Super Bowl XLVIII: A fun week but a bad gameThe weather came through, but Manning didn't at MetLife Stadium
The concern about putting Super Bowl XLVIII in New York-New Jersey -- the first outdoor cold weather Super Bowl -- was it would be freezing or there would be a blizzard or the winds would be so bad it would change the game. Once the matchup of the Broncos and Peyton Manning and the No. 1 offense against the Seahawks and Richard Sherman and the No. 1 defense was set, the idea of a one-sided game was never a consideration.
All the concerns, as it turned out, were misdirected.
It was 49 degrees at kickoff, perfect football weather, but only the Seahawks played perfect football. Their 43-8 victory tied for the third most lopsided game in Super Bowl history. The Broncos, who averaged 38 points during the regular season and scored a record 606 points, were unable to do anything against the Seattle defense, which brought big pressure against Manning and locked down the dangerous Broncos receivers.
The Seahawks were completely dominant.
"We feel terrific about it," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. "It's been a long year, but the team really dedicated to getting this done and now we can say we're world champions."
A couple of hours prior to kickoff, Giants co-owner John Mara was standing in the back of the press box at MetLife Stadium saying the week was such a success that he anticipates NY-NJ will be bidding for another Super Bowl. Last week, co-owner Jon Tisch, who was the co-chairman of the NY-NJ Super Bowl Host Committee, said he would like to see the game in New York every 10 years.
"I think you'd be pretty safe to say we'll be looking to do this again," Mara said. "I've just had such positive feedback from so many different owners that I think we should do it again."
Roger Goodell, who was a major supporter of the Super Bowl in New York, has not said if he would back another cold weather Super Bowl. And if he does, then Philadelphia, Denver, Boston and Washington are expected to bid. But Mara thinks New York would have the edge getting a second game over those cities getting a first.
"There are a lot of worthy cities, but let's face it, there is only one area like this in the world," Mara said. "I think the other owners see that all the positives that have come out of this week. I think that's a huge advantage in our favor."
The fact that the weather was so good certainly helps. If there had been a blizzard that made it unsafe to get to the game or if there was a snowstorm that forced the NFL to move the game one or two days ahead of the storm or a day or two after the storm, then it pretty much would have put an end to any more cold weather games. The NFL got very lucky. It was the nicest day of the winter and was followed the next day by snow.
As far as the game, great defense usually beats great offense. Defense wins championships, they always say. But Manning was so spectacular this season that I thought great offense would beat great defense. I picked the Broncos to win 24-16. Last year at this time, I predicted a Denver-Seattle Super Bowl. It was one of the few times I've ever been right about the Super Bowl matchup. But the game didn't play out anything like I expected.
I thought the Broncos would win, and if they lost, I certainly didn't expect them to lose by 35 points. The presence of Manning made this one of the most anticipated Super Bowl games ever. And it was a dud. The Seahawks were up 22-0 at the half and any thought of Manning leading a huge second-half comeback ended when Percy Harvin returned the second-half kickoff 87 yards for a touchdown. By the fourth quarter, fans were leaving the stadium, which rarely happens at the Super Bowl, especially with all the money people pay for tickets.
Manning was harrassed all game by the Seattle defense. His first interception set up Seattle's first touchdown, which gave it a 15-0 lead three minutes into the second quarter. His second interception, caused when he was hit by Cliff Avril, floated right to linebacker Malcolm Smith, who returned it 69 yards for a touchdown late in the second quarter.
Manning was the most compelling player in the NFL this season. He set records with 55 touchdowns and 5,477 yards passing and the playoffs and Super Bowl were really all about him. As spectacular as he has been since coming into the NFL in 1998, he still only has one Super Bowl ring. This was really a legacy game for him. Of course, he's still one of the all-time greats, but 11 quarterbacks have multiple Super Bowl rings and he's not on the list.
My top five quarterbacks are Joe Montana, Tom Brady, Johnny Unitas, John Elway. If Manning had won this game, I would have jumped him up to third. In the NFL, quarterbacks are judged by their rings and it's the one blemish on Manning's resume. He has been to three Super Bowls and is only the third quarterback to take two different teams to the Super Bowl, but he has just one championship.
Manning will be 38 in March. The good news is he plans to keep playing so he still has a chance to get another ring. The Broncos figure to be Super Bowl contenders again next year.
Seattle, meanwhile, is the youngest team in the NFL, coached by Carroll, the second oldest coach in the league who still looks like he's 40. Carroll was fired by the Jets after the 1994 season after just one year as head coach. He had been the defensive coordinator for four seasons, but Leon Hess fired him, and replaced him with Rich Kotite, after the Jets went 6-10. It was not fair and turned out to be a terrible mistake. Kotite was gone after 3-13 and 1-15 seasons. Now Carroll joins Jimmy Johnson and Barry Switzer as the only coaches to win the NCAA title and the Super Bowl. That's quite an accomplishment.
The Seahawks won't get picked apart in free agency - almost all of their top players are signed for next year. Quarterback Russell Wilson, who just finished his second season, is an ascending player. Their battles in the NFC West with the 49ers have turned into the best rivalry in the league.
What makes the Seahawks special is their punishing and very fast defense. Their secondary has three great players with cornerback Richard Sherman and safeties Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor. This team is built to last.
There's been some really compelling Super Bowls recently - both Giants-Patriots games, the Steelers vs. the Cardinals, the Ravens vs. 49ers last year - but this one was so one-sided that it was a letdown.
"It's disappointing for our entire team," Manning said. "We worked hard to get to this point and overcame a lot of obstacles to be here, putting in a lot of hard work. It is a really good thing just to have this opportunity, but certainly to finish this way is very disappointing. It is not an easy pill to swallow, but eventually, you have to."
It was a fun week and a bad game.