Now that the game is finally over, everybody can relax. Entering Super Bowl XLVIII, the National Football League got exactly what it wanted: a game worth watching. Peyton Manning, who was given the league’s MVP award a day earlier, was coming off the best season by a quarterback in NFL’s storied history, and he was leading the league’s best offense. But the Denver Broncos’ prolific aerial attack would have to get through the Seattle Seahawks’ top-ranked defense.
And XLVIII did everything but follow expectations. Manning threw more interceptions than touchdowns, and Denver, the league’s highest-scoring offense, got blown out. Everything from the game’s opening kickoff to Bruno Mars’s halftime performance proved that Seattle was the better team. And if you were watching at home, while you may not have experienced the same excitement as the fans that were at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey, you got to see America’s best commercials during the breaks. What more could you ask for?
All things aside, here are five things to take away from the Seahawks’ 43-8 rout of the Broncos.
1. It wasn’t the “Ice Bowl”
This year’s Super Bowl was the first outdoor game held at a cold-weather location. It was bad timing, considering this winter has been one of the coldest in quite some time. Fans and players everywhere expected the worst, thinking they would watch a game in the midst of a colossal, freezing snowstorm. It was anything but that. The mid-40s temperature may have had Fox sportscaster Erin Andrews in a winter coat, but it really felt like spring in New Jersey after this winter.
Yes, East Rutherford, New Jersey, isn’t Miami or Los Angeles when it comes to the climate, but the weather played as much of a factor in the outcome of the game as did Denver backup quarterback Brock Osweiler. Manning and Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson had no issues throwing or gripping the ball — well, Manning did, but not because of the weather — and both team’s defensive units weren’t even remotely affected by the weather. Some fans hoped for a “Snow Bowl,” but it wasn’t in the cards, probably for the better.
2. It’s about time, Seattle
It had only been 34 short years. The last championship by a major Seattle team (the Mariners, then-Supersonics, and Seahawks) was in 1979, when the Supersonics won the National Basketball Association Championship. The ironic part is how dedicated the Seahawks fans have been over the years. Whether it was losing to Pittsburgh in Super Bowl XL or other various playoff losses, the Seahawks have fallen short far too long.
Saying Seattle was due for a championship isn’t even doing the long wait justice. Despite the game being thousands of miles away from Seattle, the Seahawks’ “12th Man” advantage came through, just another example of how a dedicated and loyal fan base can make the difference over the years. The only question for these Starbucks-loving fans that remains: Where are they going to have the parade?
3. Defense trumps offense
Manning and the Broncos hadn’t failed to score points all season. They forced their will on anybody and everybody — how else could Manning break both the NFL’s passing and touchdown mark? But the Seahawks’ top-ranked defense dominated Denver.
The Broncos were shut out in the first half, something that’s unheard of. And not only that, but Denver’s MVP quarterback threw for 104 yards and two interceptions during the first 30 minutes of a game that saw Seattle take a 22-0 lead. Manning played so poorly through the first two quarters that he contributed more points for Seattle than his own team (the Seahawks returned an interception for a touchdown).
The second half didn’t change much, either. Manning threw a touchdown pass, but it was after Seattle had scored more points. Just like when Baltimore won the Super Bowl in 2000, the superior defensive unit was too much for the top-ranked offense. Offenses do score points, but this proved that defense wins championships.
4. Russell Wilson is the answer
The young Seattle quarterback had a very average first half. He didn’t do anything special, but he also didn’t have two interceptions. Whereas MVP-winning Manning lost the game, Wilson did just what he needed to put his team in a winning position.
Come the second half, Wilson surpassed his previous expectations en route to throwing two touchdowns. While Seattle didn’t need the scores (the Broncos scored eight points in the game), Wilson supplanted himself as a elite quarterback. His performance won’t go down in the books as a Joe Montana-esque performance, but he’s still a Super Bowl-winning quarterback in just two short years as a starter.
5. Rookie salaries are a steal
In just his second season, Wilson is still being paid his rookie salary: $526,217. This was part of the most recent collective bargaining agreements that said rookie salaries can’t exceed a certain amount for the initial contract. In terms of maximizing returns, Wilson is far underpaid.
While Seattle will hopefully give him a nice bonus for his Super Bowl win, the fact that he is paid less than 34 times what Manning received season is unfortunate — for Denver, that is. There’s a reason Paul Allen made a fortune from Microsoft: The man knows a good thing when he sees it, and that’s exactly what he got in Wilson.