Super Bowl XLVIII Rapid Reaction

Published on Sunday, 2 February 2014 21:16 - Written by Terry Blount, ESPN.com Jeff Legwold, ESPN.com

 Rapid Reaction: Seattle Seahawks

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- A few thoughts on the Seattle Seahawks' 43-8 Super Bowl victoryover the Denver Broncos Sunday at MetLife Stadium: 

What it means: The Seahawks are the NFL champions, winning the Super Bowl for the first time in franchise history. Seattle ends the season 16-3. The Seahawks lost their only other Super Bowl appearance, 21-10 to thePittsburgh Steelers on Feb. 5, 2006. 

Stock watch: A defense like no other, and one that now will go down as one of the best in NFL history. It was an absolutely dominate performance by the Seattle defense against the Denver record-setting offense. The Seahawks did what almost no one has been able to this season by getting pressure on quarterback Peyton Manning and forcing him to make mistakes. Manning threw two interceptions in the first half because he was swamped by rushing Seahawks. Defensive end Cliff Avril had two deflections and Chris Clemons had a forced fumble and one deflection. Middle linebacker Bobby Wagner got his hands in Manning’s face to force the first interception. 

The $67 million Super Bowl man: Percy Harvin just earned his keep. After a season where injuries caused him to play only six quarters, Harvin showed why the Seahawks spent all that money to sign him. He put the game away with an 87-yard kickoff return after he picked up the ball on a bounce. He also had 45 yards rushing on two end-around plays in the first half. He was the difference-maker everyone thought he could be. 

Smith gets his due: Linebacker Malcolm Smith had the game-saving interception in the end zone against the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship, but it was hardly noticed after Richard Sherman (who tipped the pass that Smith intercepted) had his post-game rant. Well, Smith got his moment in the Super Bowl with a 69-yard pick-six in the second quarter and a fumble recovery in the third quarter. 

MetLife a second Seattle home: The Seahawks may want to lobby to play more games in New Jersey. In two games at MetLife Stadium this season, Seattle outscored its opponents 66-8. 

Manning family maulers: The Seattle defense was kryptonite for the Manning brothers this season. Eli Manning threw five interceptions in the 23-0 Giants loss to the Seahawks. Peyton Manning had two interceptions and neither of them had a touchdown pass. 

Bam-Bam Kam: Strong Safety Kam Chancellor was a force throughout the playoffs for Seattle. That continued in the Super Bowl when he had an interception and several punishing hits that he’s famous for delivering. 

What's next: Parade time is coming in downtown Seattle. No date has been set yet, but it’s likely Wednesday or Thursday. That may cause more seismic activity on the shores of Elliott Bay. After that, the Seahawks will have some free agents who will be in high demand during the offseason, like defensive lineman Michael Bennett and receiver Golden Tate.

 

Rapid Reaction: Denver Broncos

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Thoughts on the Denver Broncos 43-8 loss to the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLVIII: 

What it means: The demolition of the Broncos' grand plan means the Broncos may have come a long way since their 4-12 finish in 2010 with John Elway running the show, but they still have plenty of ground to cover to get to where owner Pat Bowlen and Elway want the franchise to go. The Broncos did not show what Elway calls the “mentality to win a championship" right from the moment center Manny Ramirez sailed the first offensive snap pastPeyton Manning's head. 

Stock watch: Coaches coach and players play to be sure, but the Broncos were supposed to have an advantage with a veteran head coach in John Fox and some veteran hands on staff like Jack Del Rio, Dave Magazu and Richard Smith. But the Broncos looked out of sorts from the start and showed plenty of bad body language throughout the first half as the game was ripped from their grasp. 

More questions: Manning hates the questions, his teammates hate the questions and most people in and around the Broncos hate the questions. But after quieting the what’s-the-deal-with-the-playoffs talk ever so slightly with wins over the San Diego Chargers and New England Patriots in this postseason run, it will all re-kindle with a Super Bowl blowout now on Manning's resume. Manning, who is set to have a physical in the coming weeks, is expected to be back in 2014 if the doctors give him the thumbs up, but this one will sting both him, and the team, for quite some time. 

The flip-flop: The narrative for much of the past two weeks had been how the Broncos’ chances for a Super Bowl victory depended on whether or not their defense could hold up. But in the end the defense more than held up its end of the bargain as most everything else around the Broncos unraveled. From the air-mailed snap to open the game to poor pass protection to Demaryius Thomas’ fumble to poor special teams play, the Broncos defense was the least of the team’s worries when the game was still in doubt. 

What’s next: Elway has always said a team can’t be afraid to ask itself the tough questions and the Broncos will have plenty of tough questions to ask. They simply weren’t good enough, not tough enough, not resilient enough to recover when things went bad early Sunday. Broncos will have to look hard at adding some defensive pop in the coming months, especially since linebacker Von Miller and cornerback Chris Harris Jr. are recovering from ACL injuries.