The disappointment I feel after the conclusion of Super Bowl XLVIII — a 43-8 blowout of the Denver Broncos by the Seattle Seahawks — is strange, given that I didn’t really have a horse in the race. My Steelers wallowed through a disappointing 8-8 season and missed the playoffs for a second straight year. That was disappointing in itself, but I’m really struck by how oddly empty my football life feels following this dud of a Super Bowl.
Being a Steelers fan, I’m a big fan of defense, so I can appreciate the defensive dominance displayed by the Seahawks, which was highlighted in the rare designation of a defensive player, Malcolm Smith (LB), as Super Bowl MVP. But a score of 43-8 does not result simply from stellar defensive play; perhaps an even more significant contributor to that score was Denver’s ineptitude. And inept play is not what we should be getting during the biggest professional sporting event of the year.
Denver was simply atrocious from the opening kickoff, when return man Trindon Holliday took a kickoff out of the back of the endzone and failed to even come close to getting it back to the 20-yard line. It was an error in judgement, given the dominant special teams play demonstrated by Seattle all year. And it was an error in judgement that Holliday made over, and over, and over again on seemingly every kickoff he got his hands on. Did he not see the dismal statistics on special teams that other teams put together this year vs. Seattle? Even I knew it was a mistake, and I didn’t just spend two weeks getting ready for the game. Take the free 20 yards, and move on.
Denver followed up the opening kickoff by snapping the ball when Peyton Manning was calling an audible on the first play from scrimmage, resulting in a loose ball that eventually ended in a safety. To add icing to the error, Denver was flagged on the play — a penalty that was obviously declined. Nevertheless, it’s an indication that Denver really wasn’t ready for the big stage.
The problems persisted all game. The offensive line was terrible, Manning was skittish, the play-calling was impotent, passes were dropped, fumbles were abundant, and most incredibly the Denver receivers were caught running backwards seemingly more often than forward. Seriously, in a game against the NFL’s top defense, when you’re losing and have been unable to get any offensive rhythm, running backwards after catching the ball is about as stupid as you can get.
So while Seattle did play great defense, Denver’s horrible offense took all the joy out of it.
What it all added up to was a boring game that left neutral fans like myself feeling helpless. Without an investment in either team, I really didn’t have a reason to keep watching the game as it spiraled further and further into a blowout. I love the game of football, and I love watching competitive games, but what was unfolding in front of me couldn’t be called a game. Yet there I was at the end of the game, still watching. The whole season of NFL football had led up to this moment, Super Bowl XLVIII, and I just couldn’t come to terms with it being such a dud.
Now here we are, looking at 7 months sans-football, and the perhaps the most memorable moment from the Super Bowl is Richard Sherman’s outburst once his Super Bowl trip had been secured — and that was really neither football related nor a part of the Super Bowl. What a bust.