The Super Bowl offers the NFL's brightest stars the chance to shine with brilliant stats while the entire world watches, but not all are able to live up to expectations.
For instance, Russell Wilson shockingly outplayed Peyton Manning, and the Seattle Seahawks rolled over the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII, winning by the blowout score of 43-8.
Manning—the most recognizable star in the game—and the Broncos finished the regular season with historic offensive numbers, as the legendary quarterback ripped through secondaries to the tune of 5,477 yards and 55 touchdowns.
However, during the Super Bowl, Seattle's secondary lived up to its "Legion of Boom" moniker, forcing him into two costly interceptions—one of which was returned for a touchdown.
Here's a look at Manning's stats in the big game, along with those of the other big stars in Super Bowl XLVIII:
|Peyton Manning||QB||34-of-49 passing, 280 yards, one TD, two INTs|
|Knowshon Moreno||RB||Five carries, 17 yards; three catches, 20 yards|
|Demaryius Thomas||WR||13 catches, 118 yards, one TD|
|Wes Welker||WR||Eight Catches, 84 yards|
|Eric Decker||WR||One catch, six yards|
|Julius Thomas||TE||Four Catches, 27 yards|
|Russell Wilson||QB||18-of-25 passing, 206 yards, two TDs; three carries, 26 yards|
|Marshawn Lynch||RB||15 carries, 39 yards, one TD|
|Percy Harvin||WR||Two carries, 45 yards; one catch, five yards; one kickoff return, 87 yards, one TD|
|Doug Baldwin||WR||Five catches, 66 yards, one TD|
|Jermaine Kearse||WR||Four catches, 65 yards, one TD|
|Malcolm Smith||LB||Nine tackles, one interception, one fumble recovery, one TD|
Biggest Surprise: Manning's Horrid Night
Manning attempted 49 passes and came away with just 280 yards, averaging 5.7 yards per attempt.
For a point of reference, Blaine Gabbert's career average is 5.61 yards per attempt.
Shockingly, Seattle's vaunted defense was able to effectively shut down Manning all night long. It wasn't until the second quarter that the Broncos managed a third-down conversion, which proved the worst start by a Manning-led team since 2005, per ESPN Stats & Info:
This was the first time a Peyton Manning team failed to get a first down in the first quarter since 2005 (Week 15 vs Chargers). #SB48— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) February 3, 2014
“To finish this way is very disappointing,” Manning said after the game, as noted by Jere Longman of The New York Times. “It’s not an easy pill to swallow.”
Watching the game, former NFL defensive back and B/R NFL expert Matt Bowen remarked about how the rest of the league would be studying the tape of this game all winter long:
The #Seahawks defense created a teaching tape tonight for the rest of the NFL to study this offseason.— Matt Bowen (@MattBowen41) February 3, 2014
The way Seattle was able to clamp down was a sight to behold for defense-loving football purists, but not many predicted this poor showing by Manning.
Biggest Impact: Percy Harvin's Instant Offense
Before the game, Percy Harvin had managed to participate in just 40 snaps for the Seahawks all year long, thanks to a hip injury and then a concussion.
That didn't stop him from making the biggest impact in the game—a fact that seemed to make Marc Sessler of NFL.com marvel:
How many players in the league can walk into a Super Bowl with 40 snaps on the year and light up the night like Percy Harvin? #Seahawks— Marc Sessler (@MarcSesslerNFL) February 3, 2014
Harvin got things started off with a bang for Seattle in its opening offensive drive, as he took a fly sweep 30 yards before stepping out of bounds. He nearly took that first touch to the house, but Denver managed to corral him at the last second.
The speedy receiver also took another carry 15 yards later in the game, and he caught one pass for five yards.
However, the biggest play of the game came when Harvin took the opening kickoff of the second half 87 yards to paydirt, scoring a touchdown to put the Seahawks up 29-0 before Denver could even touch the ball in the second half.
Biggest Non-Factor: Eric Decker
After finishing the regular season with 87 catches, 1,288 yards and 11 touchdowns, one might have expected Eric Decker to make an impact in Super Bowl XLVIII.
He did, but it wasn't the kind he hoped to achieve.
Decker achieved invisibility in Denver's humiliating loss, catching just one pass for six yards on five targets.
His poor performance in the biggest game of his career will surely impact his pocketbook. Decker is going to be a free agent, and he could have earned some big cash with a money performance. Instead, the last thing a potential new team will remember is his failure to launch at MetLife Stadium.
That said, many, including B/R's Collin McCollough, are of the opinion the receiver will still cash in on free agency:
Whoever overpays Eric Decker in free agency: have fun with that.— Collin McCollough (@cmccollo) February 3, 2014
Heck, if Mike Wallace can cash in, then it's highly likely Decker will, too.
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