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03 Feb 2014

Audibles at the Line: Super Bowl XLVIII

compiled by Rivers McCown, Andrew Potter, and Ben Jones

For this year's playoffs, we have a modified format for our Audibles at the Line feature, combining our Twitter feeds with our e-mail discussion. Firstly, the arrival of the playoffs brings with it the return of our usual back-and-forth staff e-mail conversation. Secondly, every game will also have a selection of tweets from us and a few reader tweets we found particularly insightful. To follow these tweets live on Sunday, or to contribute your own thoughts or a question for the FO staff, you can use hashtag #FOAud. We discussed the new format in this post.

After the last game finishes, we will compile a digest of tweets and e-mails to produce this feature. By its nature, it can be disjointed, not entirely grammatically correct, and dissimilar to the other articles on the site.

Audibles is still being written from our point of view, meaning the comments in this feature are often written from a fan perspective as much as an analyst perspective; in order to properly accuse FO writers of bias, please check our FAQ.

Denver Broncos 8 vs Seattle Seahawks 43


@TCBullfrog: Sweep flea-flicker? What is this, the Pro Bowl?
Aaron Schatz: The Seattle OL just wants to keep this close, don't they?
Danny Tuccitto: Coaches are battling for least valuable challenge award.
Aaron Schatz: BTW, when we said that the SEA defense was as historically great as the DEN offense, WE WERE NOT KIDDING.
Aaron Schatz: Injury to Chris Harris is killing Broncos. Unless they can find a time machine for Champ, they have one dependable corner.
Danny Tuccitto: What was the over-under on when Denver would show up for the game?
@MilkmanDanimal: Beginning to think Denver is playing like this to honor Andre Reed's HOF election #FOAud #smellslikeabuffalosuperbowl
@MilkmanDanimal: The story of this game so far can be condensed down to "Seattle's defensive line is way better than Denver's offensive line."
@RobertGrebel: We've secretly replaced Peyton with Eli. Let's see if anyone notices.
@MilkmanDanimal: Words I never expected to say--"you know, right now the Super Bowl MVP is Cliff Avril."
Danny Tuccitto: The halftime show might as well have been named, "The slaughter continues."
Andrew Potter: Well if you thought the start to the FIRST half was bad...
Aaron Schatz: Looks like Jon Ryan will beat Akiem Hicks to the title "First Regina alum Super Bowl champion."
Danny Tuccitto: You know you've screwed up when the Browns front office is applauding your give-up draw.
Aaron Schatz: This game is going to be entered in @fakedansavage's HUMP festival, because Seattle porn doesn't get any better.
@TCBullfrog: @FO_ASchatz Weren't you saying most of the year how the NFC was much better than the AFC? I just remembered that for some reason.


Vince Verhei: Prediction: Seattle 27, Denver 23.

Aaron Schatz: Challenging a spot is always very difficult but I do think it looks like Russell Wilson got the ball out in front of him and got a first down on that scramble in the red zone in the first quarter.

Well, "don't challenge a spot" 1, "I think he had that" 0.

Tom Gower: That's one of the places where you really can get a good idea of where the spot should be. Plus, it's the first half, where the strategic value of a timeout is probably less, so that's not a terrible challenge. Kicking a field goal when you're "just short" of the line of gain inside the 10-yard line, though? Eh ...

Scott Kacsmar: How often do spot challenges really work? Think Seattle should have just went for it and saved the challenge. Get Denver reeling early.

Aaron Schatz: I like the challenge in some ways because if they got it, we wouldn't have to watch Carroll pussy out and kick the field goal.

I'm liking the extra blockers on third down for Seattle. Way to try to make up for the weakness of the line, believing guys can get open against the Denver secondary (especially everyone who is not Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie).

Matt Waldman: So far, the key to this game is working for Seattle: forcing Peyton Manning to take the short stuff and hit the ball carrier hard until Manning grows impatient and tries to force a deeper ball up the seam or deeper outside. Seattle wants Denver to go to Thomas and the running backs more than anyone on the Broncos' offense. Thomas isn't known for handling physical play well and as we've known, Denver gives up more fumbles than any offense in the league.

Aaron Schatz: Also, for Seattle's offense, the lack of Chris Harris, which means Denver has only one dependable cornerback (DRC) unless Champ Bailey can take Willie Wonka's glass elevator to Minusland.

Points to John Fox for going for it on fourth-and-2 in the red zone, especially when Broncos were down 22. No points because Peyton Manning got pressured and threw a bad pass.

And man, that missed DPI on Earl Thomas... Oof.

Tom Gower: Not a bad pass, deflected. At least that time it was Chris Clark and not Orlando Franklin who was the responsible party.

Vince Verhei: Seattle's pass rush, coverage, and kick coverage have been even better than anticipated. I'm a little surprised that Denver has given up so many short routes and third-down conversions, but the bend-but-don't-break philosophy is more or less working for them. I was expecting more shot plays from Seattle. The red zone struggles are not a surprise.

MVP of the first half is Bruno Mars' pompadour.

Scott Kacsmar: The way Denver played that first half, I get the feeling starting the third with a surprise onside kick would result in another return touchdown and 29-0 score. The only people who ever enjoy a rout are the fans of the winning team. Takes away so much of the analysis and interest in the game. "They got their asses kicked" is simplistic, but there's not much more to add right now.

Rivers McCown: Trindon Holliday is a sneaky anti-MVP candidate. Nearly fumbled and has generally put the Broncos in bad field position.

Tom Gower: The Broncos can't run the ball, even with Seattle playing a lighter box. They, specifically Orlando Franklin, are getting beat badly in pass protection. Peyton is the best pass pressure-avoiding quarterback since probably Dan Marino, but there's only so much he can do and we're seeing the limits of that tonight. Of course, not being able to threaten the defense vertically doesn't help, though if Seattle cheats on the wide receiver screens too much I'm sure they'll try at least one deep shot off a fake screen.

They haven't played that badly on defense -- the only Seattle touchdown came off a short field, and Seattle's generally enjoyed good field position, much better than the Broncos -- but the way the offense has been thus far they would have had to be perfect. Good tackling on Marshawn Lynch, generally, but it's kind of irrelevant given the other side of the ball.

Scott Kacsmar: I was close.

Aaron Schatz: This is going to be the shortest FO Super Bowl Audibles ever, right?

I'm starting to wonder if Pete Carroll knows all of Peyton Manning's audibles and played him in practice.

Rivers McCown: Not really a lot to say that hasn't already been said here.

The only interesting thing to me at this point is if the Seahawks defense and Steven Hauschka will be enough to win me the Scramble fantasy playoff league.

Cian Fahey: Historically productive offense.

Historically good defense.

Vince Verhei: Seattle forces their third fumble, gets their first recovery. I want everyone to know that I am thoroughly, thoroughly enjoying this game.

Aaron Schatz: Yeah, it turns out that the league's top offense did not in fact cancel out the league's top defense.

Cian Fahey: I'd like Jermaine Kearse or Percy Harvin to win the MVP so I win money...but I actually think Richard Sherman deserves it. Manning hasn't even looked his way besides one underneath in route and one deep ball that was basically a throwaway.

Scott Kacsmar: They should just let the Seahawks accept the MVP award as a team. Not sure we've seen many games where a team was this good in every phase of the game.

Vince Verhei: Seattle's offensive line, which everyone (including me) expected to struggle, has barely let a defender get a finger on Wilson.

Aaron Schatz: They did hold a bunch and the run blocking was mostly awful, but yes, they did pass block well.

I don't even have any trenchant end-game comments to wrap up Audibles with. That was like 30 minutes of game and three hours of anticlimax. Congratulations to all the Seattle fans.

Tom Gower: Game over. 43-8. Not the sort of entertaining, competitive game those of us who weren't fans of either team were rooting for. This was a hard game to break down, because a lot of it depended on how the individual matchups ended up working out, something we could guess about but didn't know for sure until we'd actually get to kickoff. And, when they did, Seattle won all of them. They won the physical matchups with the Broncos receivers. Julius Thomas was a non-factor. Eric Decker was practically invisible. Wes Welker had a couple catches but wasn't the factor over the middle I thought he might be. They couldn't run the ball at all, as Seattle played great run defense. The running back screens didn't work at all -- more credit to the defense.

Did the defense play well enough to win? I thought they were fine, not perfect but good enough if the offense had been reasonably effective, at least until the team went down four scores. They struggled then, particularly with tackling (the Kearse touchdown, whoof), so yeah. And of course Seattle's big special teams edge was another factor, as we thought it might be, but it pales to what happened in the big strength versus strength matchup.

Congratulations to the Seahawks. Fans, enjoy your title. Winning is great.

Rivers McCown: In retrospect, I find it incredibly funny that we were so willing to declare this game over at halftime after what we've been telling ourselves all season. I guess something just felt much more dominant about the Seahawks in this game than it did for, say, the Chiefs against the Colts in the Wild Card Round. Or the Patriots against the Broncos in the regular season.

My congratulations to Vince Verhei on his team's achievement. It's pretty nuts that this is one of the youngest teams in the league and it's already at this height. I don't envy the extension decisions John Schneider will have to make in the future.

Aaron Schatz: Congrats to our old buddy Doug Farrar, too, who was the first Seahawks fan on staff, right after the 2005 team almost made it to the pinnacle and fell short. Not this time.

Vince Verhei: As the resident Seattle, uh, resident on staff, I feel like I should be contributing some big emotional wrap-up piece on what this means, but I'm finding it very hard to do. Maybe it's because I'm a professional writer now (to some degree) it's because I've been basically expecting this for a year, maybe it's because the game was such a wipeout, but as the clock ticked to zeros, there was no real sense of elation. By and large, I was done with the emotional outbursts after Harvin's kickoff return. So when the game was done, I just felt peace and relief. I'm smiling, and I'm happy, but that's about it.

And then I saw the Facebook video of my cousins, two grown men in their 30s, hugging and weeping. And I saw Big Lo (the giant fat guy with the "SEA-FENCE" sign in the end zone of every Seattle home game) crying on TV. And I think maybe this just hasn't sunk in yet and it'll hit me later.

Posted by: Rivers McCown on 03 Feb 2014

231 comments, Last at 09 Feb 2014, 6:15pm by LionInAZ


by Boots Day :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 1:32am

The key to me seemed to be the tackling by the Seahawks' secondary. Early on, Manning was hitting the little three- and four-yard crossing patterns he likes so much, but the Broncos receivers were getting blasted, and adding absolutely nothing after the catch. The Broncos must have had about 5 YAC in the first half, and then, of course, the game was over.

Denver had been turning those little hitches into first downs all year, but they didn't stand a chance tonight. I have never seen a secondary hit like that.

by young curmudgeon :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 10:46am

Messrs. Blount, Edwards, Shell, and Wagner cordially invite you to watch some old game tapes, joined in their solicitation by Tatum, Atkinson, et al, and Ronnie Lott and friends.

Perhaps it's just fading memory, but the Seahawks looked to me as if their pass defense was a throwback to how it used to be played.

by Pottsville Maro... :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 11:32am

This is far more impressive. For most of those guys' careers, they were allowed to bump, hit, and grab guys all over the field until the pass was thrown. The Seahawks play under the modern rules restricting contact, yet generate more or less the same results.

by bravehoptoad :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 2:54pm

...and do it by more or less ignoring the modern rules.


by beargoggles :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 1:40am

I thought Seattle's defense might be perfectly suited to stop Denver's offense, but I wasn't expecting this. Brought back memories of mid 80s-mid 90s Super Bowl slaughters.
If it were a boxing match they would have called it after the 4th quarter kickoff return with one of the hardest hits I've ever seen. Hell, probably earlier, but that's when I stopped watching.
Scary--I have bad dreams of the Seahawks being the early 90s Cowboys, having a 4-5 year run and frustrating the NIners.
Hopefully they'll overpay the "MVP" like Larry Brown but I somehow doubt it.

It would be easy as a Niner fan to say we would have won the Super Bowl if... yada yada yada. But Denver would have been much more comfortable in that match-up. The secondaries aren't close.

by amin purshottam :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 2:29pm

I disagree, the niners would have steamrolled the broncos also

by beargoggles :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 1:44am

who would people have picked for MVP? Definitely not guy in right place at the right time I figure.

