Finding things that went right during Super Bowl XLVIII for the Denver Broncos is somewhat like searching for a needle in a haystack.
After all, it took a mere 12 seconds for the record-setting offense to make an uncharacteristic mental error that put Denver behind the eight ball immediately. Then, when the Broncos were finally driving and trying to put together some momentum, Super Bowl MVP Malcolm Smith intercepted a Peyton Manning pass and ran it back for a score.
Throw in Percy Harvin’s touchdown-return dagger on the second half’s opening kick, and it was incredibly clear who the better team was on the field.
Maybe Denver could at least hear Bruno Mars in the locker room during halftime.
If nothing else, it made Kevin Durant, who used to play in Seattle before the Supersonics became the Oklahoma City Thunder, happy:
Congrats Seattle! You deserve it!!— Kevin Durant (@KDTrey5) February 3, 2014
However, there were some positives to glean from the Broncos’ performance, although they would probably disagree themselves. Let’s dig into a discussion highlighting the most impressive performances from Denver’s losing effort.
Denver’s passing numbers ended up being slightly inflated because it was throwing the ball virtually the entire game after falling behind early.
However, that doesn’t change the fact that Demaryius Thomas had himself a nice day statistically despite the blowout loss. After all, he set the Super Bowl record for receptions in the game.
Thomas tallied 118 receiving yards and the Broncos’ lone touchdown on the type of impressive catch that we have become accustomed to seeing him make. The Seattle defender was completely flanking Thomas and arguably interfered with the pass, yet Thomas pulled it down to finally get Denver on the board.
Who is more likely to return to the Super Bowl next year?
Thomas also came down with a formidable over-the-shoulder grab on a sideline lob at a moment where the game wasn’t completely decided yet.
Yes, Thomas fumbled once, but that was more about an incredible play by Byron Maxwell than Thomas not securing the ball. Maxwell literally punched the ball out from Thomas’ grip with a clenched fist and forced the ball out.
Denver’s defense did not exactly play well, but it certainly wasn’t responsible for the 43 points that the Seahawks had on the scoreboard.
The best Bronco defender was linebacker Danny Trevathan, who tallied 12 tackles, including one tackle for a loss. He was flying around the field the entire game and filled the gaps with regularity when the Seahawks tried to run.
In fact, it was Trevathan who was largely responsible for Marshawn Lynch’s quiet day running the football.
Lynch only rushed for 39 yards on 15 carries, and if you take away the 18-yard gain he had on one run, it was 21 yards on 14 carries. Lynch is one of the best running backs in the entire NFL, so for Trevathan and company to hold him to less than 40 yards on the ground is notable.
To Trevathan’s credit, he has stepped up consistently in the absence of Von Miller. He understood throughout the playoffs that many were doubting the ability of he and his teammates without Miller, as he told Robert Klemko of Sports Illustrated:
I usually don’t even watch that media stuff, but this time I took heed to it. I took it as a personal challenge. I showed the D-line and the linebackers in the locker room on Wednesday on my phone. I said we needed to step up.
Wes Welker was really the only Denver wide receiver who actually got open consistently throughout the Super Bowl.
Yes, Thomas’ stats were better than Welker’s eight catches for 84 yards, but Thomas also accumulated his numbers on the back of multiple incredible catches in the face of tight coverage.
Welker darted underneath the Seattle shell on a number of occasions and caught eight of the 10 passes that were thrown his way. He also hauled in the Broncos’ two-point conversion for good measure even though it ultimately didn’t have much of an impact on the final result.
The good news for Denver is that there is plenty of talent in place for another run at a title next year. This one still hurts though.
Let me know on Twitter who you thought stood out during the Super Bowl: