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Super Seahawks dominate Denver in a disappointing Super Bowl

Photo: Heinz Kluetmeier/SI

Percy Harvin's kickoff return for a TD was just one of many key plays for Seattle in its rout of Denver.

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The Seattle Seahawks didn't merely win the Super Bowl. They ruined it. They made Peyton Manning look like a mediocre quarterback, and the Broncos look like a 6-10 team, and America look like a nation of fools for thinking this would actually be, you know, a football game.

And they know it.

"At a certain point in the game, [the Broncos] were kind of like, 'We don't have the answers,'" Seahawks linebacker Malcolm Smith said.

The answers? I don't even think the Broncos understood the questions. The Broncos played so poorly I wanted Richard Sherman to yell at them. I wanted to yell at them. I would have let my kids yell at them.

But you know what? Denver isn't that bad. Seattle made Denver look that bad. And one simple reason is that the Seahawks defensive scheme keeps the game simple. Coach Pete Carroll gathered his players in the center of the postgame locker room and everybody yelled "We all we got!"

And then they responded: "We all we need!"

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I assume team columnist Richard Sherman will clean up the grammar. But that little chant says a lot about this team. The Seahawks may have the solution to stopping Peyton Manning: ignore him.

Seahawks coach Pete Carroll is a believer in simple, aggressive defenses. He puts Sherman on the field at left cornerback, asks Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas to patrol the middle of the field at safety, and everybody else attacks. There were two possibilities in this Super Bowl. Either Manning would pick apart that simple defense, or the Seahawks wouldn't get caught up in trying to guess what "Omaha" means and would simply dominate. We now know there was only one possibility.

"It's all about us," Smith said. "We pay more attention to the things we're doing than [to] anybody else. We have principles we live by and play by. We watched a lot of Peyton, but the practice is definitely more important. We know how we're going to play, how we're going to look. We know what the weaknesses are and the spots that a smart QB like him would attack."

Super Bowl XLVIII: Bad game, great performance
Sports Illustrated's Andrew Perloff and senior writer Jim Trotter discuss the lopsided win by the Seattle Seahawks over the Denver Broncos and break down Peyton Manning's night against a tough Seattle defense.

Smith was the game's MVP, but it was silly to give the award to one guy. The top 10 players on the field were all Seahawks. At halftime Seattle led 22-0, and if you have watched Manning for the last decade and a half, you may have thought he could make it a game. Even Smith thought that. Then Percy Harvin returned the second-half kickoff for a touchdown, and as Smith says: "After Percy ran that kick back, it was kind of like, 'They don't have a chance.'"

The Seahawks ran an interception back for a touchdown, and a kickoff back for a touchdown, and caught passes and ran for touchdowns, and the Broncos spent most of the third quarter calling back to their hotels for room service. The Broncos were shaky at the beginning and dazed soon after that. It was like they showed up pre-concussed.

Manning said the game's first play, a snap that sailed past his head, was a noise issue. I don't know if he was being sincere or covering for center Manny Ramirez, but this was a neutral-site game! Most of the fans behind Manning on that play were wearing Denver orange. This looked more like a nerves issue.

Soon after that, the Seahawks defense did what it often does. The Seahawks don't just win. They destroy. The talk for two weeks was about the Denver's No. 1-ranked offense against Seattle's top-ranked No. 1 defense, and it was easy to think about that as a matchup of X's vs. O's. But it wasn't.

It was about a talented Seahawks front that was in Manning's face from the snap, and that Legion of Boom secondary knocking around those big Bronco receivers.

Manning set a Super Bowl record for completions, but they were empty completions for meaningless yards. The Seahawks overwhelmed him, and this was by design.

In that postgame locker room, Carroll proudly noted his team was "plus-4" in the turnover margin, and it was another reminder that even in this age of advanced stats and complex strategy, emotion is such a big part of football. Some analysts, and some coaches, will argue convincingly that turnovers are largely random events. It makes sense. But Carroll holds "Turnover Thursdays" every week to emphasize the importance of the turnover battle, and it has paid off.

So what do we make of this blowout? Maybe if Ryan Clady and Von Miller are healthy next year, the Broncos can win their third Super Bowl. But the Seahawks will be a contender for the next few years. Russell Wilson can play the rest of his career without answering a single question about when he will win a Super Bow.l. Chancellor, Thomas and Sherman are in their prime. So is most of the roster. Players want to play for Pete Carroll, with Wilson, and in Seattle.

The city has waited so long for a champion. The Seahawks had never won a title. The Mariners have never won a title. The SuperSonics won one, in 1979, but a few years ago, Oklahoma City stole them.

Seattle got the reputation as a hipster city with soft fans, which was ridiculous, but hey, reputations don't have to be accurate. It took this team to change that, and to heal some of the old sports-fan wounds. It took the best, toughest team in the league. The nation might wonder why the Super Bowl stunk. Seattleites know: Their team was just too great.

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