Sherman or Chancellor?
Percy Harvin for igniting the offense?
Russell Wilson for really having an outstanding overall game?

I thought Seattle had a great overall game plan to not fall in love with Beast Mode, and attack the outsides of the defense early and often.

by Yaguar :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 2:09am

Smith had a great game in terms of making tackles and stopping YAC all over the place.

I'm sure he basically got it for being Mr. Deus Ex Machina Interception, but he's actually a good player.

by beargoggles :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 2:50am

OK, this is where I admit I can't keep track of their non-Wagner linebackers and the volume was low on the TV. They were certainly awesome collectively, closing rapidly on short completions and administering vicious lickings to all.

by EricL :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 2:59am

According to the boxscore, he also tied for the team lead in tackles with 10. So, if you're not going to give it to the entire defense, it may as well be him.

I think it's a great indicator of the kind of team Seattle is when you had serious arguments for any of five or six players from all three facets for MVP. (Yes, you could even make an argument for Haushka as well as Wilson, Harvin, Smith, Chancellor, Avril, Baldwin, and probably others.)

by Perfundle :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 2:54am

Players that influence the game invisibly never get MVP awards, like Earl Thomas in the regular season, and Sherman in this game when he erased Decker.

Avril had the biggest game-changing plays, when he hit Manning's arm on the second interception and hurried Manning into throwing his first. Advanced NFL Stats agrees, and has him with the highest WPA.

Chancellor had the second highest, and was great throughout the game. The MVP should've gone to one of them.

by RickD :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 3:12am

Avril looks like the MVP to me. That pick-six completely changed the game. Instead of the Broncos closing to within one TD before halftime, they are suddenly down three scores, against the toughest defense in the league. And then the kickoff returned for a TD?!? That was when I went from "there's plenty of time left" to "there's no way in hell they can come back."

The Broncos really missed Clady today. With better pass protection, Manning has more time, doesn't make the same mistkaes, and this is a competitive game.

by Independent George :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 1:13pm

I agree - Avril decided the game in the 1st half.

by Perfundle :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 2:32pm

Clady doesn't protect Manning's right side, which is where Avril applied his pressure.

by The Ancient Mariner :: Tue, 02/04/2014 - 10:24am

Clark was getting abused all game as well. If the LT had been holding the line, they could have helped Franklin out. As it was, there were just too many cracks in the dam.

by Biebs :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 1:46am

I have a general question regarding challenges. Seattle challenged the spot in the first quarter, and while they didn't get the first down, the ball was moved by almost a yard, which created a 4th and inches scenario.

If Seattle challenged the spot of the ball, why did they lose the challenge? The spot was wrong, and off by a fairly significant amount, and the spot was changed. I get it wasn't a first down, but does a team only "win" a challenge if they get a 1st down? Can you even win a spot challenge without gaining/losing a first down/touchdown.

by EricL :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 2:01am

Can you even win a spot challenge without gaining/losing a first down/touchdown.

No, you can't. You can't just challenge a spot anymore. You can only challenge a spot in relation to the yard to gain, or the end zone. So, no matter how far the move the ball after the replay, if it doesn't change the down situation you lose the challenge.

by MJK :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 2:34am

I always thought this was stupid. Of course, I think the whole system is kind of dumber than it needs to be...but there's a big difference between 4th and greater than a yard, and 4th and inches. Changing the former to the latter is a success, in my opinion.

by Jerry :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 7:20am

If that half-yard seems important enough, than it's worth spending the time out. One reason for the rule, though, is to discourage challenges (and the attendant time involved) when the result will be 3rd and 7 instead of 3rd and 8.

by Paul R :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 1:50am

It will be fun tomorrow to read all of the sports columns and count the instances of the phrase "ass-kicking." See who opts for the more G-rated "butt-whooping." (My money's on Peter King.) No doubt the New York Times will use "dominaing victory."

by serutan :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 1:03pm

Wasn't in a column, but SI's lead story banner this morning was pretty clever: "Hawk and Awe".
Was wr

by justanothersteve :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 1:57am

Trivia: Denver now has the three worst halftime deficits in Super Bowl history. XXII - 25 points. XXIV -24 points. XLVIII -22 points.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 2:25am

Well, a couple of things. I called for Denver's overrated wide receivers to get soundly beaten by Seattle's dbs, but this was ridiculous. I'm hesitant to even call it a professional effort by the stiffs with horses on their heads. To me, the last straw came at the end of the half, when Denver still was contemplating a competition, and Julius Thomas makes no effort at all to sell the PI on Earl Thomas Hell, if you aren't going to look like you think you can catch it, then the referee likely isn't going to call it. Really awful.

I expected Seattle to win by six, so obviously I missed something. Like, among other things, snapping the ball over the qb's head on the first snap of the game. A kickoff return which, by the way, I called just before it happened. It just seemed predictable, but I certainly didn't expect Denver to make it so easy, by looking like 11 drunks trying to find a set of car keys.

To beat Seattle, you really have to be willing and able to stand toe to toe, and trade hooks and upper cuts. There aren't many teams suited for it, and Denver ain't one of 'em.

by Perfundle :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 3:01am

"Like, among other things, snapping the ball over the qb's head on the first snap of the game."

Well, Seattle has been striking it rich with free safeties.

by MJK :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 2:36am

So... do you think any of the other AFC contenders could have made a better showing? New England, perhaps? Probably not San Diego or Indy. Cincy, if they were on?

by EricL :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 2:54am

Looking at things right now, whichever of Seattle/SF/Arizona/Carolina that comes out of the NFC next year shouldn't have a whole lot to fear from anything the AFC is putting up. (Not saying double-digit favorites or anything, but there's a blueprint now, it's a copycat league, and the top NFC teams are MUCH closer to realizing that blueprint than AFC teams.)

Philly or New Orleans would be a bit of a different story, as they're closer in construction (if not style) to the top AFC teams. You're going to have to bring a serious defense to the party to have a real chance for the next few years.

Off seasons can change a LOT, of course, but there are so many potentially dominant defenses in the NFC and only, what one? two? in the AFC that can come close to matching that. Put a good-to-very-good offense with one of those four defenses, and you've got a matchup nightmare for the top AFC teams.

by RickD :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 3:05am


There were a lot of injuries in the AFC this year. The Pats had a flood, and the Broncos were also missing some key players at the end. And let's not forget that the Panthers barely won a home game against the Pats. I'm not quite ready to put them up at the Seahawks/49ers level.

Things can change quickly in this league. Look at what happened to the Texans and the Falcons in 2013. Could the Bucs play much better under Lovie Smith? That's certainly plausible.

by EricL :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 3:17am

If Arizona can improve their offense this offseason, yes. Arizona. That defense is nasty. Carolina might have a little more work to do on the offensive side, but they're up there as well.

My point, really, is that there are a small handful of teams in the NFC in position to do what Seattle just did, and I don't see teams in the AFC quite on that level.

I'm REALLY looking forward to the Denver @ Seattle game next year. That may tell us a lot if Denver's healthy coming into that game.

All this said, the Super Bowl is just one game. Nearly anything can happen in just one game. I'm of the opinion, however, that we'll see the NFC Championship be toughest matchup of the postseason over the next, say three or four years.

by LionInAZ :: Sun, 02/09/2014 - 6:04pm

I think the Chiefs are a better-rounded version of Arizona. If they had not lost both Jamaal Charles and Knile Davis in the same game, I think they would have beaten the Colts. Alex Smith is not much better than average at QB, but Carson Palmer gives up too many turnovers because his OL has too many holes.

by Duff Soviet Union :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 4:09am

It's worth noting that Arizona was, at least by one measure, the oldest team in the league this year (the NFC West is a division of extremes. The Rams and Hawks were the two youngest, the 49ers and Cards the two oldest).

The 2014 Bucs could easily be the 2013 Chiefs.

by Jeff M. :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 3:38am

Worth noting that Seattle was still quite a bit better on defense than those other three teams, particularly pass defense (ARI and CAR were actually better run defenses than SEA this year but Seahawks were historically good against the pass).

Most of the difference seems to be in the secondary--the three other teams you mention all have strong front 7s and pass rushes, but all three combined have one DB (Peterson) who would make it on the field in Seattle's dime package.

It's not at all clear to me that the other three would match up as well as Seattle does against Denver or a healthy NE (or SD for that matter, although they're a lot easier to outgun on the other side of the ball), and it's hard for anyone to be very close to the blueprint when the blueprint is "add three All-Pros to your defensive backfield, plus a handful of other highly talented contributors, preferably at low salaries and with minimal draft capital."

by panthersnbraves :: Tue, 02/04/2014 - 9:53am

Right now it appears Carolina has three big gaps to fill - Secondary (Legion of Whom), Offensive Line (right side = Defensive Tackle and a turnstile) and Wide Receiver (aging Smith + Olson + JAG's). Given what Gettleman was able to do in his first year of drafting and free agency while dealing with a tight cap situation, the question becomes: "Can he fill all three in one season?"

Does he hope the injuries to the line work themselves out, and address the other two, or does he focus on he line to get improvement out of the running and passing game, and hope that the rest can work themselves out with a bit more practice?

Their front 7 and Offensive backfield are set, but their over-all identity won't be determined for months.

by dmstorm22 :: Tue, 02/04/2014 - 10:55am

He doesn't need to fill all three. Fill one and that team is really competitive. No team has good players everywhere, with no holes. Filling every hole is pretty much impossible in the current salary cap environment. The Seahawks came close, but even they have average at best o-lineman. The Panthers should go out there trying to get a WR, and probably some more depth in the secondary. Also, they need to have a plan if they cannot retain Greg Hardy for that pass rush.

by nath :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 5:21am

New Orleans had a very good defense this year despite a heavy number of injuries.

by mehllageman56 :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 5:45am

First off, Seattle should be a dominant team again next year, but they're also young and just won their first Super Bowl. They might also party hard for the next five months, derailing their chance at a repeat.

I understand the hype about the defenses of the NFC, but the Niners ranked thirteenth in DVOA this year. The Jets and Bills ranked ahead of them in 2013, and are younger. Cincinnati, Baltimore and Kansas City also ranked higher than SF, and the Chiefs lead to my second point, which is: Defensive DVOA is highly variable from year to year.

Arizona needs a quarterback to challenge for the Super Bowl, and the only ways they will have one next year is if they trade for Roethlisberger or Bridgewater falls to them in the draft, and neither of those is likely. Carolina definitely is a threat, but they need to surround Newton with receiving talent first.

While I joked about a return to the 1980s during the game, I doubt that's going to happen. Perhaps the NFC goes on a little run for four or five years, but the salary cap prevents the extended dynasties seen until the late 1990s.

by Noah Arkadia :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 10:38am

I don't think one game means a great offense can't beat a great defense anymore.

The man with no sig

by RickD :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 12:37pm

I have to agree with that, esp. since the great offense in question was missing its all-Pro left tackle.

What happened to the Broncos yesterday was more than a failure of the offense to move the ball. Pretty much everything that could go wrong, did go wrong, from the first snap of the game.

Part of the problem was the exact same problem that often happens to Peyton Manning in the playoffs. His teams are so used to playing with a lead that they don't know what to do when they have to fight for a victory. They panicked. The coaches panicked, from a bizarre decision to punt from the Seahawks' 40 to a dreadfully executed onside kick not long after that.

by Gladiator of th... :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 1:30pm

As a relatively dispassionate Manning observer, I haven't really bought into the postseason choking storyline. But maybe there's something to it, because I've seen him in the regular season rally his team from huge deficits. Highly improbable comebacks that have had devastating effects to their opponents' morale for the remainder of the season. One such comeback I consider the beginning of the unraveling of the defending champion Buccaneers.

But with the Broncos as a team playing as badly as they were playing last night - no way. Their defense in particular was missing tackles embarrassingly after the first couple of series. The whole team looked like they lacked energy and focus.

by Perfundle :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 2:56pm

Edit: Oops, never mind.

by Perfundle :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 1:47pm

"His teams are so used to playing with a lead that they don't know what to do when they have to fight for a victory."

