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Sellner: Seattle’s dominance prevails in Super Bowl XLVIII

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It’s been one day since the Seahawks stomped all over the Broncos in Sunday’s Super Bowl, and if you’re like me, you’re trying to pick up the pieces of what was supposed to be a clash of the ages and try to figure out what in the hell happened at the Meadowlands.

Seattle, particularly its imposing defense, was much better than anyone gave them credit for leading up to the game. The fitting and cliché narrative in the two weeks leading up to the big game was the No. 1 defense trying to slow down the No. 1 offense. You probably heard the phrase “something’s got to give” an exhausting amount of times from a number of media outlets.

Little did we know it would be Denver “giving” Seattle the ball. Again and again.

The Seahawks were big, strong and fast. With one dominating performance, a 43-8 rout, they jumped from the best defense in the league to perhaps one of the best in the history of the league, drawing worthy comparisons to the 2000 Ravens and 2002 Buccaneers.

And there wasn’t one player that stood out. All who watched probably would’ve liked to award the Super Bowl MVP to the entire defense, or perhaps quarterback Russell Wilson by default, but it ultimately went to let-me-get-out-my-smart-phone-and-check-who-the-hell-is Malcolm Smith. Not even Richard Sherman, the man who received so much unwarranted criticism following his postgame rant in an interview with FOX’s Erin Andrews, could stand out, except for his frequent and unfortunate visits from the training staff.

If you’re like me, it was refreshing to see a team excel at tackling in the open field instead of watching crossing receivers pile up on yards after the catch, which Patriots fans have become all too accustomed to seeing their defense give up with ease over the past few years. Anytime Demaryius Thomas or Wes Welker went across the middle, they were drilled and swallowed up, never more evident than when on a third and six inches, Thomas took a quick screen and proceeded to start backwards to try to avoid the oncoming swarm of tacklers instead of falling forward for the easy first down.

The Seahawks showed once and for all that defense is still what matters in the postseason. High-flying, record-setting offenses make for nice airtime on SportsCenter and talk radio, but physical defenses will more often than not prevail over finesse offenses. Just ask the 2007-08 Patriots. Now ask these 2013-14 Broncos. It wouldn’t have mattered if the 49ers showed up instead of Seattle. The result would have been the same.     Nothing came easy for the Broncos, which leads me to the inevitable discussion of Peyton Manning.

Sunday could easily have been the day Manning cemented his legacy and shut up all the doubters if he went out took care of business and notched his second Super Bowl ring. Had Denver prevailed, there wouldn’t be much more of an argument against ranking Manning as one of the top three or four quarterbacks in league history, perhaps leap-frogging the “Golden Boy” Tom Brady.

But that’s not how things happened Sunday. Instead of Manning slinging it across the field and leading long, career-defining drives, he was left with his trademark Manning face that looks more like a school boy frustrated with a relentless bully stealing his lunch money than the NFL’s single-season touchdown pass record holder.

So, what do we make of Manning’s career? What legacy will he have if he never gets another ring?

Manning will always be remembered as one of the most revolutionary quarterbacks in the game. His command of the line of scrimmage and never-wavering preparation are becoming more of the norm than the exception, and that’s because of the culture Manning has brought to football.

But there will always be the “but” to the argument. Manning was one of the best, BUT he had a knack for coming up short in the big game. Manning holds so many records, BUT he also has the most playoff loses in league history.

            The only record that matters is that of wins and losses. It’s only fitting that on Sunday, Manning set the record for most completions in a Super Bowl (34), yet it came in a beatdown.

            There are lots of quarterbacks who won one Super Bowl, guys like Brad Johnson and Trent Dilfer. And for most quarterbacks, that’s plenty good enough.

But not when you’re discussing the best of all-time. The two-time-champion club is a must. And it only hurts Peyton’s image that his younger brother, Eli, sits in that very club.

And as he raced after center Manny Ramirez’s game-opening debacle of a snap that led to a safety, he very well could’ve been chasing after his final opportunity to change the message that would be engrained on his career tombstone when he hangs them up.

But he let that one get away, too.

Stephen Sellner can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @Stephen_Sellner.

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