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Seahawks ride defense to Super Bowl victory
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Defense does still win championships after all.
The Seahawks didn’t just ride their No. 1-ranked defense to the first Super Bowl championship in franchise history on Sunday night; they suffocated the highest-scoring offense in NFL history during a 43-8 romp over the Denver Broncos at MetLife Stadium.
In winning Super Bowl XLVIII, the Seahawks became the first team to have a safety, a kickoff return, and an interception return for touchdowns – thanks to defensive end Cliff Avril, wide receiver Percy Harvin and linebacker Malcolm Smith.
The victory allowed Pete Carroll to become the third coach to win NCAA Championship and Super Bowl games. He won NCAA titles at USC in 2003 and 2004. The only other coaches to accomplish the championship double were Jimmy Johnson, who won a NCAA title at the University of Miami and two Super Bowls with the Dallas Cowboys; and Barry Switzer, who won two NCAA titles at Oklahoma and a Super Bowl title with the Cowboys.
It also prevented Manning, who won his record fifth league MVP award on Saturday night, from becoming the first quarterback to win Super Bowl titles with two teams. He had led the Indianapolis Colts to the title in Super Bowl XLI.
But this night belonged to the Seahawks, and especially a defense that forced four turnovers.
The first half was all Seahawks, and then some, as they jumped to a 22-0 lead. The Broncos’ five first-half possessions ended with a safety, a punt, two interceptions and a tipped pass on fourth down. That’s how you pitch a first-half shutout against the highest-scoring offense in NFL history.
The Seahawks took the Broncos’ free kick after the safety and drove 51 yards in nine plays to a 31-yard field goal by Steven Hauschka to make it 5-0 with 10:21 left in the quarter. Russell Wilson was 2 of 3 for 18 yards and ran twice for 10 yards on the drive.
After the defense forced a three-and-out, highlighted by a huge hit from Kam Chancellor on second down, the Seahawks drove 58 yards in 13 plays to a 33-yard field goal by Hauschka to make it 8-0 with 2:16 left. Wilson converted three third-down situations with passes to Golden Tate (10 yards), Doug Baldwin (6) and Baldwin (37).
The Broncos were driving on their next possession, but Avril hit Peyton Manning as he was throwing the ball on third-and-13 and Malcolm Smith intercepted the floater and returned it 69 yards for a touchdown to make it 22-0 with 3:21 left in the half.
Avril has been dubbed “The Big Turnover” by his teammates, and he came up with yet another big play by forcing the pop-up pass. Smith’s 69-yard return was the longest for a TD in a Super Bowl since the Saints’ Tracy Porter returned one 74 yards against Manning in Super Bowl 44.
The Broncos then drove to the Seahawks’ 19, but Chris Clemons tipped Manning’s fourth-down pass that fluttered incomplete.
The Seahawks picked up in the second half where they left off in the first, and then some.
Quicker than you could say second-half kickoff, Harvin returned it 87 yards for a touchdown to run the Seahawks’ lead to 29-0.
The Broncos then drove to the Seahawks’ 38, but Chancellor broke up Manning’s second-down pass to Wes Welker and Wright stopped Montee Ball for a 1-yard loss on third down to force a punt.
After the Seahawks punted, the Broncos got the ball back – only to have the Seahawks get it right back, when Byron Maxwell forced Demaryius Thomas to fumble after a 23-yard reception and Malcom Smith recovered.
The Seahawks cashed in on the turnover when Wilson and Jermaine Kearse hooked up for a 23-yard TD pass to make it 36-0 with 2:58 left. Kearse was hit three times and spun from the contact twice on his way to the end zone.
The Broncos opened the fourth quarter with an onside kick, which Zach Miller recovered for the Seahawks at the Denver 48.
Wilson then passed 10 yards to Baldwin for a TD that made it 43-8 with 11:45 left in the game. Wilson was 5 of 5 for 58 yards, including 24-yard to Jermaine Kearse.
After that, this one was over long before it was over, as the Seahawks avenged the 2005 team’s loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XL. And then some. Read