DENVER SHOULD HAVE HAD A BETTER PLAN. Having watched the NFL for about 40 years now, one thing I distinctly remember from Super Bowls past was the use of scripted plays. If my memory serves me correctly the 49ers and Packers used to script the first 15 plays and run those with little variance. I cannot understand why the Broncos, with two weeks to prepare, could not have come up with a game plan prior to the contest. It seems very unlikely that Seattle did anything remotely out of character to start the game. Denver should have been prepared for how to attack the “soft” areas. Then Manning simple has to get to the line and determine who would be the best target based on the look he gets. There should have been no reason for that “chicken dancing” that led to the botched snap. What do you think?
Many teams do the scripting you talk about, which allows players to visualize what they’re going to run early in a game. On the play in question, Manning obviously wanted to communicate something to his team prior to the snap. It’s impossible for Manning to know the precise look he’ll get from a defense he hasn’t played in four seasons. Sometimes he’ll change the play based on where the linebackers are lined up, and based on how many defensive backs are in the game. But I agree with you: There is no excuse for the Broncos not to be able to play with noise.
THANK YOU. In the first quarter of the Super Bowl, Pete Carroll challenged the spot of a ball hoping to pick up a first down. The refs ultimately ruled that Russell Wilson was short of the first down, but that the ball was closer to a first down than initially ruled. I know the rules say that the Seahawks should have been charged a timeout (and they were) because they didn’t get the first down, but why? Pete Carroll challenged the ball was incorrectly spotted; it was. Who cares of the significance of the new ball spot as long as Carroll was correct in saying the refs erred?
—Steven, New York City
Couldn’t agree more. The NFL has to change this rule.
GOOD WORK, ZEBRAS. Please mention the outstanding job that the referees did in the game. They kept total control, not letting after-the-play issues get out of hand, letting the teams play, and not having controversy linger in the game. They get enough criticism, but they deserve a shout-out for the job they did.
—A.D. Adams, Jr., Portland
Glad you made that point. Thanks for pointing out that the best an official crew can do is not be noticed. That’s unfortunate, but it’s the truth. And there wasn’t much reason to notice them on Sunday
THE NEW COWBOYS? Is it just me, or is it fair to compare this Seahawks team to the great Cowboys team of the early nineties? Both teams hot off 12-plus wins in regular season, both with two very young rosters, both win the Super Bowl in blowout fashion, both coached by championship college coaches in their fourth years. Fair comparison?
—Dave Gonyea, San Antonio
Well, I think the style of the quarterback is different. The receiving crews are different. And the Seattle secondary is absolutely premiere, while the Dallas secondary was pedestrian. Where they’re the same is in the power running game and defensive speed, as well as the coaches’ college pedigree. I think it’s difficult to compare Seattle because there aren’t many great teams that I remember that have a mobile quarterback, a power runner, a speed defense, significant youth, and a lack of marquee stars, at least now. I’ll be very interested to see how this team grows.
A MATTER OF STYLE. Doesn’t it seem that the philosophical approach to football ultimately made the difference? Denver is led by Manning. He is THE unquestioned leader of the team. He is the boss and the players are the employees. It was that way in Indy as well. How he goes, so goes his team. It was obvious the psychological effect the game had on Peyton. He was shell-shocked in his post-game interview, stammering for words, his confidence shattered. In contrast, Seattle is an 11-man team effort with interchangeable parts. Anyone can step up on any given game day. It showed once again on Sunday that football is a team sport.
—Michael, Los Angeles
I love your email. In today’s game, the best teams are the ones less reliant on a single player. In a late-season five-game stretch, Seattle’s offense averaged just 20 points a game and was totally reliant on the defense. But we see how much they were helped by Russell Wilson coming up as big as he did in this game. Conversely, if Peyton Manning and his protection have a bad day, there’s a good chance it’s lights-out for Denver. Good points by you.