EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. Worst. Super Bowl. Ever.
Fine, so maybe not the worst ever because the Dolphins domination of the Minnesota Vikings in Super Bowl 8 — the one in which the winning team threw seven times and NFL Films had to focus on blocking schemes to make the game seem interesting — was a snooze-fest everywhere excluding South Florida. And the 52-17 demolition of the Buffalo Bills at the hands of the Dallas Cowboys in Super Bowl 27 was also hard on the eyes.
So maybe, possibly, perhaps this wasn’t the worst of all time.
But if you’re under 40 years old, you likely agree this was the worst because this Bowl was many things but Super wasn’t anywhere in the neighborhood.
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The commercials were good but not great by this national holiday’s $4 million-a-pop standards, but they were much more entertaining than the game.
The halftime show with Bruno Mars was a hit-and-miss affair, with half of the social media world calling Mars the greatest thing since Michael Jackson and the other half wishing he’d trade places with Jackson. (Social media is not for the faint of heart.)
Yet Mars and his show with the Red Hot Chili Peppers put this game to shame.
With all due respect to the wonderful city of Seattle and the juggernaut team the Emerald City sent to this NFL championship, this game was at once a yawn and a disappointment. It was a chore to stay tuned after halftime.
As championships go, this was Tyson-Spinks. As dramas go this made Battlefield Earth seem compelling.
It’s not that the Seahawks didn’t do their part.
Their defense is amazing. TV does them no justice because in person their overall speed and playmaking ability is jaw dropping. They rally to the ball with urgency and get there in a very bad mood.
Whatever general manager John Schneider and coach Pete Carroll’s formula is, copy that, Dolphins GM Dennis Hickey.
That group is outstanding.
And it’s not that Seattle’s offense isn’t compelling. Quarterback Russell Wilson is accurate and can make timely plays with his feet as well as his arm. Even when cowbell running back Marshawn Lynch is eliminated from the game, as he was Sunday when he averaged 2.6 yards per carry in gaining 39 yards, the Seahawks have other ways to win.
They can unleash Percy Harvin, who is lightning fast when he’s healthy. They can throw to underrated receivers such as Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse.
That group is solid enough.
But when only one team shows up to a Super Bowl — after all the hype, and all the preparation and all the expectations — the failure is clumsy and ugly and almost sad.
That’s how it was for the Denver Broncos.
“At the end of the day, there’s no excuses,” Denver coach John Fox said.
And then he started making excuses.
“We overcame a lot and went through a lot during the season,” he said.
The Broncos, who have suffered blowout losses in Super Bowls past, embarrassed themselves. Peyton Manning threw two interceptions and fed the narrative that he’s a great regular-season quarterback, but not one that gets it done on the championship stage. The Broncos fumbled four times and lost two of those.
“I wouldn’t use the word embarrassed but it shows what can happen when you don’t execute,” tight end Julius Thomas said.
“It was embarrassing,” teammate Wes Welker said.
This Super Bowl’s first play from scrimmage was a disaster for the Broncos because it showed the best Denver could do with two weeks of preparation was have center Manny Ramirez snap the ball past Manning and into the end zone.
And then things got worse. The rest of the first half soon took on the visage of a 1980s era Broncos Super Bowl appearance.
The 22-0 Seattle lead was the third largest halftime lead in Super Bowl history behind only the Redskins’ 25-point lead in Super Bowl 22 and the 49ers’ 24-point lead in Super Bowl 24 — those also against the Broncos.
At halftime, there was a question whether Denver could come back. Somebody circulated the statistic that Manning’s largest career comeback was 24 points.
Waste of time.
After scoring 12 seconds into the game, the Seahawks scored 12 seconds into the second half when Percy Harvin returned the kickoff 87 yards for a touchdown.
The sound you heard were remote controls across America clicking to a new channel.
At that point the Seahawks became the first team to score touchdowns on offensive, defense and special teams.
By the time it was over, the Seattle defense outscored the Broncos 9-8. The Seattle special teams outscored the Broncos 13-8.
Denver fielded the NFL’s most prolific offense this season. But it never showed up. And then Denver defense that held Seattle to field goals rather than touchdowns in the first quarter exited the building.
Kearse put the Seahawks up 36-0 when he caught a 23-yard touchdown pass with less than three minutes to play in the third quarter.
Actually, it was more like a 10-yard pass and then Kearse broke four tackles, bouncing off a couple and running off a couple more, to get in the end zone.
The only reason Kearse didn’t break more tackles on the play is because there were no more defenders available to embarrass.
Seattle’s Richard Sherman sustained an injury with 10 minutes to play in the game and the press box public address breathlessly announced the gifted cornerback’s return was doubtful to return.
It was unnecessary he return with his team leading 43-8.
A few minutes later, Manning set a Super Bowl record with 34 pass completions.
Perfect. I’m sure years from now, he will tell his grandkids about that night when he set the Super Bowl completions record.