I highly doubt that. They were behind for nine of the their season games and ended up winning all but three of them. They knew exactly what they had to do, but Seattle simply didn't let them.

by GoDog :: Sun, 02/09/2014 - 4:26am

In any one game, a great offense can beat a great defense. Like everything else, however, it's about probabilities. I think the probabilities bear out that an imposing defense will snuff out a great offense.

One indicator of this is in the recent posting in FO about historical DVOA's for teams before the play-by-play analysis was done. The top 20 teams of total DVOA included the '85 Bears, '91 Redskins, the Steeler '74 and '76 teams, the Green Bay '61 and '62 teams and the Seattle 2012 and 2013 teams. These teams won by have good all-around teams, but they usually featured power running and strong defenses. Sure, there were some teams that had great offenses without powerful defenses, but the number are fewer. The basic philosophy holds and has held through the decades.

by Steve B :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 4:00pm

Arizona? Really?

They've definitely put together a nice D, but I don't see them going much/if any further than they have with Palmer at QB.

by RickD :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 3:00am

Compared to losing by 35?

I don't think any of the AFC contenders were in shape to take on the Seahawks. The best teams were all in the NFC. There was an illusion that Denver could contend with them, but that was based on a soft schedule, a soft NFC East that they got to beat up, and an easy path to the Super Bowl against a flawed Chargers team and a battered Patriots team.

For the first time this season, the Broncos really missed Ryan Clady. They badly needed him protecting Peyton's blind side.

At one point during the game, the Broncos had 10 rushes for 19 yards. That's pathetic.

I really think the Broncos played at a far lower level tonight than they did against the Pats. It's the kind of thing that bothers me - why bother to put so much effort into getting to the Super Bowl if you're just going to lay an egg when you get there? What happened to Wes Welker and his motivational video? Or did he only care about beating the Pats and not so much about winning the Lombardi trophy?

This really felt like most of the Peyton Manning playoff losses I've seen over the years. If the defense gets to him early, knocks him off his mastery of the field, it can take a while for him to regain that aura of invincibility. From that perspective, the safety on the first play was a disaster.

The lesson, as always, is that Peyton Manning cannot win games all by himself. He was certainly willing to tough it out, but I did not see enough of an effort by his teammates.

by Marko :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 4:21am

"At one point during the game, the Broncos had 10 rushes for 19 yards. That's pathetic."

Very true, but the 1985 Patriots would have loved that production against the Bears in Super Bowl XX. The Patriots had 11 rushes for 7 yards in the entire game. The game tonight reminded me greatly of that game in terms of the utter domination by the defense. You never got the sense in either game that the offense could do anything remotely successful consistently. Of course, there is no comparison regarding the offenses that the defenses were destroying. That 1985 Patriots' offense led by Tony Eason was mediocre at best. The Broncos' offense this year was the most prolific in history.

Kudos to Seattle and their defense for their dominant victory.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 9:42am

That's just it; the Seahawks' game is to give you no margin of error, and wen you aren't physical, the margin for error is huge. Starting the game with a turnover and yielding 2 point, in a completely unforced error, just puts a huge crack in the dam. From there, the lack of physicality just made it a matter of time.

The fictional mathup I'd like to see against the Seahawks would be a team like the '92 Cowboys. Extremely physical offensive line, great running backs, physical HOF number 1 wide receiver, and talented qb, along with a very good defense. It's no coincidence that the Niners come closest to them in style.

by Duff Soviet Union :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 4:07am

"So... do you think any of the other AFC contenders could have made a better showing? New England, perhaps? Probably not San Diego or Indy. Cincy, if they were on?"

Oh man, Dalton against that defense would have been a scream.

This was just a great team playing at their absolute best while also catching some breaks (free safety etc).

by turbohappy :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 11:23am

Not so silly to think the Colts would have a shot, given that they beat this team in the regular season. However, I think Seattle is somehow actually healthier than they were then while the Colts were significantly less healthy by the end of the season so tough to see them actually winning.

by Dave Bernreuther :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 12:52pm

I would go so far as to say that there isn't a team in the NFL that could've beaten Seattle with even their best game last night.

I am in awe of how well Seattle played. There were a few early inaccurate throws, a bad challenge/FG decision, a DPI that wasn't called... and otherwise a whole lot of perfection. PLUS a bit of good luck on top of that.

The Broncos could've played perfectly last night and they still wouldn't have won. Instead they were far from perfect and it was a blowout. The Seahawks were as close to perfect as it ever gets in the NFL. It was a masterpiece. (And I *hate* Pete Carroll.) Nobody would've beaten them last night.

by samuellogue :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 1:32pm

I would think that if SF played their "best game" last night they could've beaten SEA. I mean in the NFCCG (in SEA) they played a good-very good game and lost on the final play. Throw in neutral field and elevated play and imo that would make SF the fav.

Having rooted for a few championship winning teams in recent years I've realized just how big of a factor luck was in each and every one. Even though this Seattle team was/is historically great it's still luck that decides every single event elimination tournament.

by anotherpatsfan :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 2:26pm

Not really sure SF would be the "fav" on a neutral field, but it is a moot point. That game won't happen. SF needs to get number 1 seed/home field advantage next year, which is certainly possible.

by samuellogue :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 10:58pm

Well the assumption was that the 49ers would play their best game. How could they not be the favorite over any team on a neutral field? IMO if any of the top 5-6 teams play their best game they should be the favorite over anyone.

by Perfundle :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 2:29pm

Seattle didn't have Harvin in that game.

by bravehoptoad :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 2:58pm

SF also had bad "penalty luck" in the NFCCG. The three turnovers they made at the end of the game lost it for them, but the 2 possessions they lost due to bad calls didn't help.

by intel_chris :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 3:23pm

While I don't disagree with your comment about luck, the games play out the way they do. SF might have been the 2nd best team in the tournament and maybe the team with the best shot to have win the SB if things had been just slightly different. I feel the same way about the 2012 Broncos who took the Ravens to overtime and lost on a "fluke" interception, and no one else came that close to eliminating the Ravens. However, last year the Ravens were the SB champions and this year the Seahawks are the champions and one should not diminish their accomplishments by saying that they might have been beatable by any other team under different conditions. The games were played and the winner took the well deserved prize and sit alone as victors.

by BretU :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 3:02am

Was it the Kearse Tremor to go along with the Beast Quake?

by osoviejo :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 3:21am

Once the Seahawks got past the Niners, I relaxed. A lot.

I think the Cardinals would have had a good shot to win this game tonight.

by RickD :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 12:42pm

With Carson Palmer at QB? And a below-average offense?

I know they beat the Seahawks late in the season, but I have to dismiss that as a fluke.

by Scott Kacsmar :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 4:00am

Denver did set more dubious records in this one.

2013 Broncos: 0 takeaways in three playoff games.

Seven teams have had two games in the same postseason with no takeaways, but this was three in a row. Hard to advance without those plays. Hard to not overlook Denver's pathetic turnover differential going back to last year. I have them at -9 now if you include playoffs.

by Q :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 5:33am

SEA played a Great Game. However, I do think now they will be overrated in the offseason since this will be everyone's lasting memory of SEA.

SEA is truly an especially awful matchup for DEN which heavily contributed to the beatdown. Having Wr's who really struggle vs physical corners and an offense that struggles at time to hold on to the ball are lethal weaknesses vs SEA.

I think the NFC remains wide open in 2014 but that the NFC is far and away the superior conference

by Dave Bernreuther :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 12:54pm

When you play that well you're an awful matchup for any team.

They don't and won't play every game that well, of course, so you're right. But there's still every reason to be scared of them for the next few years. Especially if you're an AFC team.

by the K :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 6:06am

I'm relatively sure Arizona, SF, Carolina, NO, maybe even the Eagles could all have beat Denver tonight the way they were playing.

by Jerry :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 7:32am

Obviously, Seattle had a terrific game. The way the Broncos played, Cleveland would have had a chance to beat them.

by serutan :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 10:54am

You know, the Seattle defense did have a little bit to do with how badly the
Broncos played.

Does this have the potential to be the best SB DVOA for a defense ever? I have to think
the raw VOA will be high, and the opponent adjustment should be nontrivial as well. The latter being the difference between this year and the 2000 Nevermores/1985 Bears.
Was wr

by MilkmanDanimal :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 11:39am

I suspect it will be similar to the '02 Bucs-Raiders game, which was the last matchup between #1 offense and #1 defense. Granted, Tampa had the additional advantage of having inside knowledge of Oakland's plays, but I doubt DVOA has an adjustment for "the opposing coach designed our playbook and we decided not to change any of the play calls" effect.

by Perfundle :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 1:54pm

Oakland wasn't even the #1 offense in DVOA that year (or the #1 scoring offense for that matter); Kansas City was far ahead of them, and it's a pity their defense sucked so bad.

by dmstorm22 :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 11:46am

'02 Bucs would be close, but their opp. adjustment wouldn't be as high. Probably is. Giants in 2007? They didn't get as many turnovers, but more sacks, more incompletions, and a higher opp. adjustment.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 11:56am

If I remember right, one of the few tds yielded by the '07 Giants in their playoff run came on a long td pass in Lambeau after a very fluky tip.

by Travis :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 12:38pm

It wasn't a tip, just Donald Driver breaking through Corey Webster's jam at the line.


Super Bowls XVI (Raiders 38, Redskins 9) and XVIII (49ers 38, Dolphins 16), both shutdowns of the best offenses in the league, will probably rank pretty high on the defensive DVOA list.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 12:50pm

No, there was some other goofy play that resulted in Green Bay getting a ridiculously fortunate benefit.

by Travis :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 1:02pm

Probably the Favre interception at the start of the 4th quarter that R.W. McQuarters promptly fumbled back to the Packers? Green Bay kicked the tying FG 4 plays later.

Sam Madison also had a questionable unnecessary roughness that turned a potential 4th-and-5 into a first down one play before the Packers TD to make the score 17-13.

by TimK :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 6:16am

It reminded me of the first Bronco / Chargers game of the year. Denver dug a hole thanks to some bad plays vs a fired up opponent, and seemed to get rattled early. However there is no coming back into competitiveness against a great defence like the Seahawks without a lot of luck and they got none.

Great work by the Seattle defense forcing the fumbles as well. Knocking the ball out from D Thomas was a big play and a classic of the kind (when you try to stiff-arm someone you leave the ball more open and I wonder how much they were looking for that from Thomas).

Best team won. Probably the more extreme end of possible results, but that doesn't take anything away from the 'Hawks, biggest coaching battle now is for the Seattle staff to keep the intensity next season, they might need it to even get out of their division. Broncos likely waiting for Manning to confirm his return, feel sorry for him at the moment - he played better with little help than he is likely to get credit for. Season MVP can only do so much against a world class team effort.

by nat :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 11:02am

...he played better with little help than he is likely to get credit for.
Don't feel sorry for Manning. He played worse than either his receivers or his line. Against a great defense, his receivers still got open a lot, and pretty much caught all the accurate passes that came their way when they were open.

Against a great defensive line, he was hit four times and sacked just once.

It is true that his receivers were open less often (anything is less than "almost always") than he has been used to, and that he's used to not getting hit more than once in a game. But the degree of help he was getting is what most QBs get most weeks, even on playoff teams.

He made too many unforced errors, inaccurate throws, or poor decisions when he did feel pressure. Even great QBs can have bad games.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 11:08am

I'd be extremely hesitant to make that judgment without seeing the game on the All-22.

by nat :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 11:35am

I would respect that comment more if you hadn't just blamed the Broncos receivers for all the pass offense's failings...

...without seeing the All-22.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 11:45am

When I see a guy just quit, what am I to conclude?

by jebmak :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 1:39pm

(Insert the title of MMQB this week here.)

by Xao :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 1:16pm

As a Seahawks fan, I think Manning deserves a lot of credit for only getting hit four times. Seattle's defensive line basically set up shop in the Denver backfield. I strongly disagree that he got much 'help' from Denver's O-line or running game. I'd love to see the actual YAC figures, but it didn't seem much like his wide receivers did much either. Without the all-22 film it's hard to say, but I sure didn't see much separation downfield.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 1:29pm

They had about 3.5 average YAC, hugely boosted by the the one play that ended with Thomas fumbling.

by commissionerleaf :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 3:36pm


Despite people touting three or four Seattle players as MVP candidates - all defenders - at one point in the third quarter Manning was 30 of 40 for 240 yards, a touchdown, and two interceptions, both INTs coming on tipped balls.

