Metlife stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, played host to the biggest event in the American sporting calendar yesterday (2nd February) as the Denver Broncos faced off against the Seattle Seahawks for the Vince Lombardi Trophy. For only the second time in the last two decades the top seed from each conference advanced to the Superbowl, it is also the first time since 1990 that the number one offence (in terms of yards and points gained) matched up against the number one Defence for the championship.
Denver had a record breaking offensive season this year posting a 13 win, three loss record and taking the top seed in the AFC going into the playoffs. In the regular season their quarterback, Peyton Manning, broke records in passing yardage (5,477) and passing touchdowns (55) whilst the team smashed the single season record for points gained (606). The Broncos offensive unit focussed around Peyton Manning and his otherworldly receiving corps, backed up by an average defensive team who improved greatly over the season. In the first round of the playoffs they dispatched their divisional rivals the San Diego Chargers, who where the only team to beat them at home in the regular season. To secure their place in the Super bowl they beat the New England Patriots in a thrilling overtime win.
The Seahawks are a team built around a very strong Defence and a dynamic balanced offense. The quarterback, Russell Wilson, is only a second year player who has shocked everyone with his playmaking ability. When he entered the league he was viewed as undersized and was therefore overlooked by many teams. However after leading his team to the playoffs last year and a 13-3 record this year he has cemented his place as one of the more dangerous quarterbacks in the league. Seattle’s strength however lies in its defence, with a secondary known as the Legion of Boom and linemen who can harass QBs and stop opposing running backs. In the playoffs they embarrassed the New Orleans Saints, not letting them score in the first three quarters. The conference championship game saw their huge divisional rivals, and last years Superbowl runners up, The San Francisco 49ers come to Seattle to fight for the right to represent the NFC at the Superbowl. In a tight game where San Francisco lead into the final quarter, Russell Wilson lead them on two huge drives to lift them over the 49ers and into the biggest game of the year.
The First Half
After the theatricals of the Coin Flip, The National Anthem and flyover from the Air Force the game finally kicked off. Things didn’t go Denver’s way from the very beginning. After receiving the kickoff the first play was fumbled back into Denver’s End Zone for a Safety (a bit like an own goal in soccer, gives up 2 points and forces the team to punt the ball to the opposing team). This play set the tone for the rest of Denver’s game. Seattle outscored Denver 22-0 in the first half including in interception returned for a touchdown by eventual game most valuable player (MVP) Malcolm Smith.
The Superbowl Half Time show is always a spectacular show, this year Bruno Mars linked up with the Red Hot Chilli Peppers to entertain and amaze. The set started with Bruno Mars rising from the hastily erected stage playing a very impressive drum solo. His set list included favourites such as Locked out of Heaven, Treasure and Just The Way You Are. He was also joined by the Red Hot Chilli Peppers for their song Give it Away.
Within 12 seconds of the second half kicking off Seattle had yet another touchdown. Matt Prater of the Broncos kicked the ball deep into Seattle territory to start of the half, the kick was caught by Percy Harvin, making only his third start of the year thanks to injuries. Harvin showed the explosiveness that makes him such a valuable player by taking the kick 87 yards into the end zone to put the Seahawks up by 29 points. Ironically it only took Seattle 12 seconds to force the safety in the first half. Seattle were up by 36 by the time Denver finally managed to put points on the board with a 14 yard pass for a touchdown late in the third quarter. This touchdown was followed by a two Point Conversion (usually a team will kick a 17 yard field goal for an extra point after a touchdown, however they can choose to try and run or pass it into the end zone again from the two yard line for two points). The fourth quarter continued the trend for Denver struggling on both sides of the ball, with Seattle putting up another score to finish the game 43-8.
All of the hype leading up to this game, and the way both teams had been playing throughout the season hinted that this should be a very close, exciting and interesting game. Unfortunately on the day Denver where overmatched and Seattle showed the class and poise they have shown all year. This is a record breaking fifth loss for the Broncos in Superbowls, and the first win for Seattle. For the winners: $92,000 each, a trip to meet the president and a nice shiny Superbowl ring; for the losers: $46,000 (which still isn’t bad) and a long trip home to Denver to prepare to do it all again next year.