Boom!

They say the NFL is a league for offense. So how, then, was Super Bowl XLVIII decided, and dominated, by a group of tormentors raising hell around Peyton Manning and wreaking havoc for the most potent offense in league history? This is the anatomy of a dismantling

(Donald Miralle for Sports Illustrated/The MMQB)
(Donald Miralle for Sports Illustrated/The MMQB)

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — An hour after the lopsided Super Bowl conquest no one east of Yakima saw coming, Pete Carroll was bounding across the MetLife Stadium turf, holding wife Glena’s hand, surrounded by four or five cameras and as many security people, going from one on-field interview to the next. I was in this you’d-better-get-out-of-the-way-or-you’ll-get-flattened pack, asking Carroll about his team and the beatdown.

But something stuck in my mind, and I had to ask this first. During the week, I was the pool reporter assigned to cover Seattle practices and distribute whatever news might come out of them. Which, in this week, was precious little.

Carroll’s Seahawks practice to the constant and very loud drone of music, hip-hop and rap mostly. Early in the week, Carroll will sneak in a James Brown or Earth, Wind and Fire tune from his youth, or maybe Michael Jackson. But by Friday, it was mostly unrecognizable to this 56-year-old Springsteen and U2 fan. Luckily, I had Shazam, that app that allows you to hold up your phone when a song is playing, to learn what it is.

Among what was played, I’m guessing at about 90 decibels, for the entirety of Friday’s practice: “Fast Lane,” by Bad Meets Evil, “More Bounce to the Ounce,” by Zapp, “We Own It,” by 2 Chainz, “Last of a Dying Breed,” by Ludacris, “We Ready,” by Archie Eversole, “Ambitionz Az a Ridah,” by Tupac, and “Hold Me Back,” by Rick Ross.

(Donald Miralle/Sports Illustrated/The MMQB)
(Donald Miralle/Sports Illustrated/The MMQB)

When “Hold Me Back” came on, the team was practicing red zone plays. Important tuneup for the biggest game of their lives, and the last time they’d go full speed before the game. Between snaps, the entire defensive line was dancing on the field. Quarterback coach Carl Smith, 65 and with a bum hip, was even swaying. Carroll saw that, and smiled. Then the ball was snapped, and backup running back Christine Michael pivoted left out of the backfield and went down. A couple of defenders, Clinton McDonald and Bobby Wagner, hustled over to Michael, who was slow getting up, and each took a hand as all three laughed about something. This is what I saw during the week: a team having fun at practice, like it was some dance party, and a team that really gets along. And works at a fast pace.

“I’m glad you saw that,” Carroll said. “That’s real. That’s who we are.”

For those who think music is counterproductive, that you need to have teaching moments at a football practice without having to shout over music, and that players switching jerseys for no good reason (Marshawn Lynch was swimming in tackle Breno Giacomini’s shirt on Friday) is a distraction, I have one score to point out:

Seattle 43, Denver 8.

* * *

 

(Damian Strohmeyer/SI)
(Damian Strohmeyer/Sports Illustrated/The MMQB)

After that Super Bowl rout Sunday night, one of the Seahawks’ most respected players, fullback Michael Robinson, thought he had it figured out.

“Football is a game,” Robinson said in the bowels of MetLife Stadium. “A game. Pete has figured that out. He makes football fun. All aspects of it—practices, games. One of our goals is to play at a level other teams can’t match. That’s what you saw tonight. What do you see when you see a team, running around practicing to music all week? They’re loose. They’re full of energy. And that’s what we are. I know it works for us.”

The analysis of this Super Bowl will center, rightfully, on a voracious defense. This was without a doubt one of the best defensive performances in Super Bowl history. This is one game in which stats lie. Peyton Manning set a Super Bowl record with 34 completions, and he threw for a respectable 280 yards.

But Manning managed only 51 passing yards in the first 26 minutes of the game, and by then it was over. Seattle led 22-0 by that point.