His offense turned the ball over twice after he did everything he could on a play; once because his center threw the ball over his head while he was barking at the left tackle and once when he completed a deep pass and DeMaryius Thomas funbled.

Manning's 279 passing yards were the third highest total this season against Seattle, regular season and playoffs, despite losing 4 (really 5 with the safety) possessions to turnovers.

This was a beating, no question, but blaming it on Manning is kind of insane when the team passes better against Seattle than anyone this year (except -maybe- New Orleans in the divisional round). This game was just a 2010 Manning game; his line and receivers were outmatched so he tries to chew up the field with a million drag routes and curls. And Seattle is not a good team to try that on.

by Scott Kacsmar :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 3:59pm

I think the game was basically decided after the Harvin return. 22-0 leaves the smallest glimmer of hope, but 29-0 means Denver needed the 2nd-biggest comeback in NFL history, and on that field last night against that defense, no one was coming back.

So for Manning's impact on deciding the game, it's really all about the first half.

He was 17/23 for 104 yards, 2 INT. I'm not sure you can find a game in his career where at any point he completed 17 passes for just 104 yards. That speaks a lot to how well Seattle tackled and limited YAC.

Without game charting or All-22, it's hard for me to say how many of those completions were bad plays by the QB where he could have thrown to a better option. Having said that, we're talking about 6 incompletions. Six.

The first was his worst play of the night for the first INT. Just a bad throw under some pressure. Some say it was tipped, but I'm not sure. I need to download the game to really see that.

But after that one mistake he was already down 15-0, which was the last thing Denver could afford to do in this game. The pick-six was an INT just like the ones Manning had in 4Q at Indy and against San Diego (both losses). Hard to really blame the QB when his RT gets abused and he gets hit as he throws the ball. Moreno did him no favors either. Some say he should take the sack, but that would have knocked them out of field-goal range. That's the problem with it being third-and-long and down 15-0, QBs are wired to throw the ball. I bet he would take the sack if it was first down.

One of the six incompletions was Earl Thomas interfering with the receiver and throwing his hands up like he did nothing wrong. All anyone asks of officials is to call it consistently. If Tony Carter deserves a flag in the end zone (he did), then so did Thomas there.

Then the other play of consequence came on 4th-and-2. I believe Clemons tipped that ball as well. Some offenses would have just kicked the FG, but I can understand why Denver went for it.

I'm not sure anyone on Denver can hold their head high for how they played last night, but writing this off as Manning's loss is a joke, even if you could technically say it was the second-worst playoff game of his career. Denver just couldn't execute on any side of the ball that didn't involve stopping Marshawn Lynch.

by nat :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 8:03am

All that writing, and not a single use of the words "interception" or "safety"?

Kinda missed the story of the game.

by Flounder :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 9:08am

As someone who wound up paying more attention to college football than professional this year because my college team (MSU) was far better than my professional team (GB): the game looked like Michigan State's defense playing against Michigan State's non-conference offense.

by bubqr :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 9:33am

Call it overreaction, but considering the youth of this Seattle team overall, the only thing preventing them from becoming a "dynasty" (I hate that word) is the salary cap. They have an outstanding young core of players at key positions.

I feel really bad for P.Manning. Barring any SB win next season, he'll suffer a lot from this.

by jacobk :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 11:03am

The Seahawks' forthcoming salary cap hell has been a little overstated by commentators, in my opinion. They have some fantastic deals right now (Wilson, Sherman, Thomas), but they also have a decent number of fair market deals (Okung, Harvin, Chancellor, Mebane, Avril, Lynch), and some outright overpays (Clemons, Rice, Miller).

Going forward I think they can afford to pay fair market value for the defensive core of Thomas, Chancellor, Sherman, Bennet, and Avril and on the offensive side for Wilson, Harvin, Okung, and Baldwin. The rest of the roster can be filled out by ongoing rookie deals as long as Schneider and Carroll manage at least decent drafts, plus short term veteran contracts to fill holes (the way players talk about working for Carroll, I have to think Seattle will be a popular destination).

Put another way, this year the Seahawks only paid $500k for their QB. But they had a cap hit of $20.3 million for their QB, RB, and TE. In all likelihood by the time Wilson gets paid, the TE and RB cap hits will have been cut down a lot.

by justanothersteve :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 1:40pm

I think you are underestimating how much that core may end up costing. Wilson could easily end up with a $20M/year contract alone. Sherman, Thomas, and Chancellor will likely end up on the high end for DBs. Tackles like Okung almost always command big contracts. Harvin is already a sizable cap hit per year; 2014 $13.4M, 2015 $12.9M, 2016 $12.3M, 2017 $12.35M, 2018 $11.15M. You didn't mention Wagner who will also command a decent contract and while Lynch may not get another big deal, either Michael or Turbin may be ready to replace him and get a decent deal.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 1:44pm

Somebody is going to be willing to vastly overpay Sherman and Thomas.

by jacobk :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 2:03pm

Kam Chancellor is signed to a five year contract that averages ~$7 million per year. Earl Thomas will likely be signed for something like Polamalu money at $9 million per year (possibly less to factor in buying out the last year of his contract). Worst come to worst Sherman is on the books next year for $800k or so and would be $10 million and then $12 million to franchise. Wagner is under club control for two years with a reasonably priced option for year three.

If Sherman signs for ~$11 million per year long term (less than Revis, but more than any other CB, and more guaranteed money than Revis), and Bennett signs for something around $9 million per, that's $45 million to lock up the backbone of your defense. If you're splitting the cap fifty/fifty that leaves $20 million to play with to fill out the roster.

On offense I would think Russel Wilson commands $15-18 million per year on the open market, but let's go with $20 (if they have to pay him that because he keeps winning Super Bowls I'm ok with it). His first extension will have to factor in the cheap year it is buying out; extending his contract by five years (to end seven seasons from now) would cost $100 million, but cap-wise would be divided up among six years, to give you $17 million per year as a cap hit. Figure Harvin is $13 per year, and Okung will be 10-12 (Clady got 5/57, and I don't think Okung is quite on that level). That's $42 million per year, leaving you $20 million to fill out the rest of the roster.

Nobody else on the offense is the type that to my eye commands a premium contract. The big sacrifice will be a transition away from Lynch, but by the time Wilson is getting paid he'll be on the wrong side of thirty anyways.

The nascent Seahawks dynasty could be derailed by injury, bad luck, or improved competition--although if they alternate titles with SF for a while I think they'd still be considered a dynasty--but they shouldn't be at risk of losing major pieces for another five years or so. They'll need to keep hitting on a reasonable number of draft picks to replace non-core guys as they come off their rookie contracts, but compared to the obstacles they faced building this roster to begin with it seems pretty doable.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 2:33pm

Thomas doesn't need to settle for Polamalu money unless he decides he wants to give Seattle a discount, and I'd bet the Super Bowl aura still commands a premium which puts Sherman well past Revis. That's how billionaires, who don't know football as well as their native industries, think.

by jacobk :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 2:48pm

If he doesn't want to "settle" for being the highest paid safety in the league, there's always the franchise tag lurking in the wings. Any long term deal with Thomas would also involve buying out the "discounted" 4.6 million he's in line to be paid next year.

Paul Allen is not Dan Snyder. He sets a vision for the organization, but he lets his football people make football decisions. The NFL is set up to be absurdly favorable to teams negotiating with players compared to other sports leagues. Nothing's impossible, but the Seahawks are far less likely to let one of their core players go for salary reasons than the current chatter would have you believe.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 4:31pm

Polamalu's contract will be three years old this September, and Polamalu's is no longer in the same universe as Thomas. Thomas likely will not settle for Polamalu agreed to in September 2011. I didn't say Allen is Snyder. I said Snyder exists. The franchise tag is problematic, on multiple fronts.

by justanothersteve :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 4:56pm

Allen is not Snyder. But as rich as Allen is, he still can't circumvent the salary cap. He could decide to push the limits for a few years then go through cap hell. Schneider has already witnessed that from being part of the Thompson regime in Green Bay when TT took over the cap mess left by Sherman. While the Packers recovered, their OL rapidly went from one of the best in the league to one of the worst. (Wahle was let go for cap reasons. Not because TT wanted to get rid of him.)

You'll also discover it's a lot harder getting good players when you are drafting at the end of the round for a few years. I'm not saying it can't be done. I don't think the Patriots have had a losing record since BB and Brady teamed up (even in Brady's injury year, they had a winning record). Just saying keeping everyone (and hoping they all stay healthy) is a lot harder than you think it is.

by Perfundle :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 5:23pm

"You'll also discover it's a lot harder getting good players when you are drafting at the end of the round for a few years."

That's not that big an issue for Seattle, considering they haven't really gotten that much from the first two rounds in the last few years. 2011 got them Carpenter, who is often hurt and not particularly good even when he isn't. 2012 got them Irvin and Wagner. The latter has been great, but Irvin is nothing special. 2013 got them Harvin (although Seattle would've still made the trade with the 32nd pick) and Michael, with the latter barely playing at all this year. It's been the late rounds and the undrafted marketplace where they've really struck gold, which gives a three-fold benefit. First, you can trade back to get more low picks; second, they cost hardly anything; and third, they supposedly play with a chip on their shoulder for being drafted so low.

Now, 2013 was the first time where their low picks generally didn't pan out, so we'll have to see if they can get back on schedule this year.

by justanothersteve :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 7:16pm

If you think you'll continue your luck in lower rounds, you're even a bigger fool. It's pretty rare you get an All-Pro in the fifth round, much less two (Sherman, Chancellor). Do you honestly think you'll pick up even one all-pro most years after the first 75 picks? The Seattle 2013 draft was more typical than you might think. Go back and look at the drafts of some excellent GMs like Ron Wolf and Ozzie Newsome. Even they had off-years and totally blew some picks. And they're among the best. Schneider had a hot streak to start. He's probably still going to be good.

You sound like some of the dumber Pats fans about 10 years ago, claiming you didn't have to invest a high pick on a QB because they lucked out with Brady. It's not a bad thing that they got lucky. I think my Packers got lucky with Rodgers because nobody bothered to pick him before the 25th pick. But luck isn't repeatable, especially low round draft luck.

by LionInAZ :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 7:52pm

Yes, luck is an important factor, but so is scouting and coaching. Every staff has its strengths and weaknesses. Ted Thompson seems to have an uncanny ability to obtain quality WRs, but doesn't fare very well with linemen. Martin Mayhew has done a fine job drafting linemen, but hasn't figured out how to get quality receivers or CBs. There is usually plenty of talent available in the first three rounds, even with a low pick. I wouldn't bet against the Seattle organization finding quality defensive players right now as long as they don't lose key player evaluators.

by Perfundle :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 9:30pm

"It's pretty rare you get an All-Pro in the fifth round, much less two (Sherman, Chancellor)."

You really think players that had all-pro potential routinely get drafted in the fifth rounds? That it's just a coincidence that every single drafted secondary player that didn't get injured has been great? Coaching has a massive role here. I won't be surprised in the least if Simon plays at around Maxwell's level next year, assuming he recovers fully from injury.

by The Ancient Mariner :: Tue, 02/04/2014 - 10:47am

Pete's used to redshirting players. Look at Maxwell -- he came in the same draft as Sherman. He was an afterthought for a couple years, then stepped in this season and played at a high level. Tharold Simon's no guarantee, but it's too early to write him off. Ditto Christine Michael, who simply wasn't needed this year; though personally, I think the coaching staff has a higher opinion of Turbin than his play actually warrants, the fact remains that it was never going to be easy for a rookie who didn't know the system to beat him out. Next summer/fall will tell a lot more.

With a lot of this year's rookie crop, injuries are the story -- Jesse Williams, Spencer Ware, Tharold Simon again. Jordan Hill played quite well when he was healthy; he just wasn't healthy for very long. With Williams, of course, it's an open question whether his legs will ever hold up. There too, next summer/fall will tell a great deal.

