Apparently, the idea that defense wins championships is more than just a tired cliche.
The Seattle Seahawks and their top-rated defense in the NFL completely shut down Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos’ high-flying attack, winning Super Bowl XLVIII 43-8. Seattle scored more points on defense and special teams alone than the league’s best offense did the entire game.
ESPN.com’s John Clayton gives us an inside glimpse on just how talented and deep that Seahawks defense really is:
Pete Carroll assembled the essence of a team. Linebacker Malcolm Smith won the Super Bowl MVP, and technically, he's not even a starter. K.J. Wright was the regular-season starter. The Seahawks brought in Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett in free agency, and they didn't even start. The Seahawks are deep, young, fast and talented.
However, not all the credit belongs to the defense.
ESPN Stats & Info points out the rarefied air Wilson entered with the victory:
Russell Wilson's 28 career wins are the most by a QB in his first 2 seasons in the NFL (during the Super Bowl era). pic.twitter.com/yDTFjt4w4U— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) February 3, 2014
Nevertheless, defense was the name of the game on Sunday. With that in mind, let’s dig into a discussion about the best defensive performances during the Broncos and Seahawks clash.
Clearly, when the Super Bowl MVP is a linebacker, he is going to land on a list of the most impressive defensive performances.
Smith’s touchdown return off the interception could not have come at a more critical time. The Broncos were finally starting to garner some offensive momentum as they moved the ball down the field following the abysmal start, yet Smith was there to intercept the errant Manning throw, along with Denver’s hopes, when it was deflected in the air.
However, his impact was felt beyond the interception and touchdown, as ESPN Stats & Info points out:
Malcolm Smith played half of the Seahawks' 64 defensive snaps in SB. Broncos averaged nearly a yard less per play when he was on the field.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) February 3, 2014
Smith ended up with 10 tackles and a pass deflection and was critical in stopping the run and covering underneath routes from Denver.
He earned that trip to Disney World.
Anytime a team scores 43 points in a game, it is only natural to assume the opposing defense struggled throughout.
That really wasn’t the case for Denver. Yes, it wasn’t a great game from the Broncos defense, but a large percentage of the 43 points either directly came from or were set up by timely plays and great field position from the Seahawks defense.
Denver’s defense, as it had been for the entire postseason without Von Miller on the field, was led by Danny Trevathan.
Will the Seahawks make it back to the Super Bowl next year?
Trevathan totaled 12 tackles, including one for a loss, and was flying around the field throughout the Super Bowl. Trevathan was largely responsible for Marshawn Lynch’s struggles, as the formidable running back only posted 39 yards on 15 carries.
There were very few silver linings from a Denver perspective after the Super Bowl, but Trevathan’s performance was one of them.
For as great as Smith’s MVP performance was, a very valid argument for Kam Chancellor as the game’s best player could have been made in the aftermath.
Chancellor and Smith both tallied a Seahawks-high 10 tackles. Chancellor also broke two passes up and intercepted a Manning pass of his own.
Will the Broncos make it back to the Super Bowl next year?
Despite the impressive box score performance, many of Chancellor’ s contributions went unnoticed in the actual statistics. He was imperative in shutting down the likes of Julius Thomas (only 27 receiving yards) and many of the middle routes to Wes Welker that Denver relied on throughout the season.
Chancellor is just one cog of the formidable and imposing “Legion of Boom,” but he was the most impressive cog of the group during Super Bowl XLVIII.
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