Think of what an incredible defensive performance this was. In the 94-year history of the NFL, Denver’s 606 points this season were the most ever. But on a night when weather was borderline balmy for New Jersey in February, the conditions were no excuse. And all Manning could do was manage some garbage yards late when half of America had turned the game off. In my 30 seasons covering the NFL, I can remember only three defensive performances that compare: the Bears’ stifling 46-10 rout of the Patriots in Super Bowl XX, Baltimore’s 34-7 beat down of the Giants in Super Bowl XXXV, and the Giants shocking New England—at that point the highest-scoring team in any single season—17-14 in Super Bowl XLII.

“Nobody here thinks we’re done. And we really think we have such a great chance here to keep it going. That’s how you distinguish yourself in this game.” —Russell Wilson

This defense had it all. We came in praising the Seattle secondary endlessly, and the secondary played great, putting a halo of punishment on almost every Denver reception. By that, I mean every play, no matter what the route or who the receiver was, had two or three defenders pouncing within a millisecond of the catch. Clearly, Denver offensive coordinator Adam Gase should have called some double moves, or more deep stuff to try to clear out the middle of the field. Seattle was so on top of everything Manning did.

But one of the reasons it would have been difficult for Manning to do anything deep consistently was because he couldn’t breathe. Much will be written and said about this game concerning Manning’s continued inability on the biggest of stages not to preform. There was certainly some of that: I detail later in the column how I thought he made some terrible decisions, especially on the final drive of the first half, when Denver was trying desperately to find some spark. So blame Manning. He deserves a good bit of it, especially when he aims a throw that was a poor decision that ends up being intercepted by Kam Chancellor.

(John W. McDonough/SI)
(John W. McDonough/Sports Illustrated/The MMQB)

But there were so many unstoppable rushers for Seattle, and none more than Cliff Avril, the former Lion. He had just a so-so first season with the Seahawks, but he made an amateur out of Denver right tackle Orlando Franklin. Avril had three big plays in the first half, including two heavy pressures on Manning that aided both interceptions. I was one of the 16 voters for the MVP last night. I voted for Avril. It could have gone to many. I wish I could have penciled in “Seattle Defense.” Because collectively, that truly was the MVP of this Super Bowl.

One other thing about these Seahawks. In the locker room after the game, Pete Carroll whipped up his team as if he were still coaching college kids at USC. He stood in the center of his men, surrounded by players and cameras. The Super Bowl makes strange bedfellows: “The media is so omnipresent that coaches rarely get any significant postgame time with their teams.”

But as Carroll went through praising the vast majority of his roster for its tremendous performance, at the end the players took over.

One yelled out, “We all we got!”

The response from teammates screamed, “We all we need!”

More on Super Bowl 48

Greg A. Bedard analyzes what went wrong for the Broncos. (Short answer: everything.) FULL STORY


Seattle was clearly the best team in football this season. And that may be the case for quite a long time. Andrew Brandt lays out some reasons why. FULL STORY

“Then a shout went out. “What’s next?!”

“We not done!”

After almost everyone had cleared out, after midnight, the last bus waited for Russell Wilson to get dressed.

“We work so hard, man,” said Wilson. “That’s the gratifying part of it: Nobody here thinks we’re done. And we really think we have such a great chance here to keep it going. That’s how you distinguish yourself in this game.”

Scary thought for the rest of the NFL. A young quarterback who is afraid of nothing and a young defense that just played a game like the ’85 Bears. Indeed, Seattle is not done.

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677 comments
ProfessorGriff
ProfessorGriff

No way is Bettis a hall of famer.  I can name 15 running backs from his era that I thought were better and some of them won't end up in the hall of fame.

Patokev
Patokev

Too cold and it negates the true goodness of Guinness. The colder the stout, the irrelevance of the stout itself. Thus speaks an Irishman....

