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What I Learned from Super Bowl XLVIII

5 Feb

February 5, 2014

Super Bowl XLVIII - Seattle Seahawks v Denver Broncos

Super Bowl XLVIII surprised a lot of football fans. The game pitted the number one defense in the National Football League against the highest scoring offense in NFL history. It was billed to be one of the most exciting games in recent history, but ended up being one of the most disappointing Super Bowls ever. However, there was a lot that could be taken from the game. Here are just a few gems.

Defense Wins Football Games

With all the new rules that have made football more appealing to the common fan by adding more offense to the games, sports authorities have begun to say that defense no longer wins football games. Sports management teams look for the quarterback of the future in each draft because a good quarterback makes their team competitive every year, and puts an attractive product out on the field for their fan base every game. However, the Seattle Seahawks made it apparent that football games are still won by the most physical teams. They won the battle of the trenches on both sides of the ball, their secondary covered immaculately, and their safeties and linebackers delivered big hits whenever they could. The Seahawks defense and special teams could have beaten the Broncos 16-8 outright without any help from the offense. Great defenses (specifically Seattle’s defense in this case) throw receivers out of rhythm, force quarterbacks into erratic throws, and therefore create turnovers and scoring opportunities for their teams.

Richard Sherman Is the Best Corner in the Game

There has been a lot of talk marginalizing Richard Sherman’s accomplishments on the football field because he does not move around the field with the opposing team’s best player. Well, Sherman only covers the left side of the field, but he did not allow a single pass to be caught on his side of the field. Every pass thrown at him was an incomplete pass. He switched between covering the big, powerful and fast DeMaryius Thomas, the tall, rangey Julius Thomas, the quick, shifty Wes Welker in the flat, and even worked well in some zone blitzes. Sherman played press coverage on most plays and bullied the receivers so that they could not run their routes. On the few occasions where the Denver Broncos matched their best wide receiver, DeMaryius Thomas against him and Sherman could not bully him, he played perfect coverage on the receiver and either slowed his route with technique or deflected the pass.

Super Bowl XLVIII - Seattle Seahawks v Denver BroncosA lot of defenders get the same view of Harvin as #30.

Percy Harvin Is Fast

Harvin may be the fastest man in the league. He played a grand total of 38 plays this season before the Super Bowl. In his first four touches of the football in the Super Bowl, he had 137 yards. Percy Harvin single-handedly destroyed the Broncos defensive playbook with his speed and athleticism. Without Harvin, the Seattle Seahawks offense is fairly predictable even though it is still difficult to defend. Play the run upfront and watch for the play action pass over the top to beat them. The entire offense was predicated on Marshawn Lynch’s ability to break tackles, pound defenses, and score while emasculating the other team. Defenses were set up to neutralize Lynch. But, Harvin added a dimension to the Seattle offensive play calls that no one had seen. He was electrifying with the football every time he touched it. And, he was faster than anyone could have ever imagined. Because he has had so many injuries, people forget that Percy Harvin is the reason that Tim Tebow had a NFL career. They looked at Tebow’s touchdowns and completion percentage, and thought that Tebow was great. But, he was throwing quick slants to Harvin who then took those passes the length of the field for scores. Percy Harvin was the fastest player on the field in college, he was the fastest person on the field in Super Bowl XLVIII, and he may be the fastest man in the NFL.

Peyton Manning Is Not the Best Quarterback of All-Time

Let me start by saying that I have stood firmly in Manning’s corner for his entire career. He is a special anomaly in the game, a humble star who transcends his team and makes his teammates better. When Peyton Manning was criticized by football fans for only winning one ring despite being so great, I told everyone that a Super Bowl is about having a great team, not about having a great quarterback. When people said plainly that Tom Brady is a better quarterback than Manning, I told them that Brady is not in the same league that Manning is. And, all of that is still true. However, I was absolutely wrong about one thing. I said that Peyton Manning may be the best quarterback of all-time. I was mistaken. Peyton is still one of the top five quarterbacks to ever play in the NFL, but his legacy is tarnished by less than stellar appearances in the playoffs and in two Super Bowls. Manning has the statistics to prove his mettle; he owns single season records, game records, and has accomplished more passing the football than any quarterback other than Favre or Marino could ever hope to achieve. A Super Bowl win would have placed him firmly in the conversation for best ever. However, Peyton shrunk on the biggest stage. He had a talented receiving core, a good defense, and good coaching, but Manning never recovered from a errant turnover that occurred on the first play of the game. The best quarterback of all-time would have. Though his legacy as a football great is intact, his opportunity to usurp Joe Montana as the best has past him. Ironically, in the biggest game of the season, the Broncos played their worst game. And Manning, their leader, consequently broke two records. He now holds the record for most pass completions in a Super Bowl though he never made an impacting play. And, the more apropos record for his legacy is his number of playoff losses, 12. It is a testament to his greatness, but it is an indictment of his inability to perform in some of the biggest games.

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