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Bowled over: Hawks rout Denver

The game turned out to be the most one-sided Super Bowl in years. Just the way the Seahawks expected.
MetLife Stadium in New Jersey, as the Seahawks celebrate

MetLife Stadium in New Jersey, as the Seahawks celebrate Doug Dixon

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Seattle 1, World 0.

For the Northwest sports fan, aggrieved after more than a third of century of mediocrity, team departures and close-but-zippo shots at championships, the drama Sunday unfolded in an unexpected way: Quick, savage and relentless. That never happens in Seattle sports, which for so long have greeted the threat of success with something like, "You go ahead. We'll be fine."

If you're into sports numerology, Seattle scored 12 seconds into the first half, and 12 seconds into the second half. For the long-suffering 12s, the symbolism goes beyond coincidence.

For the Seahawks players, the drama unfolded in a different way: It was exactly as they planned. That happened almost all the time with this team this season.

"To be honest with you, a lot of the players on this team expected this to be a dominant win," said WR Doug Baldwin. "I say that with no disrespect to the Broncos. They probably thought that, too; that's how you get to a championship game.

"But the way we were prepared the last two weeks, there was no doubt in my mind. You saw us dominate defensively, force the pace on the ground, then make plays in passing game."

They knew they would shred the Broncos. It was possible to sense some of it this week around the team. They were so calm, so certain. While the world blinked and stared in amazement at the MetLife Stadium scoreboard that read "Seahawks 43, Broncos 8," the Seahawks walked onto the biggest stage in the media and sports world as if they owned it, down to the last row of klieg lights.

"It was not even a question in their minds," said coach Pete Carroll, "that we wouldn't perform like this."

They set a Super Bowl record for the fastest score. They set a Super Bowl record with 36 consecutive points to start a game (the old mark was 24). They were the second youngest team to play in a Super Bowl. And they brought thousands of believers from around the world, overwhelming the Broncos fans, to screw up the opponent in New Jersey as if it were a suburb of Seattle.

On the first play, Denver center Manny Ramirez (apparently no relation) snapped the ball past quarterback Peyton Manning into the end zone for a safety. It seemed as if the Seahawks defense lined up and said, "Boo!"

"It was real loud — none of us heard the snap count," a bewildered Ramirez said. "I thought I did, and when I snapped the ball, I guess Peyton was actually trying to walk up to me at the time. It kind of put us on a back end right off the bat."

It kind of did. After 2-0, it was 5-0, then 8-0 and 15-0 before the Broncos finally got a first down five minutes into the second quarter. And this was the most prolific single-season offense in the history of the NFL.

Turned out they were fakes. Frauds. Manning couldn't throw a lick downfield and his receivers couldn't take a lick.

On the Broncos' second series, heralded receiver Demaryius Thomas caught a short crossing pass over the middle only to be clobbered back four yards by the chief boomer in the Legion of Boom, Kam Chancellor.

"We saw on film that they did most of their damage on yards after catch," Chancellor said. "We knew they were going to catch the ball, and we wanted them to know right away they had to deal with us."

The Broncos also had to deal with Percy Harvin right away. On the second scrimmage play, the Seahawks ran a fly sweep play for Harvin that went for 30 yards after the blockers cleared most of New Jersey from his path. They had used the play only one other time this season, but like the Chancellor hit, they went with it early and hard to shock the Broncos into submission.


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Comments:

Posted Mon, Feb 3, 12:10 p.m. Inappropriate

Kudos to Broadway Joe Namath, the fur coat, and the botched, early coin toss that mandated a mulligan. Sort of similar to the botched Inauguration Day Oath of January, 20, 2009 with Chief Justice Roberts and President Obama. Seahawks win coin toss, defer, kick off; Denver foolishly tries a return from 8-9 yards deep and then melts into a safety. 2-0 Hawks. Denver's division foe Kansas City Chiefs fans become the "13th Man" and the rout begins. Congrats to Seattle!

animalal

Posted Mon, Feb 3, 1:24 p.m. Inappropriate

What about the Seattle Storm victory in 2010? That was exciting too.

Posted Mon, Feb 3, 2 p.m. Inappropriate

Um, what about it?

Mannix

Posted Tue, Feb 4, 10:17 a.m. Inappropriate

The Seahawks victory isn't that surprising. They are an excellent team on both sides of the ball. The blowout was a result of how the Seahawks' particular strengths aligned perfectly with the Broncos' particular vulnerabilities.

The Broncos offense is built on short passes to big receivers who then gain a lot of yards after the catch. Too bad. The Seahawks have big, sure-tackling defensive backs who bump at the line and play tight man-to-man coverage. The Broncos completed passes on quick slants and crossing routes for 2 to 6 yards, but the receivers were tackled immediately for short gains.

Rather than any kind of real pass blocking, the Broncos rely on shotgun formation and quick passes to receivers running short routes. Defensive linemen just can't reach Manning before he unloads. Too bad. The Seahawks defensive linemen are unusually fast and got to the quarterback in time to pressure him and tip passes.

The Broncos tried to thwart that pass rush with screen passes, but, again, the close man-to-man coverage held up the receivers, and the defensive linemen's speed allowed them to catch up and tackle them from behind.

Peyton Manning is uniquely gifted at reading defenses and coverages and exploiting their weaknesses. Too bad. That ability is worthless against the Seahawks who play straight up nearly every play. There's nothing to read - it's going to be man-to-man.

The Seahawks and the Broncos met in the pre-season and the outcome was about the same - 40-10. After that game, John Elway came down to the lockeroom and scolded the Broncos for being "soft". The Broncos are something of a finesse team; they are soft. Too bad. The Seahawks are one of the hardest hitting, most physically aggressive teams in the league.

The Seahawks defense is good against any kind of team, but it is devastating against the Broncos type of offense. The Seahawks strengths align perfectly with the Broncos vulnerabilities. It's almost as if the Seahawks and the Legion of Boom were specifically designed to beat the Broncos.

coolpapa

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