SMacAttack
SMacAttack

This sentence amazes me: "Cliff Avril, the former Lion, had just a so-so first season with the Seahawks." Not true. Cliff Avril had a great season with the Seahawks, regardless of the stat sheet says. Just ask his coaches and Seahawks fans. He terrorized opposing QB’s all season long. It’s amazing how clueless the national media is when it comes to the Seattle Seahawks.

PackersFanNumeroUno
PackersFanNumeroUno

Starting a team would you pick Wilson or Kaep for your QB? (Of course everyone would take Rodgers 1st but this is between kaep & wilson)

liquidmuse3
liquidmuse3

You mention Lechler, as if to bismirch Guy. No, Lechler should get in too, just like Morten, & Vinatieri.

RockinManny
RockinManny

PK-> 'its been a good year' (with a sigh of relief ) that finally his Superbowl prediction came true for a change!! So Mr SeacokSukka who's it gonna be next year ???????

mwr5053
mwr5053

I'm no advocate of northern cold-weather Super Bowl sites but FedEx Field in Wash, DC is one of the larger NFL stadiums in the country I believe, no? So, what will it take to get a Super Bowl in our Nation's Capital sometime in the next decade or so? I say it'll never happen if the Washington NFL franchise doesn't drop the "Redskins" . moniker to please all of the PC bleeding hearts. I hope it never happens but that's one strategy (bribery?) Goodell and the NFL could use against the Redskins franchise. You've heard of "Pay to Play" in politics; Why not "Change your name to Play Host to SB"? 

badbeatya
badbeatya

This just in:   the NJDEP Division of Fish and Wildlife is looking to detain/question Kam Chancellor for picking off a duck out of season.  Additionally, Percy Harvin is also wanted as he is suspected of putting a dagger into the hearts of Broncos everywhere.

David32
David32

For someone who is purportedly a journalist, Peter demonstrates very little investigative acumen. He continues to pretend that the NFL demonstrated that the Saints had a "bounty" program where they intentionally tried to injure opponents, yet every piece of "evidence" the NFL put forth was quickly and conclusively shown at best to be an extreme stretch of circumstances, and at worst to be a flat out lie. (For those of you that will bring up the Gregg Williams speech: First, it was not part of the NFL's evidence, it was released later by a sleaze all trying to make a quick buck. Second, the speech was simple words, what really maters is the Saints actions. They played the game after the speech without even committing a penalty and were one of the least penalized teams for the time period in question. Third, the "kill the head" line is pretty common in football. It was even painted on the wall of the Chiefs facility when Herm Edwards was coach.)

JorgeDeSilva
JorgeDeSilva

If Manning has to face another Seahawks or 49ers team in the next year or so he will never win another Superbowl. And thanks to Bill Belichick's arrogance as a GM, perhaps Brady won't either. 


Serena
Serena

Seriously Strahan voted into the hall before Haley?? 


Guess being a media darling really pays off when it comes to deciding whether or not a player was better than another player.


Seattle defence - the best team a chemist could put together, do you think that the cloud of Addral use will impact on how this team is thought of going into the future? 

RonAglund
RonAglund

Here's the definition per Webster of bounty for you Peter. I suggest you look it up next time or please let us know which of these is so suspect.

1:  something that is given generously

2:  liberality in giving :  generosity

3:  yield especially of a crop

4:  a reward, premium, or subsidy especially when offered or given by a government: as 

  a :  an extra allowance to induce entry into the armed services 

  b :  a grant to encourage an industry 

  c :  a payment to encourage the destruction of noxious animals 

  d :  a payment for the capture of or assistance in the capture of an outlaw

We all know you love Roger Goodell but by his definition and I'm guessing yours Seattle ran a "bounty" program this season but I didn't see you or Roger throwing the same tantrum and indignation as last time...

jdileonardo
jdileonardo

Its time for teams to rethink paying an elite QB $20M.  Under the cap it kills a teams ability to bring in the surrounding players and added depth needed to make it through the season and win a super bowl.  Manning makes 17 times what Wilson makes.  Clearly he is not 17 times more valuable.  The two best teams in the league (SEA and SF) have the two lowest paid QB in the league.  I realize you can't pay an elite QB < $1M but I think their real value is around $10M-$12M.  Its a better value proposition by giving a team the ability to pay a few more players.

