Seattle win was scheme & coaching (and no mistakes like snapping the ball over the QB’s head or leaving an interstate-sized hole open up the middle on kick off coverage).

      • Scott@Seattle

        Denver does not have similiar personel and does not match up well with Seattle. Thats why when the two teams played the first was 40-10 and the second was 43-8.

        Denver is a good team, Seattle is a great team.

        • anon76returns

          First off, Denver and Seattle only played once. Anybody who thinks that a preseason game (with Martin Parker tackling Lance Ball or Brady Quinn throwing to Chris Harper) has anything to do with the relative strengths of teams needs to get their head examined.

          Second of all, by your extremely flawed reasoning, the score of the Super Bowl would not mean that Denver is a good team. It would mean that Denver is a worse team than Jacksonville, Tennessee, Tampa Bay, Atlanta, Minnesota, the Giants, or the Texans, all of who put up more competitive scores against the Seahawks this year than the Broncos did, in spite of the fact that they had a collective 33-78-1 record.

          By any objective measure- Statistics, game grades, pro-bowl votes, All-pro votes, rookie of the year, etc awards- Denver has as many, if not more quality players than the Seahawks.

          The bottom line is that very few of the Bronco players played well in the SB, while many of the Seahawks did. Seattle also employed schemes and techniques that took advantage of various weaknesses that the Broncos had showed all year, while the Broncos used what seemed like their most vanilla offensive package of the year. The Broncos were out hustled, outplayed, and out coached, but that doesn’t mean that their personnel aren’t as good, or that they couldn’t beat the Seahawks if they brought their ‘A’ game.

          • Scott@Seattle

            So let me get your argument straight. So what you’re saying is that personnel is equal or better for Denver, and that Pete Carroll is just that good of a coach?

          • anon76returns

            Seattle lost to Indy and Arizona, and probably should have lost to Tampa Bay, St. Louis and Houston this season. I don’t think they’re 35 points better than Denver. The Broncos didn’t show up to play the Super Bowl- I don’t know how much of that is on the coaches, and how much is on the players, but given the level of execution in that game, I’d say there’s plenty of blame for both.
            I definitely think that Denver has more talented players on offense and Seattle has more talented players on defense. I think Denver has a better kicking game, and Seattle has far better coverage units. I don’t know which team is better, but I definitely know that snapping the ball over the QB’s head on the first play from scrimmage, and leaving an interstate-wide return lane on the first play of the second half were both unforced mental mistakes that showed me that the Broncos were not ready to play SB level when they should have been. No doubt that the better prepared team won, but count me as one Bronco fan who’d love to see Denver play better at the C-Link in the rematch this season.