January 30, 2014
Jack Mortell '15
When Super Bowl XLVIII comes to a close in a chilly Metlife Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ, the Denver Broncos will have emerged victorious over the Seattle Seahawks for one reason: Peyton Manning.
Let’s be more specific. The Broncos will win because their offense is led by Manning’s brain not his arm. Consider these stats: He threw for 5,477 yards and 55 touchdown passes this year, both new NFL records. He directed the highest single-season scoring offense in NFL history, amassing over 600 points. And in the Broncos’ last two postseason games, their offense punted just once. All this from a 37-year-old quarterback who had four neck procedures 22 months ago, and who has lost so much strength in his right arm that he needs to wear a glove on his throwing hand to grip the ball properly in the cold. With his mind’s ability to read and manipulate defenses, he can make every throw, even without the ideal zip.
Manning’s great antagonist in this narrative is polarizing Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman. Widely viewed as the best cornerback in football, the trash-talking Sherman recently named Manning the smartest quarterback in football. When MMQB.com’s Peter King asked Sherman if he was going to try to get inside Peyton’s head, Sherman’s response was revealing: “You can’t get in Peyton’s head. If you get in his head, you’ll get lost.” Even the leader of the vaunted Seahawks defense, who thrives off mind games with his opponents, says he won’t attempt to trash-talk Manning.
In Manning’s career, his mediocre 4-7 record in games when the temperature falls below 32° (contests in which he typically wears a glove on his throwing hand) has drawn much scrutiny. This year’s Super Bowl will be the first played outdoors in a cold weather climate, with early estimates of a freezing temperature by game time. Is this a reason to worry? Well, in the 11 games in which Manning wore a glove for a better grip, he threw 33 touchdown passes while averaging 332 yards a game, according to ESPN. To put those insane numbers in perspective, Peyton threw for more touchdowns in 10 games with the glove than five out of the six Pro-Bowl quarterbacks threw in their respective entire seasons. The cold and the glove are not going to be an issue for Manning.
Peyton Manning, a future first-ballot Hall of Famer who is threatening every major passing record, has won just one Super Bowl. In a sports age where many hold we measure success by the number of championships won, some don’t consider Peyton the best quarterback ever. Don’t think that Peyton isn’t aware of the talk. His legacy will be profoundly affected by the outcome of this game. If there is one thing we know about Manning, it’s that when he sets his mind to something, he does it.
Ben Fields '15
They’ve been called thugs, the Legion of Boom and many other things, but when it comes down to it, they are the best darn secondary in the league. And it is these men that the Seattle Seahawks will rely on when they take the field on Sunday night against Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos.
Ever since his ill-fated interview with Erin Andrews, far too much attention has been focused on star cornerback Richard Sherman. Instead of focusing on a few poor comments, the media should have looked at the fact that the Seahawks defense ranks first in the league in opponents passing yards, is the only team to have two cornerbacks ranked in the top 10 for interceptions (including Sherman’s first-place total of eight) and has a special teams unit that almost set the record for fewest yards allowed in a season.
The Seahawks have proven throughout the season that they are the toughest team in the league. Seattle has conceded 20 or more points just three times in 18 games, postseason included. Their defense has stood strong against some of the best offenses in the league, from Drew Brees’ Saints to Colin Kaepernick’s 49ers, and will stand strong against Manning’s Broncos on Sunday.
If the Seahawks can continue to contain their opponents passing in the Super Bowl, they will win the game. Unlike Kaepernick, Manning is not a particularly mobile quarterback and will be unable to post anything close to the rushing yards Kaepernick had in the NFC Championship. Consequently, the Seahawks’ tremendous pass rush should be able to pressure Manning and make Denver’s traditional pocket quarterback uncomfortable. The game will undoubtedly come down to how the Seahawks defense holds up against one of the greatest passing quarterbacks of all time.
On the other side of the ball, Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch have combined to be one of the most lethal offensive duos in the league. Lynch has already had a monster postseason, racking up the most rushing yards of any running back, to compliment his 1,257 in-season yards. Although Wilson struggled early in the playoffs, he has proven that he can stay strong and does not collapse under pressure. Denver has not been particularly impressive on the defensive front (19th in overall defense) and has struggled against passing all season, so look for the Seahawks receiving corps to be a huge factor as the Seahawks inevitably take control of the game.
It’s been just eight years since the Seahawks were robbed of a Super Bowl title by poor officiating, but this year little can stop them. Although they will be 3,000 miles from home, you can be sure that the Twelfth Man will travel to the Meadowlands and cheer on their Seahawks to their first Super Bowl championship.