KevinNovak
KevinNovak

Peter, you include a paragraph and an additional comment about a multimillionaire who lived in a make-believe world who slowly took his own life with drugs.  You somehow couldn't include a comment about the death of Terry Bradshaw's father?  Oh, wait.  Bradshaw is a talking head on another network...

ki.nazir72
ki.nazir72

Only the Jets could have Pete Carroll who had all the makings of an amazing Coach then, only the Jets could allow him to walk…There are very few Coaches and he's one of them.

BillHeinsonSr.
BillHeinsonSr.

Moxee, Washington is east of Yakima, barely. We not only saw it coming, we were sure it was going to happen.

JimCody
JimCody

"Seattle is so clearly the best team in football."

Except that they came within one play of getting beat by SF at home and would've lost if the game was in SF. It should read "Seattle so clearly has the best designed stadium in football."

unitcaptain11
unitcaptain11

@SMacAttack Avril made some huge plays this season.  HUGE! 

Avril and Bennett were most of the Hawks pass rush this season.  And Avril has a knack for knocking the ball out.  A couple plays like that are worth twice as many sacks.

HectorRex
HectorRex

@mwr5053  It'll never happen until you get a playable field.  That field was a travesty in the SEA-WAS playoff game last year.

Red-Stripes
Red-Stripes

@David32  Well, the Saints clearly didn't learn anything from the scandea;/suspensions when sideline cameras showed them high-fiving and celebrating a penalized helmet-to-helmet hit on Percy Harvin a couple of plays into their meeting with the Seahawks a few weeks ago.  Made for some bad optical.........

Mike26
Mike26

@David32  Oh gawd, WHY did PK have to mention ANY Saints for ANY reason?  Vilma hasn't been an effective player in 4 years and he keeps rehashing this thing.  


1.  The Saints are guilty.

2.  This isn't a court of law, it's a court of NFL with Goodell as judge (and backed by a REAL judge too)

3.  There will always be an asterisk by their win

4.  Gregg Williams will remain as dirty as ever - as will his teams, especially under the guise of amazingly mediocre Jeff Fisher

5.  PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE don't let drudown hijack this string!

drudown
drudown

@David32  


As a threshold matter, you wrongfully assume facts NOT in evidence. Taken to its illogical conclusion, you have NOT reviewed the evidence the NFL did in the Saints alleged Bounty Program. So, why are you taking a position that you have no personal knowledge of and trying to wield an imaginary sword around? Aside from your non sequitur, feeble attempt at character assassination- to "buy" your rendition of operative facts- it is "far fetched" to think a defense in the NFL "could" have a bounty system. Let me guess, you think "super-PACs" have had "no effect" on Congress' "shut down", "fracking water is safe to drink," Climate Change is a hoax, etc. Do I have that right?

Sdwalt
Sdwalt

@David32 The only people who care about the whole bounty thing anymore are a few bitter Saints fans. The rest of the country could care less.

Mike26
Mike26

@Serena  Perhaps a correctly-spelled post would help your case.


On the other hand, after deciphering what you DID write = probably not.

badbeatya
badbeatya

@Serena Do you think that your bad spelling and grammar will impact how you are looked upon?

KristinDiggins
KristinDiggins

@ki.nazir72  Wasn't he replaced with Rich Kotite?  For an ownership apparently so insightful politically given Mr. Johnson's guests t the game, that same group sure has struggled picking coaches.

HughJardonn
HughJardonn

@JimCody Don't forget the horrific officiating that went 95% against SF there also.

DiamondMask
DiamondMask

@JimCody  

but you lost the super bowl last year and the NFC championship this year........how strange you're still busy patting yourself on the back.