The only real disappointment of the draft class is Chris Harper, and there, the team's impatience with him is a bit puzzling to me. They obviously saw something that made them decide it wasn't worth taking the time to develop him, but I've never heard a hint of what that might have been.

Could this class end up being a bust? Sure. Honestly, though, if Michael Bowie and Alvin Bailey build on the good things they did this season and live up to the potential they flashed, it won't go down as a terrible class regardless of what anyone else does.

by Gladiator of th... :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 1:38pm

I think one challenge to them becoming a dynasty is their youth. It will be a test of maturity. What happens if they stumble for the first several games of the next season? Will they stick together or start to come apart? Not to say I have an expectation one way or another, but it will be interesting to see what happens in that regard.

by Steve B :: Tue, 02/04/2014 - 1:06am

I think the rest of the NFC West might be their biggest challenge.

by James-London :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 9:37am

Old-fashioned ass-kicking. As a neutral, the worst spectacle since Seahawks/Steelers, but congrats to all the Seahawks fans

Phil Simms is a Cretin.

by MilkmanDanimal :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 9:41am

The whole story for me is the Seahawks were able to get the kind of pressure with four that made you think they were blitzing six on every down; Manning had no time for all of the intricately-designed pass plays to develop. Ridiculous pressure with four, great pass coverage, the game felt over in the first quarter.

by BJR :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 11:19am

To me that's the most impressive thing about the way this Seattle squad has been built. Having 3 all-pros in your defensive secondary and unearthing a franchise QB in the 3rd round is obviously something of a fluke and certainly not replicable for other franchises. But the way Seattle has built a good pass rush with a deep rotation of moderately priced free-agents is an impressive piece of roster building.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 11:43am

Again, that strikes me as the result of an inadequately physical offensive line.

by Perfundle :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 2:04pm

I think the DL dominance is overstated, and was as well in Seattle's first Saints game. Everyone remembers the game-changing plays, but really, it was more about the coverage being so great that the quick passing game that both QBs rely on got completely stymied, and the QB were forced to hold onto the ball for longer than necessary. Fahey noted that even in Denver's first game (when Clady was healthy) the OL wasn't really that good, and Manning simply covered up their deficiencies with pocket presence and a quick release.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 2:29pm

The one reason to listen to Cowher's show is when he has Greg Cosell on, who watches hours and hours of film. Cosell has been saying for weeks that Manning makes the Broncos receivers and o-line look much, much, better than they are (which I suspected last year) , and last week he was saying that Seattle's roster was better by a pretty wide margin. I kept thinking that the public was seeing something I didn't, which is why I said that Seattle would only win by 6.

by Jerry :: Tue, 02/04/2014 - 5:30am

I take it that "Cowher" should be "Cowherd", even if in every other sense, Cowher would be preferable.

by bird jam :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 9:41am

Aaron, next time you do a podcast with Bill Simmons, please ask him what he is going to do with all his free time now that he can no longer watch the NFL.


Q: I agree with you that John Navarre should not be starting in the NFL. However, he is FAR from obscure. Very important question for you, Bill: Do you even watch college football?
--John T., Chicago

SG: Sorry, I refuse to watch any sport where Pete Carroll can be considered a genius. One of my rules in life.

by ibanez_ax :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 11:29am

There will nothing but annoying NBA podcasts and columns until his first obligatory Red Sox column.

by EricL :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 12:11pm

SG: Sorry, I refuse to watch any sport where Pete Carroll can be considered a genius. One of my rules in life.

And I refuse to read a column written by someone who doesn't believe a guy can learn and grow in over a decade.

by RickD :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 12:49pm

Well, the column was written in 2004. Other topics discussed include "Should Nomar get a World Series share?"

by RickD :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 12:46pm

Wow. Did you save a link to that for ten years just in case it might ever be relevant?

by bird jam :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 3:54pm

It was tweeted by a couple of people last night, one of which was the Every Day Should Be Saturday twitter feed.

by Nahoj :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 10:16am

Honestly, this reminded me of a high school playoff game where an overachieving team that barely had enough students to qualify for a large classification goes up against the perennial powerhouse team in that same classification. Not only is one team clearly better, but the underdog team shoots itself in the foot with a bunch of inexplicable mistakes and terrible plays: D Thomas nearly missing a wide open opportunity for a first down by running backwards, then barely getting back to the sticks; the intended receiver on the pick 6 interception just standing there watching the lobbed ball instead of trying to come back to it; the center flinging the ball mast Manning for a safety on the game's first play.

It was just brutal to watch. Felt like Seattle was clearly the better team regardless, but also that Denver just didn't show up to play.

by Dave Bernreuther :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 1:01pm

I agree with that stuff. I thought Moreno's lack of effort on the play you mention was especially egregious and couldn't believe nobody mentioned it (that I saw) on Twitter or of course the broadcast.

But all of that stuff is the difference between maybe 27-20 and 43-8. The Seahawks weren't beatable last night without perfection AND luck. The Broncos had the opposite of both of those.

by jacobk :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 1:13pm

It was discussed a bit in the discussion thread. Moreno wasn't looking until the pass was in mid-flight, and it's understandable it would take a second to figure out what just happened. Malcolm Smith was watching it the whole way and was able to gauge where the ball was going and break on the pop fly.

by Duff Soviet Union :: Tue, 02/04/2014 - 7:17am

Yep. Moreno was running downfield, turned around and then had to come back to the ball. Smith had a running head start. I don't get the criticism of Moreno on that play.

by GoDog :: Sun, 02/09/2014 - 4:48am

Evidently, the Denver coaching staff thought he should have been able to go for the ball. The Sound FX version of the Super Bowl shows one of the Denver coaching staff schooling him on that very point. Check it out if you get a chance.

by Cro-Mags :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 1:33pm

Broncos weren't underdogs.

by Perfundle :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 2:11pm

"Not only is one team clearly better, but the underdog team shoots itself in the foot with a bunch of inexplicable mistakes and terrible plays"

This sounds like something people console themselves with in the hope that a team wasn't really as dominant as they looked. It's not like Seattle didn't make their own share of mistakes. Tate did miss a wide open opportunity for a first down by running backwards; they let Denver get a first down by jumping offsides, and they kept committing defensive interference penalties when it wasn't necessary. And finally, there was Ricardo "I'm running too fast to slow down" Lockette's 15-yarder. I don't think Denver made more than their share of mistakes that every team makes in a game.

by intel_chris :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 3:06pm

I think the underdog comment wasn't so much that Denver was considered the underdog, but that they should have been considered the underdog. DVOA certainly considered them so. They were clearly out-played, and I think many (most) in retrospect would say they were out-classed. The later part is harder to say in the absolute, as few would argue that Denver was "on their game" and still got beat. They were taken out of their game and got beat. How much of that being out of their game was the Broncos fault and how much was the Seahawks credit is up to each of us to decide. I give the Seahawks more of the credit, but it is not irrational to give blame to the Broncos. The terrible plays comment sounds just like that....

by Perfundle :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 3:26pm

Blaming the Broncos is fine, but there seems to be a notion that Denver simply beat themselves, and the scant examples of Denver actually doing that (like the safety) are used as evidence. As far as I can tell, Denver tried everything at their disposal: quick-developing screens, slow-developing screens, pick plays, fake pick plays, draws, bootlegs, play-action. Seattle's speed was simply too fast.

by intel_chris :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 3:39pm

I agree. The Broncos didn't beat themselves. The Seahawks beat them. Denver may not have played up to their game, but for much of the game they were still trying. Now maybe it's just a diehard fan's optimism, but I still thought they had a chance when they put the 8 points up on the board. That was quickly dashed, but I don't think the team had completely given up at that point.

by zlionsfan :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 10:33am

FWIW, Vince, in all sports where I've had the pleasure of watching my team end a long drought* (1984 Tigers, 1989 Pistons, 1997 Red Wings), each time, it happened in dominating fashion, and each time, there was less of a sense of elation and more of a sense of accomplishment.

It's true that there's a significant difference between single-game playoffs and best-of-X series (unless maybe it comes down to Game 7), and that only the Pistons and Red Wings lost in their Finals earlier, but I think it's just different to see a team roll from start to finish. If anything, it feels more like you expect a championship from a team that strong.

*the Tigers obviously didn't go nearly as long without a title, but I was a baby in '68, and it's not like they had a history of championships to build on.

by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 11:34am

No matter how dominant the '89 Pistons or '97 Red Wings were, I never felt truly relaxed until it was clear their clinching games were over. They had looked dominant before and fell short the years prior (like the '96 Broncos or '04 Steelers).

by Marko :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 3:56pm

"FWIW, Vince, in all sports where I've had the pleasure of watching my team end a long drought* (1984 Tigers, 1989 Pistons, 1997 Red Wings), each time, it happened in dominating fashion, and each time, there was less of a sense of elation and more of a sense of accomplishment."

Yeah, aa a Chicago fan, I had similar feelings when the Bears (in Super Bowl XX) and Bulls (in 1991) ended long droughts by winning in dominant fashion. The Bears' game was over in the first quarter. Really, it was over once New England beat Miami in the AFCCG. The two weeks leading up to the game and the game itself was more like a coronation. And the Bulls in 1991 won in 5 games and clearly outclassed the Lakers.

When the Blackhawks ended their drought in 2010, that was more a sense of elation, and was made more interesting with that bizarre ending in Game 6 in overtime when very few people realized right away that the puck was in the net and the Blackhawks had won. All of the announcers on TV and radio in the US and Canada (at least all those I have heard) didn't realize immediately what had happened. That was defintiely a shocking feeeling ("Did we just win???!!!"), followed by elation.

Now if the Cubs ever end their drought . . . I hope future generations enjoy it, because I don't think I will live that long.

by Eddo :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 7:17pm

The White Sox' championship in 2005 was weird, in that although the World Series was a sweep, every game was close (the Sox were only +6 net runs over the four games). But at the same time, as soon as they won game two of the ALCS (the dropped third strike game) to pull even with the Angels at 1-1, I had no doubt in my mind they were going to win the whole thing.

by Marko :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 8:37pm

I had a similar feeling regarding the Blackhawks once they won Game 5 in the first round against Nashville in 2010. The series was tied 2-2, and the Blackhawks were trailing by a goal in the last minute and were shorthanded due to a major penalty against Marian Hossa with a little more than a minute left. The Blackhawks got the puck after an incredibly stupid turnover by Nashville (a blind pass in the offensive zone with a little more than 30 seconds left, when all Nashville had to do was play keepaway with the man advantage and run out the clock), went up ice and pulled the goalie, and got the game-tying goal from Patrick Kane with less than 14 seconds remaining. They then killed the rest of the major penalty in overtime, had the puck in the offansive zone, and had a shot deflected off a defender right onto the stick of Hossa, who had just left the penalty box seconds before and was all alone at the side of the net, which was wide open. Hossa scored easily, and I distinctly remember telling several people that after that incredible comeback, I was sure they were going to win the Cup.

by Mash Wilson :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 11:22am

Denver was going to get its ass kicked no matter what, as you couldn't design a football team built specifically to crush the 2013 Denver Broncos any better than the 2013 Seattle Seahawks, but from my distant perspective of watching on TV it sure looked a lot like everyone on the Broncos except Peyton Manning quit before halftime.

Manning has a right to feel insulted by the suggestion, but his team most certainly should feel embarrassed by that performance. And they're probably never going to get back, either as a team or as most of the individual players on it (reaching the Super Bowl is hard.)

by GoDog :: Sun, 02/09/2014 - 4:53am

Not to mention that Denver (and the rest of the AFC West) get to play all the NFC West teams next season. Is a 13-3 record realistic when four of your games are against strong teams with nasty defenses?

by Will Allen :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 11:30am

Paradoxically, may we be in a rules environment where offensive success is much easier to achieve, but it also results in offensive quality getting overrated? All year, I've felt the Broncos offense was overrated, entirely dependent on one of the smartest qbs ever making fast decisions in finding wide open receivers that a spread out defense could not match up with, and running when the defense gets too spread. In other words, lining up and knocking people on their *ss is not frequently part of a good offense's repertoire any longer, which means when they face a very physical defense, disappointment looms.

by Mike B. In Va :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 11:57am

My suspicion is that if this game had occurred in the regular season, the results would have been different. Without benefit of the All-22, there were four illegal contact or pass interference non-calls that would most likely have called in the regular season.

