Super Bowl 2014 Highlights: Analyzing Plays That Decided Outcome

Joseph ZuckerFeatured ColumnistFebruary 3, 2014

Seattle Seahawks' Marshawn Lynch (24) runs into the end zone for a touchdown during the first half of the NFL Super Bowl XLVIII football game against the Denver Broncos Sunday, Feb. 2, 2014, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
Chris O'Meara/Associated Press

Well, that was a football game, I guess.

Super Bowl XLVIII left a lot to be desired in terms of drama, but it more than made up for that by virtue of the Seattle Seahawks' dominance. You have to appreciate the way they dissected the Denver Broncos and silenced what had been a historic offense all season long.

Not only did the Seahawks win 43-8, but they were also on top for all but 12 seconds of the game, per's Will Brinson:

Despite what was a rather anticlimactic finish, there were still plenty of plays that will go down in Super Bowl history. This is a game that will be remembered for some time.

Among those plays most fans will associate with Super Bowl XLVIII, these three had the biggest impact on the outcome.


Marshawn Lynch's Touchdown Run

Feb 2, 2014; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch (24) celebrates his touchdown with fullback Michael Robinson (26) against the Denver Broncos during the second quarter in Super Bowl XLVIII at MetLife Stadium.  Mandatory
Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

Up until Marshawn Lynch got into the end zone, you wondered if maybe the Broncos were still in it. If they could keep the Seahawks to field goals, it would only take a touchdown and a field goal, and it's a whole different ballgame.

But then Lynch punched it in from a yard out to give Seattle a two-score lead. It was also the critical touchdown to sap even more hope away from Denver.

The pass interference on Tony Carter put the ball on the 1-yard line. That penalty merely sped up the inevitable.

Lynch never went into "Beast Mode" on Sunday. Then again, he never needed to.


Malcolm Smith's Pick-Six

Poor, poor Peyton Manning.

He could've possibly escaped this game without a ton of scrutiny had it not been for Malcolm Smith's 69-yard interception return for a touchdown in the second quarter.

It was the one moment of the Super Bowl that all of Manning's critics will latch onto when they make the case that he chokes in the biggest games. And to a certain extent, the criticism isn't unwarranted.

The decision to fling the ball under heavy pressure was not a wise one, especially for a quarterback as talented and experienced as Manning.

After the game, Smith told reporters that he thought the Seattle defense was unlike anything Denver had seen all season, per USA Today's Jim Corbett.

"Obviously, Peyton is a great quarterback who gets the ball out fast,'' Smith said. "But we play with a speed they haven't seen before.''


Percy Harvin Houses It

And playing the role of Percy Harvin on Sunday night was Desmond Howard.

Maybe, just maybe, the Broncos had a chance to turn this thing around in the second half. They'd need to get a stop on Seattle's first drive and then go down and score.

At least Harvin was nice enough not to give Denver's fans any hope, as it's the hope that kills you. His 87-yard touchdown return eliminated whatever minute chance the Broncos had of making a comeback.'s Jeffri Chadiha thought that kick return also meant a lot to Harvin personally:

That 87-yard kick return didn't just enable the Seahawks to take a 29-0 lead at that point. It also validated everything Harvin was supposed to be for Seattle this year. This is a man who was limited to 19 plays during the regular season because of preseason hip surgery, and he was unable to finish Seattle's NFC divisional playoff win over New Orleans because of a concussion. Until he devastated the Broncos on Sunday night, it seemed as if Harvin wouldn't be nearly worth the six-year, $67 million and three draft picks Seattle gave up to acquire him in a trade in March.

The wideout won't have to buy another drink in Seattle again.