The Seahawks' blowout victory in Super Bowl XLVIII might have surprised some, but Giants fans could have seen it coming.
The Seahawks’ defense that made Broncos quarterback and NFL MVP Peyton Manning look ordinary on Sunday night made two-time Super Bowl MVP Eli Manning look helpless in a shoutout loss in December. In that regular-season defeat, Eli Manning threw five interceptions and was sacked three times in a 23-0 decision.
Like Eli Manning, Peyton Manning is best in the pocket. And on Sunday night at MetLife Stadium, the Seahawks pressured the pocket. Though they sacked Manning just once, the Seahawks’ pass rush made its presence felt, never more than when defensive end Cliff Avril hit Manning’s arm on the second-quarter pass that turned into Malcolm Smith’s 69-yard interception return for a touchdown.
Overall, Manning completed 34-of-49 passes for 280 yards, but he had just one touchdown, and he was picked twice. The Seahawks’ defense blunted his effectiveness.
The Seahawks’ offense, meanwhile, played an efficient and skilled game, converting 7-of-12 third downs and managing to rush for 135 yards even with tailback Marshawn Lynch held in check by Denver’s defense. Quarterback Russell Wilson was sharp, completing 18-of-25 passes for 206 yards and a pair of scores. He was not sacked, and he did not commit a turnover.
Funny how that works.
There are many who will suggest the Seahawks’ success has only just begun, that multiple championships are within their reach. On the Monday after the Super Bowl, such discussion is logical and premature in equal parts. The Seahawks are young, and are they ever talented. It’s only reasonable to wonder if the best is yet to come.
However, many defending Super Bowl champions haven’t been able to recapture that championship form. The Seahawks also have the difficult task of dealing with division-rival San Francisco, which has advanced to the NFC title game in each of the last three seasons.
The Seahawks have what the 49ers want. The Niners will be very dangerous next year; they are skilled, and they will be determined.
In the short-term, the Seahawks’ biggest challenge will be refocusing. Here was a team that dominated in the 2013 preseason before winning the NFC West and accomplishing their postseason goals. Now that they are champions, can they push the reset button and do it again?
In any event, the Seahawks will enter 2014 as one of the sure Super Bowl favorites, with the 49ers in their shadows.
As for the Giants and Jets?
Well, there is work to be done, and lots of it. All they can do is focus on their business and address rosters that need to be bolstered. With productive offseasons, perhaps they can be playoff contenders.
For the teams that didn’t win the Super Bowl, that’s the beauty of the Monday after. The page is turned, and next season is already upon us. Oh, the possibilities!
As long those teams don’t dwell too much on the still-vivid image of one of the NFL’s greatest passers being made to look like pedestrian by Seattle, they will be OK.
If you don't know Seattle pulled it off, just ask a Giants fan.