That was not the only reason they won, obviously. Seattle has a good team with a great defense, and would most likely have won the game even under regular season officiating.

The refs swallowed the whistles for the whole playoffs, and kudos to Seattle for building a team to take advantage of it, much like Baltimore did the year before. The AFC is going to need to wise up in this department, or it's going to be 1984-95 all over again.

by jacobk :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 12:39pm

I suspect the whining about the refs would have been the same had this been a regular season matchup. Some people don't want to accept that the rules allow the defense to make plays.

If you want to go through the instant replay nitpicking judgment non-calls, don't forget to do the same with Broncos committing offensive holding and OPI.

by MilkmanDanimal :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 1:16pm

How different do you think the results would have been? Only 28 points, maybe?

This wasn't a game where ticky-tack calls would have determined it. This was clearly one team being far better than the other team. A few DPI or holding calls wouldn't have changed the fact Denver's offensive line couldn't stop any pass rush or erase multiple Broncos mistakes.

The have obviously been lots of egregiously wrong calls in the NFL this year, and there weren't really any of them last night (there was a play where Earl Thomas could have been called for illegal contact, but I thought what he wound up doing was simply going to a spot and letting the WR run into him entirely instead of initiating the contact itself so it was pretty clean). It's not like Jeff Triplette was out there "calling" the game.

by justanothersteve :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 1:24pm

One nitpick here. The play where Earl Thomas could have been called for illegal contact is the type of play that frequently is a penalty for either that or pass interference. It shouldn't be. But that is one of the calls an offense typically gets during the regular season.

by MilkmanDanimal :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 1:33pm

Yes, and I wouldn't have been at all shocked if it had been called, but it certainly wasn't a case of flagrant illegal contact the refs skipped. The WR ran into the DB instead of the DB slamming into the WR; it's the kind of thing that is often called, but not always called.

To me, the singly biggest missed call was when Thomas dragged Richard Sherman down deep down the right sideline in the 2nd half. Sherman had position and a shot to maybe get to the ball for a pick and Thomas just tackled him before the ball got there. This felt like a very cleanly-called game where Seattle wasn't getting away with all sorts of things. Heck, it felt like they didn't have time to grab the WRs, as the defensive line basically camped in the backfield and Manning had to get the ball away so quick anyways.

by tuluse :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 1:37pm

It looked a lot less like PI in slow motion and more like incidental contact. When I saw it the first time in real time I thought it was clear OPI, but the replays looked more like a 50/50 call.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 1:42pm

Incidental contact is more in play when the db is actually trying to get to the ball. Earl Thomas was actually running away from it, but again, I'd say that non-call was more on the receiver than anything.

by tuluse :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 2:10pm

I was talking about the play where Manning went deep down the right sideline and it looked like the receiver mugged Richard Sherman.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 2:23pm

Sorry. My confusion.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 1:25pm

That was a horrible play by the Broncos receiver, at the end of the half, when their was still a glimmer of hope for a meaningful second half. If you don't look like you are making an effort to get to the ball, you often aren't going to get the call. If Thomas had given it up, and effectuated a full speed collision with Earl Thomas, it is more than likely the flag would have come out, I think.

by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 11:32am

I'm happy for Seahawks fans, and happy for Cliff Avril (one of the scant few of Matt Millen's good draft picks). Is he the only player in NFL modern hisotry to have played for both a winless team and a championship team?

by Insancipitory :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 12:43pm

Steve Young was on some truly brutal Buccaneers teams. They might not have gone winless over a season, but pretty sure they were worse than the 0-16 Lions.

by Travis :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 12:57pm

Larry Ball, Pat Toomay, Terry Hanratty, and Howard Fest won Super Bowls before joining the 1976 Bucs. I imagine there are others.

by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 1:31pm

Ah, I was wondering about players from the '76 Bucs going on to play for other teams. I hadn't thought about it in reverse (which has to be brutal to experience). But in the era before free agency, I guess the Buccaneers would have held on to the few players they thought were competent.

by MilkmanDanimal :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 1:36pm

The Hugh Culverhouse-era Bucs would have held onto whichever players were cheapest. That era represents one of the singly-worst spans of ownership in the history of any professional sports league. "Good" didn't matter, it was all about Culverhouse making some money on the deal.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 1:38pm

That's what Red McCombs did after 2001 with the Vikings. It got to the point were Mike Tice wasn't allowed to hire a full staff, and the air conditioning didn't work in the practice facility, with an owner worth well north of a billion.

by Travis :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 1:59pm

1976 Bucs who later won the Super Bowl:
Curtis Jordan (1982 Redskins)
Manfred Moore (1976 Raiders - cut by the Bucs after Week 13)
Dave Pear (1980 Raiders)

1982 Colts (0-8-1) who later won the Super Bowl:
Johnie Cooks (1990 Giants)
Ray Donaldson (1995 Cowboys - on injured reserve and missed playoffs)
David Humm (1983 Raiders)

by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 3:06pm

Wow, thanks for researching that. My curiosity is sated.

by Duff Soviet Union :: Tue, 02/04/2014 - 7:20am

Someone got cut by an 0-13 team and then played for a Super Bowl winner that same season? Weird.

by Andrew Potter :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 2:11pm

Entertainingly (to me, at least), the Broncos also had players from the '08 Lions on the roster -- Manny Ramirez and Paris Lenon. Either way, somebody from the winless Lions was winning a ring last night.

by commissionerleaf :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 3:46pm

Oddly enough, Ramirez managed to bring some of that '08 Lions feel to this game. On the first play no less.

by LionInAZ :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 6:01pm

Manny Ramirez stunk up the place as a Lion. It never felt right that he should have been a starter for a Super Bowl team. I feel a bit better for it now -- no disrespect to the Broncos.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 11:52am

I want to comment again on just how hideous the coverage was on Harvin's return. Yes, Harvin is a great returner, and extremely fast, but FOX should have cued up "Yackety Sax" and played the replay in fast motion, with the way that kick was covered.

by Mike B. In Va :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 12:07pm

To be fair, Harvin made the comment that it was a return they hadn't run all year and that they thought would succeed against the Broncos' coverage. Still, the coverage was terrible.

Why do coaches like Fox not seem to take special teams seriously?

by young curmudgeon :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 12:23pm

Often, when something fluky happens at the start of the return (e.g., short kick hits the ground and bounces high) it seems to somehow throw the coverage team's timing off and a long return results. I've seen this a number of times when the receiver bobbles or drops the ball, then gains control/picks it up and seems to miraculously have an open lane in front of him. I have no idea why this happens, and one also sees a bounce/bobble/fumble resulting in an avalanche of defenders burying the receiver where he stands, but as soon as I saw that short kick bounce and the first guy miss Harvin, I thought, "there he goes."

Or maybe it was just inept coverage.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 12:29pm

There wasn't any lane discipline at all; it was as if as soon as he ball hit the ground, guys in the orange jerseys said "Oh, this means we get to run in any direction we desire! Yippee!".

by young curmudgeon :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 12:57pm

It occurs to me that your point might be exactly what I was driving at--an odd occurrence at the beginning of the play surprisingly often seems to completely disrupt lane discipline. Perhaps the coverage team gets the notion that they should converge on the ball because they might be able to recover it, or that the returner is particularly vulnerable at that precise moment? Whatever the cause (conscious or even subconscious), it seems to be hard to maintain lane discipline in such a circumstance, with results that are frequently exhilarating to the receiving team.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 1:12pm

That gets to your point about some coaches; they just don't get their squad to focus on special teams play adequately. It's kind of a disparity that I thought would have disappeared by now. In the Bud Grant era, which started 47 years ago, the Vikings consistently won three or four games a year, some of them playoff games, by focusing on special teams more than their competition. The Walsh/Seifert-era Niners, however, had huge success despite not being very good on special teams, if I remember right. It just seems that there are some easy points that some coaches are still leaving on the practice field.

by The Ancient Mariner :: Tue, 02/04/2014 - 10:56am

And Pete Carroll is a Bud Grant disciple before all else.

by EricL :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 3:40pm

Perhaps the coverage team gets the notion that they should converge on the ball because they might be able to recover it, or that the returner is particularly vulnerable at that precise moment?

Some post-game interview or other that I heard last night spoke to exactly that. When the ball hits the ground on the kickoff, coverage teams tend to converge to the ball. The better returners know this.

by Gladiator of th... :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 1:50pm

It looked to me like the first arriving group of Broncos players overpursued to Harvin's left side. I think they simply were expecting the ball to take a sharper, faster bounce in that direction.

That's the beauty of the obloid - that durn rascal's gonna go every whichaway!

by tuluse :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 12:28pm

The only good part of this game was a non-QB winning MVP.

by PatsFan :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 12:29pm

Well, that and Denver being crushed.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 12:45pm

I liked Joe Namath, dressed as either Scott of The Antarctic, or a Time Square pimp, circa 1975, blowing the coin toss.

by RickD :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 12:52pm

Between Namath and Pam Oliver dressed like she walked in off the set of "Foxy Brown", I was humming groovy '70s music much of the night. Also: guys on the sideline wearing silvery jackets looking like they were filming a fake moon landing!

by young curmudgeon :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 1:01pm

Not to mention the use of "You Sexy Thing" and "Nobody but Me" in commercials (latter song from the sixties, but it would have gotten played as an 'oldie' in the 70's)

by nat :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 1:07pm

All in fairness, Wilson did play a fine game, collecting a passer rating of 123.1 on 25 attempts, leading his offense to 27 points on just seven meaningful drives. It's unusual for a QB to play that well while winning the Super Bowl and not win the MVP, and common for QBs playing less well to get the award.

Still, it was nice for a non-QB to get the award. A defense that can flummox the purported GOAT that much deserves credit.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 1:21pm

Wilson is just so smart in how he employs his mobility. Very reminiscent of Tarkenton, and if gets to Tarkenton's level in terms of speed of recognition, paired with good franchise management, look out. His arm is significantly better than Tarkenton's ever was, even adjusted to the general rise in athletic performance in the last 50 years.

by tuluse :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 1:39pm

I've only seen highlights of Tarkenton, but Wilson seems considerably less accurate, or less consistently accurate. His early pass attempt when he just air-mailed over the receiver in the flat seems like something that just wouldn't have happened to Tarkenton.

Really a minor quibble, since he's generally on target.

by jacobk :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 1:47pm

I suspect part of that is that highlight reels don't often include the flubbed throws.

by Sakic :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 3:44pm

I would agree with that. From what I've heard about Tarkenton is that he was actually a better passer while on the run therefore most of his highlight throws involve him scrambling around. Not saying that he couldn't throw from the pocket but there was definitely a difference when he was set up.

by joebarnin :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 12:46pm

Wow, that drive by Denver that ended with Smith's pick-six...talk about ugly:

* Start the drive down by 15 points
* Take 8:24 off of the clock
* End the drive down by 22 points.

I know from the point of view of Win Probability, it wasn't a big deal, since the Broncos chance of winning was already so low. But man, that was just the worst thing they could do - drain the clock and end up even further behind.

by Perfundle :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 2:24pm

Denver already knows what that feels like. They had an even bigger gut-punch in the preseason when they marched down the field, had 14 plays and took 7:46 off of the clock, and had a fumble at the half-yard line which Seattle returned for a touchdown. See also the blocked field goal last year against San Francisco. It's Seattle's bend-but-break-the-opponent's-spirit defense.

by Sixknots :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 1:02pm

OK, help me here guys. As a Seattle fan, I went into this game terrified that Manning would go all no-huddle and keep the Seattle D-line rotation and pass rush from being a factor. Didn't happen. Why?

