Sunday, February 2, 2014

Worst Bronco Super Bowl Loss Ever

Well, so much for my NFL prognostication skills.  My pick of the Broncos over the Seahawks "by 10 to 20 points" was way off as Seattle easily defeated Denver 43-8 in Super Bowl 48.  I think this was the worst Bronco Super Bowl loss ever.

Before I get to that, in my game prediction I was right about what to "fear" about the Seahawks:

"Why Seattle has a chance:
Turnovers.  Seattle's defense is opportunistic, and Peyton Manning has thrown crucial interceptions in playoff losses in the past (like his game clinching interception to Tracy Porter in Super Bowl 44, and his overtime interception in last year's Baltimore playoff game which led to the Ravens victory that day."

Turnovers really hurt the Broncos this game, starting with the first snap that sailed over Peyton Manning's head for a safety.  The biggest play of the game was when the Broncos, down 15-0, were driving for a score late in the first half only to give up a 69 yard interception return for a TD to Seahawks linebacker Malcolm Smith.  A 22-0 deficit at the half is a whole lot worse that 15-7.  The Broncos had four turnovers in the game to the Seahawks' none.

"The preseason game.  The Seahawks beat the Broncos in this season's preseason matchup, winning 40-10.  The preseason doesn't mean much, you may ask?  Well that day Seattle physically dominated Denver, even when the starters for both teams saw action in the first half.  Over the years I've seen physical teams like the Seahawks beat finesse teams like the Broncos in playoff games more often than not."

I felt like I was watching a replay of the preseason game, in that Seattle physically dominated Denver in the Super Bowl.  The Seahawks punished the Bronco receivers and got more pressure on Peyton Manning than I expected.

"Percy Harvin.  Seattle wide receiver Percy Harvin has missed most of the season due to injuries.  He is reportedly healthy now and will be a key player for the Seahawks on Sunday.  The last time the Broncos faced Harvin, when he played for Minnesota, he had 156 receiving yards, 2 td's, and also carried the ball 5 times out of the backfield.  The multipurpose Harvin is also a threat on punt and kick returns. "

Percy Harvin was HUGE in the Super Bowl.  A factor in the first half in the rushing game (2 rushes for 45 yards), Harvin clinched the game for the Seahawks with a kickoff return for a TD to start the second half.

"Russell Wilson's mobility.  Bronco fans are sure to remember the scrambling ability of Tim Tebow from the quarterback position.  Seattle's Russell Wilson has that ability to make plays with his feet, too, and with a much more accurate arm than Tebow has"

Wilson was able to convert several key third downs with his scrambling ability - either running for the first down or avoiding the Bronco rush to complete a pass.  Wilson was not sacked in the game.

So why do I think this was the worst Bronco super bowl ever?  The Broncos have only been favored in two Super Bowls that they ended up losing - this one and the 42-10 loss to Washington in Super Bowl 22.  Most Bronco fans, including me, really thought they'd win both games.  The Washington game at least had a thrilling 1st quarter, where the Broncos scored on their first play from scrimmage (a long pass from John Elway to Ricky Nattiel).  Denver led 10-0 after the first quarter in that game before falling apart. This Seattle Super Bowl had no such redeeming moments.  The Broncos were out of it right from the very first play.

Still, it was a fun season, with Peyton Manning and the Broncos record setting passing game and with two very satisfying home playoff wins to reach the Super Bowl.  And as much as the loss stings this longtime Bronco fan, at least the franchise HAS won a couple of Super Bowls.  That makes this loss easier to take.  I think of the Buffalo and Minnesota NFL fans whose teams have never won the Vince Lombardi Trophy (in 8 attempts).  Many other teams, like Cleveland and Detroit, have never even reached the big game.

I predicted this Super Bowl would be the reverse of the 1977 Denver Dallas Super Bowl.  In reality it was very similar to that game.  The Cowboys Doomsday Defense dominated the Broncos back then (the Broncos had 8 turnovers in a 27-10 loss).  Seattle repeated the feat in this season's Super Bowl, winning the turnover battle and shutting down the vaunted Bronco offense.