Super Bowl 2014 Score: Under-the-Radar Contributions That Shaped Seattle Victory

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistFebruary 3, 2014

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (3) dumps Gatorade on head coach Pete Carroll late in the game against the Denver Broncos during the second half of the NFL Super Bowl XLVIII football game Sunday, Feb. 2, 2014, in East Rutherford, N.J. Seattle won 43-8. (AP Photo/Matt York)
Matt York/Associated Press

Super Bowl XLVIII was supposed to provide football fans with an all-time classic to help get us through the long and arduous offseason.

After all, it was a showdown between the record-setting top offense in the league in the Denver Broncos and the stifling, shut-down defense of the Seattle Seahawks. It was Peyton Manning versus Richard Sherman, Russell Wilson versus Champ Bailey and even Marshawn Lynch versus a Broncos run defense that was performing admirably in the playoffs.

So much for that.

As can be seen in the quarter-by-quarter box score, the Seahawks dominated the game from the get-go and won 43-8. They jumped ahead, ruining score boxes at parties across the country in the process with a safety within the first 12 seconds of the game, and never looked back.

Super Bowl XLVIII Quarter-by-Quarter
Team1st Quarter2nd Quarter3rd Quarter4th Quarter
Broncos0080
Seahawks814147
ESPN.com

Interestingly enough, as national sports writer Bryan Fischer points out, Seattle only needed the first couple of plays in each half to beat the Broncos, thanks to the safety and Percy Harvin kick return:

The tone-setting safety, the Harvin touchdown, the multiple interceptions from the defense, the pressure on Manning and Russell Wilson’s impressive day throwing the football, all jump out when breaking down the box score as primary reasons for Seattle’s dominance. 

What about the unheralded contributions that shaped the Seahawks’ victory? Let’s dig into a discussion about a few of them.

 

Malcolm Smith Beyond the Interception

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - FEBRUARY 02:  Linebacker Malcolm Smith #53 of the Seattle Seahawks celebrates with the Vince Lombardi Trophy after in the locker room after the 43-8 victory over the Denver Broncos during Super Bowl XLVIII at MetLife Stadium on Febru
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Calling the Super Bowl MVP’s contributions under-the-radar seems a bit strange at first glance, but the main reason why linebacker Malcolm Smith was given the honors was his early interception return for a touchdown.

If the safety and initial offensive struggles had the Broncos second guessing themselves, the interception return for a touchdown sent them reeling and may have put the game away despite how much time was remaining.

Smith’s other contributions were overshadowed by the touchdown, but they deserve recognition on their own. He (along with Kam Chancellor) led the Seahawks with 10 tackles, and he also deflected a pass from Manning. 

Yet it was his presence alone on the field that truly helped stifle the Broncos offense, per ESPN Stats & Info:

Smith’s Super Bowl will be remembered for the interception returned for a touchdown, but he was excellent throughout the entire contest.

 

Byron Maxwell

The “Legion of Boom” certainly had its way with the Denver passing game throughout the contest.

Feb 2, 2014; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Seattle Seahawks cornerback Byron Maxwell (41) forces the fumble of Denver Broncos wide receiver Demaryius Thomas (88) during the third quarter in Super Bowl XLVIII at MetLife Stadium.  Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murr
Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

Richard Sherman was challenged deep and broke up the pass despite plenty of contact from the receiver. Earl Thomas looked like he was playing with the hit stick from Madden video games the way he was laying Denver’s skill players out. Chancellor tallied 10 tackles, two pass breakups and an interception.

Byron Maxwell was also critically important in stopping the Denver attack, despite the fact that he didn't stand out as much on the box score.

Remember, Sherman can only guard one guy out of the Demaryius Thomas, Julius Thomas, Wes Welker and Eric Decker group per play. That means that Maxwell was virtually acting as a shadow throughout the entire game on the talented Denver receivers.

Had Maxwell struggled, Manning would have certainly found the open guy like he had all season for Denver.

Throw in one of the more impressive plays of the entire Super Bowl when Maxwell literally punched the ball out of Demaryius Thomas’ hands which would have received more recognition had it not come after the outcome was no longer in doubt, and Maxwell had himself an excellent game.

 

Russell Wilson’s Running Ability

Everyone was so enamored with the Seattle defense in the immediate aftermath of the Super Bowl (and rightfully so), that Wilson’s exceptional game under center didn’t get much recognition.

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - FEBRUARY 02:  quarterback Russell Wilson #3 of the Seattle Seahawks looks to pass against the Denver Broncos during Super Bowl XLVIII at MetLife Stadium on February 2, 2014 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/G
Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

While his passing numbers of 206 yards, two touchdowns and zero interceptions were discussed, the handful of scrambles had a larger impact than it seemed.

In total, Wilson ran three times for 26 yards, but the influence of those three runs went far beyond the box score. One came off a read option with Lynch that froze the linebackers for just a moment, which forced the defenders to think about that in every ensuing handoff.

Furthermore, Wilson eluded pressure inside the pocket with his feet and bought time on a number of passing plays. Were it not for his quick feet under pursuit, a number of his 18 completions may not have happened.

Seattle’s general manager John Schneider understood that Wilson’s impact went beyond the box score, per Frank Schwab of Yahoo! Sports:

“Russell’s not a stats guy. He’s a guy that’s about winning games.”

Now he has won the biggest game of all.

 

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