I was also alergic to Pot Roast. But, no problem.??

by Will Allen :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 1:31pm

Knighton was one of the few Broncos who had a good game. The Broncos had the ball for what, 6 plays, in the first quarter?

by Sixknots :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 2:54pm

But why didn't they go heavy no-huddle for the whole game? Or did they and I just missed it?

by Perfundle :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 3:14pm

This might be wishful thinking, but I wonder if it has anything to do with all the hard hits Seattle's defense gives out. Could it be that they need a few seconds to recuperate? It seems that teams have had some success on two-minute drives against Seattle this year (such as San Francisco in the NFC championship game), and two-minute drives consist of throws toward the sidelines and the receivers going out of bounds to stop the clock, and coincidentally also stop them from getting hit.

by intel_chris :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 3:33pm

I think another factor might be that the Seahawks were playing defense as fast or faster than the Broncos offense was playing. I heard a comment to that effect. One of the points with the no huddle is to wear out the defense. However, if the defense is more physically fit, then no huddle might wear out the offense instead. I think that might me a factor with the game being played close to sea level. While players accustomed to high altitude do better there, I think some sluggishness sets in when returning to sea-level. I vaguely remember that when I moved from Denver to Boston. Just my speculation.....

by Sixknots :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 6:44pm

Of course! If the offense substitutes, the defense must have the opportunity to do so as well. I forgot about that.

by LionInAZ :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 6:55pm

Running out of bounds, thus stopping the clock, negates the advantage of the no-huddle, so the two-minute drill is not a great analogy.

by tuluse :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 7:03pm

I'm not following your argument here.

If the offense runs a no huddle, regardless of going out of bounds, they still have the following advantages: the defense can't substitute, the offense gets a longer look at the pre-snap defense, the offense can keep the defense in a tense "waiting for the snap" condition.

by LionInAZ :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 7:20pm

Really, the D can't substitute players when the clock is stopped? Does that include stoppages for incomplete passes, too? I may have been fooled because I see offenses routinely huddle after clock stoppages.

by Kurt :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 7:34pm

Huh. My understanding was that the defense can substitute whenever they want - it's just impractical during the no-huddle because of the likelihood of a 12 men on the field penalty. I've never heard that they need the offense's "permission" to substitute.

by PatsFan :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 9:37pm

You are correct. The defense is free to substitute. It's just that if they do, and if there are 12 men on the field at any point, the offense can snap and get the penalty on the defense. Or snap the ball when the defense isn't ready because they are substituting.

By contrast, if the offense substitutes the officials won't let the ball be snapped until the defense has a chance to substitute.

by tuluse :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 9:49pm

Yes, I should have been clearer. The defense is allowed to substitute at any time, but the offense is allowed to snap the ball at any time, unless they have substituted. Then they have to give the defense the opportunity to do so as well.

by LionInAZ :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 10:18pm

Which was kind of my point -- that teams can substitute players during official clock stoppages.

by tuluse :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 10:41pm

I'm pretty sure it's not an official clock stoppage. The playclock doesn't stop if a player goes out of bounds.

I believe the offense can snap the ball at anytime unless a timeout is taken or they substitute.

by LionInAZ :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 11:08pm

But isn't it true that the playclock doesn't start without a signal from the officials?

by tuluse :: Tue, 02/04/2014 - 12:59am

I'm not sure, but they don't treat oob plays and in bounds differently, of that I am more certain of.

Actually, I just remembered, going oob doens't stop the game clock anymore except in the last 5 min of the half. So outside of those times there is absolutely no difference.

by Jerry :: Tue, 02/04/2014 - 5:42am

On out of bounds plays before the last 2 minutes of the first half or 5 minutes of the second half, the game clock stops until the ball is set, while the play clock continues to run.

by LionInAZ :: Tue, 02/04/2014 - 9:41pm

Going out of bounds does stop the game clock. The clock starts again when one official places the ball at the inbounds spot and the referee signals for the game clock to restart, except in the final 2 minutes of the first half or final 5 minutes of the second half, when the game clock starts on the snap. (I just checked the rulebook.) What's confusing is how all this affects the play clock and what the offense can do. The offense clearly can't snap the ball before the officials say the ball is ready.

by tuluse :: Tue, 02/04/2014 - 10:40pm

Nice job with the research guys.

As to your last sentence, that is undoubtidly true, but that applies whether the ball carrier went oob or not.

by LionInAZ :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 7:02pm

From what I saw, they did try to go no-huddle (they had no real alternative after they were down three TDs), but they could only go for one or two first downs before something bad happened (a tipped pass for INT, a WR getting stripped of the ball). The Seattle DBs and LBs were very fast to limit YAC on passes as well. The no-huddle depends on the offense getting big chunks of yardage on multiple drives. The Broncos just could not get it done against the Seahawk D, except for the one TD drive.

by dmstorm22 :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 1:59pm

All of the props to the Seahawks. Just an incredible performance in every way. They gave Manning no time, gave the receivers no room, and took advantage of every single mistake Denver made when they weren't forcing Denver into mistakes.

For the last few years people were clamoring on how we haven't had a dominant Super Bowl winner... well now we do. A lot of how they're remembered historically will be how they play the next few years. Other than the 1985 Bears, isolated Super Bowl Champions are rarely remembered among the greatest teams of all time, but this team has a claim. Yes, they came close to losing in the NFC Championship Game, but they were wire-to-wire the best team in a competitive NFC, and then played one of the best offenses of all time and shut them down more than even hyper-biased Seahawks fans would ahve imagined.

If they end up a one-year wonder, they're basically hte 2002 Bucs, a criminally underrated team whose offense was better than people remembered (Brad Johnson led the NFC in passer rating) and their defense is probably underrated as well (they held opposing QBs to a 48.4 passer rating!). They were dominant in all three playoff games. And then they were never really heard from again. BEcause of youth, there's a low, low chance the same future awaits the Seahawks. This could be the start of something special, but a lot depends on how many guys they can keep once contracts start coming up.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 2:21pm

When you are one slightly better very late 4th quarter pass away from losing the conference championship game on your home field, your playoff performance just doesn't rank with the '91 Redskins, '89 Niners, '86 Giants, '85 Bears, or '84 Niners, to take it back through the modern passing era. I'd say the '96 Packers were better, and the '92 Cowboys. Now, since the salary cap has taken full effect, I'd say the Seahawks are the best team since the '02 Bucs, and while I'd favor the Bucs, absent Harvin getting some huge returns, I'd say it is close, so don't take this as harsh criticism of Seattle. They are terrific. We just tend to focus too much on the last game of the tourney, and the Broncos just don't match up. I'd bet Carolina would pay the Seahawks significantly tougher than the Broncos.

by Perfundle :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 2:28pm

Given his influence in every game he's played this year, Harvin probably would've pushed them into the elite level for playoff performances; Seattle's offense fell to pieces when he left the Saints' game.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 2:38pm

Yeah, if Seattle had benefit of a healthy Harvin for three playoff games, their performance for historical purposes might look far different. We can only go by what was done on the field, of course.

Than again, Harvin kind of screwed the proverbial pooch in the 2009 NFCCG, so who knows?

by Blykmyk44 :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 3:24pm

That seems like a strange argument. The 91 Redskins were an awesome team. They also had the benefit/luck of getting to play terrible teams in the NFC playoffs. I'm sure if Seattle didn't play SF, but played teams the caliber of DET and ATL...the score would be different. Of course, it is a pure hypothetical that there was a "better place" Kaepernick could've placed the ball. Everyone claims if he had thron it a yard further, which doesn't make sense since Sherman had to stop and make a miraculous play on an under thrown ball. Kaepernick throws it a yard further it is probably an easy INT for Sherman.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 3:58pm

What is strange about noting that it is more impressive to dispatch three straight playoff opponents by halftime, that to not do so?

Kaepernick has said, and the film indicates, that he threw the ball to the wrong shoulder. It wasn't a bad miss, but it wasn't perfectly thrown, either.

by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 5:06pm

"What is strange about noting that it is more impressive to dispatch three straight playoff opponents by halftime, that to not do so?"

Hate to be today's picker of nits, but that's not strictly true. The '91 Redskins led the Falcons and Lions at halftime, 14-7 and 17-10 respectively. More accurately, they let their opponents hang around a bit, and then effortlessly smothered them in the second half.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 5:14pm

Yeah, I'd forgotten that. They ween't quite like some of the great champions of the previous decade in that regard. I think the Giants may have been within a td in the divisional game against the '85 Bears. That Giants team was about as good defensively as you'll ever see in a divisional round loser.

by Marko :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 6:02pm

Correct. The Bears led the Giants at halftime of that game 7-0, courtesy of the shortest punt return TD in NFL history, which can be seen at the beginning of this clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rPHnWMgtWH8. Sean Landeta mis-hit the ball when a gust of wind blew the ball as he dropped it, and Shaun Gayle picked it up and ran it in for a 5 yard punt return TD.

by Kurt :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 5:18pm

And the '86 Giants were losing at halftime of the Super Bowl, I think 10-9. Though their other two games were over *early*.

by smade :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 2:22pm

A HUMP! shout-out in Football Outsiders. Every day a new wonder.

by intel_chris :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 2:44pm

While as a lifelong Broncos fan, I'm generally depressed at the result and definitely don't think Denver played up to its expected level. I think the Seahawks certainly well deserved the win and didn't win by luck or officiating or by anything other than out playing their opponent by a surprising margin. It was particularly impressive how they kept playing hard and not going into some sort of stupid prevent shell well after the game was out of reach.

To my mind the most important thing Seattle did was winning the takeaway battle. Those interceptions, strips, etc. were far more impactful on the game to my mind than anything else. Yes, Seattle limited YAC quite successfully, but the Broncos did manage to mount some drives and get some plays only to have them end with turning the ball over. To me, the takeaways more than anything is what prevented Manning from mounting a comeback. And, to my mind that is all to the credit of Seattle's defense, more than Denver "blowing" it, although I think there was some of that.

To that, the credit definitely has to go to the Seahawks, as they definitely played up to their potential and did so for the whole 60 minutes. Moreover, it also isn't like they played beyond their potential and the victory was a fluke. The way Seattle played made it clear that even had things gone a bit differently, they had the capacity to stay in the game and win it. As far as I can tell, Seattle lived up to their historically great DVOA ranking.

by DEW :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 3:38pm

Very thorough beatdown. One thing I liked was that (with the exception of Tony McDaniel's "they just quit in the second half" comments...which were probably accurate so far as the Denver defense was concerned, anyway) the Seahawks were almost to a man gracious in victory. Richard Sherman, for example, rather than post-win trash talk which, if he had done, one can at least say he and the rest of the Hawks had damn well earned, was praising Manning and calling out the "legacy" and "big-game choker" idiots. Their performance off the field was as good as their performance on the field, and that's saying a lot.

(That also serves as quite a reminder of how heated the SF/Seattle rivalry has become over the past few years. Lotta hate going on there.)

The game actually reminded me a lot of the SB between the 49ers and the '84 Dolphins in that an excellent AFC team led by a QB who had a legendarily great passing season came into the SB and got the doors blown off it by an even better and better-rounded NFC team.

by Rick_and_Roll :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 3:56pm

I was at the game and like most everyone (esp Bronco fans) was completely disappointed. My on-site observations...

1. Denver seemed very uptight to start game. Manning probably threw 100 warm up passes between two warm up sessions. Wilson at the most threw half of that. Carol was joking around with the team, while the Broncos coaches looked like they were hanging out with their in-laws.

2. Not prepared for the noise??? Ramirez said crowd noise caused the initial fumble. Anyone that was in NYC observed that Seattle fans significantly outnumbered Denver's and to not be prepared was inexcusable.

3. It seemed like Seattle cracked the code to Peyton's audibles. Not only was SEA more physical, but Watching the game live, there was a TB-OAK vibe. Maybe they figured it out on their own, or got help from another team/coach (Bellichick?), but they definitely were prepared as he audibled. Denver never adjusted.

4. How can Denver not be pre-pared for the jet sweep and boot-leg plays? They definitely saw something when Ayers was at RDE because they totally exploited it.

In hindsight, it's crazy that Denver was favored in this game, not only because Seattle was better and more balanced, but Denver had so many injuries to key players. The negative effects due to the absence of Miller and esp Clady really showed in this game, although it probably wouldn't have the results.