Rick57
Rick57

@JimCody Wow, you pathetic losers just can't grasp reality. One play or a hundred plays, Seattle beat SF to win the NFC. If your QB makes the throw it's different story and if I have had chosen different lottery numbers I would be a millionaire. You can talk about ifs all you want but the scoreboard doesn't lie. What could have happened is solace for losers. What's your excuse for not winning the Super Bowl last year?

BigSchtick
BigSchtick

@JimCody Barley lost in San Francisco and blew them out in Seattle, again. What is your point? Woulda coulda shoulda? WAAAAAAAAAA!

konenp
konenp

@JimCody  Absolutely agree and I'm (unfortunately the last two decades) a Skins fan.  The more accurate statement would be that the NFC is clearly ascending again like it did in the 80's and early 90's except the NFC west will play the role of the NFC east.  AFC has big name QB's just like in that era (Elway, Marino, and Kelly) but NFC has the more physical and better balanced teams.  

rskins09
rskins09

@HectorRex @mwr5053     Your right .. Had season tickets  for years @ RFK  and Fed Ex field ...Still can't figure  out  what  happened to Fed Ex  field  year before last   when Skins beat Dallas ( Yes ! )  and the game they lost to Seattle ..Remember Redskins were up  14-0  in the 1st quarter ...Sure it rained  between these two games  but it wasn't any monson , hurricane  ...Don't blame Pete Carroll   for being ticked after ..the game ...BTW, predicted  Seattle would be in the Super Bowl  this year ...Never seem a defense as dominate as  Seattle's for years ...Reminds me of the 1985 Bears  but with plenty of no-name players...   Impressive win for Seattle ..Not  taking anything away from Seattle, but feel   Manning AND  the Broncos  were playing in mountain time  & ..Manning forced way too many throws..Too many of his screen passes the Broncos offense looked as they  were playing in slow motion...... Weird ..

David32
David32

Yep, I'm sure you are absolutely correct that the Saints are the ONLY team who would ever do such a thing! It is amazing the double standard that exists here.

David32
David32

@Mike26 @David32  Claiming that the Saints are guilty is your opinion, backed by nothing other than Roger Goodell's word.  There was no "real" judge that supported his contention.  The closest they came was Mary Jo White - a former judge who was paid by the NFL.  In fact, she offered up one of the most outrageous lies in their "evidence" when she claimed that they knew Anthony Hargrove said "Give me my money" in a video becasue you could see his lips moving.  Once the video was made public, it was obvious to anyone who bothered to look that Hargrove's face was not even in the picture, so it was impossible to see his mouth at all.


There is no asterisk by their win - whichever one you are referring to.  They played the game on the field the same as the other team.

David32
David32

@drudown @David32  I am fully aware that there may be evidence which the public has not seen that could make a difference.  However, I find it extremely far-fetched to buy into the theory that the NFL would put worthless "evidence" on display when they had something more substantial.  That makes no sense whatsoever - they are trying to demonstrate the legitamacy of their claims, so they will do so by proffering the most feeble and flimsy bits of evidence in their possession?  I don't think so.  I am aware that there could have been stronger evidence that they did not want the public to see, but then why release anything?  Why make your case look bad when you don't have to?  And to be clear, I never said it was "far-fetched to think a defense in the NFL could have a bounty system".  What I said was the NFL provided no evidence to support their contention that the Saints had done so.

David32
David32

@Sdwalt @David32  If that were true, then why did King feel the need to put it in this column?

DavidHarte
DavidHarte

@BigSchtick @JimCody  


Lil'Schtick


Sorry, but January, not October, is the test.  Seattle got out of that game by the skin of their teeth.  Period.

MarkTitus
MarkTitus

@JayLandon64 @rskins09@HectorRex@mwr5053I gotta agree, and disagree with you in many different ways.  I too watched Da Bears of 85.  I'm 59 this month, been watching football since I was in 1st grade.  Seen all the dominate D's (too many to name), and you're right to a certain extent.  Chicago, was like no other for 1 year, and 1 year only, I don't care what anyone says.  They had a pretty good year in 84, but it was 85 that got them their championship.  In 86 they started to lose their grip on intimidation.  OC's figured out the 46 during the off-season 86.  I remember that team like yesterday, and to THIS day I've never understood why they got so many accolades for just 1 year.  Yes, they were scary, but they also had quite a few more rules on their side as far as what a defense can get away with.  It also didn't hurt to be in the 2nd biggest market either.  The media hype they got was ridiculous during that season.  McMahon had the game of his life against Minnesota on a Monday night and all hell broke loose.   They released "The Super Bowl Shuffle" during that same week. Laughable thinking back on it.  Embarrassing then,. . . laughable now.  Still, back to back shutouts while yielding a paltry 10 points to win a Lombardi is very impressive indeed.  I'll give em that, but that's all I'll give em.  These full grown men in the Pacific Northwest didn't have no cakewalk through their playoff run either ya know.  Alright, I'll spare you the details.  What we just witnessed was a defense that will be known as the greatest to ever win a championship.  I've seen em all when it comes to Super Bowls, but this one stands alone.  For all the marbles, the Seattle Seahawks stepped up like no other in championship history, let alone, Super Bowl.  From start to finish, no D ever DOMINATED like Seattle.  Again, Start to Finish.  When you couple that with the rules of today, the offense they were playing. . . only a lunatic would argue with it.  You might wanna slap yourself into consciousness. 

JayLandon64
JayLandon64

@rskins09 @HectorRex@mwr5053


"Reminds me of the 1985 Bears ..."


Yes and no.  Seattle had a dominant defense, and their results do remind of the 85 Bears, or the 2000 Ravens or the late 80s-early 90s Giants, but...


I always hesitate to compare any defense to the '85 Bears.  That Ravens team, those Giants' teams and this year's Seahawks all had similar results to that Bears team, but none did it the way that Bears team did.  I have NEVER, in 45 years of watching, seen a team UTTERLY terrify offenses the way that Bear team did.  Not intimidate, this went way beyond intimidation.  The Ravens, Giants, Seahawks, 70s Steelers, those teams were intimidating.  They intimidated offenses.  The 85 Bears terrified offenses.  That was the best defense I have ever seen.


This year's Seattle defense?  I'd say third, just behind #2 2000 Ravens, but slightly ahead of those Steeler and Giants Ds.

JaredRide
JaredRide

@EssJ @DavidHarte @BigSchtick @JimCody  Kaep choked in SB47 AND in this years NFC Champ game with the exact same pass to the exact same receiver.     SEA DOMINATED SF in the NFC Champ game, they just let off the gas too early against SF... they learned from it, as evidenced by the SB48 score where they NEVER let off the gas.

EssJ
EssJ

@DavidHarte @BigSchtick @JimCody  Had Kaepernick not choked and completed that touchdown to Crabtree you could have said that SF "got out of that game by the skin of their teeth. Period."


Of course, the only way that would happen is if Sherman was shot by a sniper, hit by a bolt of lightning or was otherwise incapacitated. There's no way Sherman would have let Crab catch it if he was anywhere near him.


Maybe Kaep can learn to throw the touch pass with high arc that Wilson has perfected. If he executes that type of throw on that play he might....a big might...have cleared Sherman and delivered it to Crab. You can tell him good luck with that the next time you see him.

Rumrunner11
Rumrunner11

@DavidHarte @BigSchtick@JimCodyMan, every time I think the term 40-whiner gets overplayed, some moron comes out and says Seattle was 'lucky' and 'barely' won.  Niners have the second best team in the league - ain't no shame in that???!!!

badbeatya
badbeatya

@JimCody Lol!  Wow.  I believe Seattle 'got out of that game' because the best defense in the NFL intercepted a choke artist trying to throw to a mediocre receiver.

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