Next year Denver will be better. Consider what the buzz would be if you heard that Denver had signed: a top 3 LT, a top 5 overall defensive player, & a top 5 slot corner... Without signing a FA, Denver will get all of these next year with Clady, Miller and Harris. Hopefully Denver can stay healthy and composed enough to play Seattle in the SB next year. A Seattle fan joked to me, "if we didn'tbeat Denver w/o Clady, Miller and Harris then we weren't going to win it with this team." Seattle has a window (that begins to close when they have to pay Wilson) where they can be a mini-dynasty.

Most of the Seattle fans were pretty cool, considering Denver received such an ass kicking, so props to them.

by Perfundle :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 7:10pm

"3. It seemed like Seattle cracked the code to Peyton's audibles. Not only was SEA more physical, but Watching the game live, there was a TB-OAK vibe. Maybe they figured it out on their own, or got help from another team/coach (Bellichick?), but they definitely were prepared as he audibled. Denver never adjusted."

Perhaps not the audibles, but the alignments. Seahawks defenders mentioned before the game that there were little tells that betrayed what the offense plans to do on each play.

Edit: it seems you're right as well. Sherman had this to say after the game:

"We knew what route concepts they liked on different downs, so we jumped all the routes. Then we figured out the hand signals for a few of the route audibles in the first half."

I think scouts should include tests on eidetic memory in the drafting process, because that's arguably Sherman's biggest gift.

by GoDog :: Sun, 02/09/2014 - 5:48am

"In hindsight, it's crazy that Denver was favored in this game, not only because Seattle was better and more balanced, but Denver had so many injuries to key players."

The absence of Miller and Clady didn't seem to alter Manning's record season or the exuberance by Bronco's fans everywhere in believing this was going to be a sound win, so I don't get why the injuries to these players all of a sudden matter. Considering the confidence displayed by any Bronco fan, because there were no significant weather issues, the refs were equitable in administrating fouls, and this was played on a neutral (or at least, an intended neutral field), this loss must represent one of two possibilities:

1) Seattle coaching, preparation, and general scheme totally neutralized the Denver offense in conjunction with poor coaching, preparation, and scheming by the Bronco staff, or

2) The result was a total outlier and Denver would have a more or less even chance of winning if the championship were to be played again.

It seems like items 1, 2, and 3 in your comments would be part of possibility 1. However, I've read more and more Bronco fan comments (not so much on this site) that suggest possibility #2. Outliers, by their very definition, are possible a very small percentage of the time. While we can't always simply discount their presence, it doesn't mean we have to believe it happened just because the score didn't reflect what we "know" about our teams. Another words, you might as well believe the Easter Bunny is showing up soon.

My general belief is that Denver has a better core team than the one that showed up at MetLife Stadium, but they were ill-prepared to handle the noise, intensity of the Seahawks, and lacked pivotal adjustments that would have kept them in the game (at least until the 4th quarter). But, given the same circumstances, I would think the Seahawks would have beaten the Broncos seven out of ten times with the losses being close.

Seattle will lose some players to free agency. The good news is that they are very deep and can afford to lose a few. The other good news is that when they are picked up by other teams, some of which may be inter-divisional rivals, those teams will probably overpay and affect their ability to gain new talent. Also, they can't all go to one team without blowing the top off the cap limit, so it's not like the rivals can monopolize all of the available Seahawk talent.

by LionInAZ :: Sun, 02/09/2014 - 6:15pm

The Broncos played a weaker schedule during the regular season. Losing a key player or two in that situation isn't necessarily fatal (unless it's Peyton Manning).

But if you think that not having the team's best DL and best OL players for the Super Bowl didn't matter, I don't know what planet you're from. Maybe Seattle would have won anyway, but it would probably have been a lot closer.

by Steve B :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 4:29pm

Don't know if it's already been mentioned, but does anyone else find this game reminiscent of SB XVIII?

by justanothersteve :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 4:43pm

A quick search of the page for XVIII found this from Travis:

Super Bowls XVI (Raiders 38, Redskins 9) and XVIII (49ers 38, Dolphins 16), both shutdowns of the best offenses in the league, will probably rank pretty high on the defensive DVOA list.

by Steve B :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 4:59pm

Yeah, SB XIX is also a pretty good comparison, although Marino and co. did keep that one at least semi-competive (they actually had the lead after the first quarter) for a little while. I think SB XVIII is the better comparison, even though that Raiders team was noticeably older overall than this Seahawks team. Another difference would be that the Redskins were defending champs and there's was some "dynasty" talk around them going in. The Redskins had record-breaking offense. The Raiders, especially after the trade for Haynes, had a great, perhaps even a little better underrated defense. The two teams had played a wild, high scoring game in D.C. during the regular season with the Redskins erasing a 15-point deficit in the 4th quarter to come out on top. It might be worth noting that Marcus Allen didn't play in that game. So, like last night, the shock for many wasn't the Raiders winning (Dr. Z, for one, picked the Raiders to win by three), it was how thoroughly they dominated the game.

by Travis :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 5:47pm

That should have been "Super Bowls XVIII (Raiders 38, Redskins 9) and XIX (49ers 38, Dolphins 16)". Stupid Roman numerals.

by Rick_and_Roll :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 5:54pm

This game closest to the TB-OAK (SuperBowl 37). In both a prolific offense was shut down by superior coaching and much more physical play in what is a generally unwatchable game.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 6:03pm

The Pete Carroll aspect of this is intersting, in that we have two narratives, with one vanquishing the other. The Pete Carroll is a mediocre coach narrative is now officially finished, and replaced by the Pete Carroll became a much better coach narrative. What is interesting to me is that I think it not terribly unlikely that Caroll hasn't changed all that much: he's always been pretty good, and now has terrific players for the first time in the NFL.

by LionInAZ :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 7:04pm

But of course that doesn't mean you have to like him, Will.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 7:28pm

I'm incapable of liking a guy who made several million dollars getting over on 18-23 year olds who aren't afforded the protection of antitrust laws. Having said that, I think it's petty likely that Carroll is pretty much the same guy he's always been.

by LionInAZ :: Tue, 02/04/2014 - 12:02am

I empathize with your sentiments, but I wonder if you could identify a Div I coach over the past 30 years who wasn't like that. Was Carroll worse than Petrino? Kiffen? Saban? Tressel? Rich Rodriguez? Spurrier? Lou Holtz? I laugh.

The system was already corrupt long before Carroll came along, I have to wonder if Carroll ended up corrupted by the pressures of the disgraceful college football system. He didn't seem like a sleazeball for a long time. If you want to talk about college football sleaze, look at what Arizona did to Dick Tomey and what a string of losers they ended up with as a result.

by Will Allen :: Tue, 02/04/2014 - 12:21am

I've come to dislike all of 'em.

by Duff Soviet Union :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 8:10pm

I think it's undeniable that he got a terrible deal in New York. Looking at that team, 6-10 actually looks like a real accomplishment to me. It's no surprise they won 4 games in two years after firing him, there was just nothing there.

His time with the Patriots is more complicated. It's true that they steadily declined during his time there and improved after he left, but he was sandwiched between two Hall of Famers and he had no say in the personnel recruiting which was absolutely horrible in that period.

by RickD :: Tue, 02/04/2014 - 3:24am

" I think it not terribly unlikely that Caroll hasn't changed all that much"

Is that you, Dierdorf? Eight points for a triple negative.

So you think it's likely that he hasn't changed much?

Trust a Pats' fan. He's changed. In New England, he inherited the AFC champions and they got worse every season. One more loss per season, starting with Parcells' 11-5 team and ending at 8-8. He showed no ability to make the team better, never reined in Drew Bledsoe's gunslinger instinct, and didn't really develop any new players.

I'm guessing he learned how to tighten the ship a bit while at USC. Maybe he found better people to work with. I just remember his perenially baffled expression in New England. Perhaps it was all Bledsoe's fault?

by Duff Soviet Union :: Tue, 02/04/2014 - 7:29am

As I said earlier, how much of Carroll's inability to develop new players was due to the Patriot's drafting in that period? It was horrible, and it's not like any of those guys became stars elsewhere.

Also, I think he took over at precisely the wrong time perception wise. The 1996 Superbowl run was a bit of a fluke. THey didn't win another playoff game in the Parcells era and they got very lucky that Jacksonville did their dirty work for them and knocked out the Broncos. I think that run created unrealistic expectations.

He definitely wasn't perfect though. He had his problems with Bledsoe as you mentioned and Parcells definitely got more out of Terry Glenn (both in New England and Dallas) than Carroll did.

But still, he wasn't the disaster he was perceived as.

by Will Allen :: Tue, 02/04/2014 - 8:24am

It could be that Wilson is just a lot more intelligent with regard to football than Bledsoe. It could be that the Patriots personnel department didn't perform all that well when he was there. It could be that there is a lot of randomness in football performance over a three year period, and that a declining w-l record doesn't tell us that much about coaching. It could be that it is extraordinarily rare that we get a career like Parcells', and thus have enough data to begin to evaluate coaching quality from the other factors and noise surrounding it.

Is it very possible that Carroll is a markedly better coach now than 16 years ago? Sure. Do we have the means to know that with a very high degree of confidence? I'm not too sure about that.

by The Ancient Mariner :: Tue, 02/04/2014 - 11:12am

He has said something to the effect that in New England, he learned how hard it is to change an entrenched organizational culture. He was brought in (by his own account, anyway) to do that, but the culture resisted change (as relational systems always do) and he was given neither the control nor the backing to overcome that.

At USC, he took over a program that was receptive to such change and he had the full control he needed to make it happen, so everything fell into place.

When he came to Seattle, he came to an organization that desperately needed its existing culture and mindset completely replaced -- any longtime Seattle fan remembers the refrain "Same old Seahawks." Even during the height of the Holmgren years, we still had that. The difference between here and NE is that Carroll had both the control and the backing to do what he needed to do, as well as a right-hand man who was completely on board with it. The result was the legendary roster churn of the first year or two, as Carroll and Schneider just kept flushing and flushing the roster until everyone had either gotten with the program or just gotten dumped. By the time they were done with that, though it wasn't immediately obvious on the outside, the "same old Seahawks" just didn't exist anymore.

by EricL :: Tue, 02/04/2014 - 12:06pm

Thinking about that roster churn, how many organizations that need such a flushing (Cleveland...) are actually in a contract/salary cap/ownership situation where it's even possible?

How Seattle got from 5-11 under Jim Mora (who got Chudzinski'd after losing his last four games by a combined 37-123), to 13-3 and the second-youngest Super Bowl champs ever, in four years, may not be repeatable.

I suppose Jacksonville might be in that spot, and they've got one of Carroll's guys driving it. I don't know how much the GM and owner are on board over there. We'll see how that pans out, I guess.

by Insancipitory :: Tue, 02/04/2014 - 6:25pm

"Possible" is a funny thing. They told Houshmanzadeh to take the 7 million owed him and go kick rocks. It was time to peddle his loafs elsewhere. They made some rough calls.

by dbt :: Wed, 02/05/2014 - 1:31pm

I think the Raiders are in a position to do that, they started the offseason with only 57M of the 2014 cap allocated.

by pablohoney :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 9:33pm

I noticed that Seattle opened the first few drives defensively with their pass rush package (Avril, Bennett, & McDonald instead of Bryant, Mebane, & McDaniel), so that took away some incentive to go hurry up. Denver only made a token attempt to run against that front and abandoned it pretty quickly, which completely played into Seattle's hands.

by MichaelEdits :: Mon, 02/03/2014 - 10:18pm

On Sunday, Peyton Manning saw his own shadow, so there will be 6 more weeks of debate about his legacy.

by PatsFan :: Wed, 02/05/2014 - 12:21pm

On reflection, I think the safety is on Manning, not Ramirez.

Looking at the replay, the entire OL fires out when the ball is snapped. That almost never happens when the center screws up and snaps the ball early.

So it looks like Manning forgot the snap count and Ramirez fell on the sword for him.

by intel_chris :: Fri, 02/07/2014 - 6:00pm

I agree for not blaming Ramirez. However, if Manning went to the line to audible something, then they needed a plan to allow for that, especially since he audibles so often. You might also credit the 12th man for that. That was the closest to home field advantage I've ever seen in the SB.