“After an NFL season filled with uncertainty, scandal, and the unexpected, expect one thing from the final Sunday of professional football: Expect this Super Bowl to be the most watched ever.” Yes, that is in fact a quote from me from the column I wrote before the Super Bowl aired Sunday, February 2. That was the only prediction I made, and it did indeed come to pass. Super Bowl XLVIII was the single most-watched televised event in the history of the United States of America. According to the Hollywood Reporter, an average of 112.2 million viewers tuned in to watch the Seattle Seahawks and their aptly nicknamed defense, The Legion of Boom, absolutely dismantle the Denver Broncos record-breaking offense. The Super Bowl itself, though the definition of a snooze fest, was full of surprises, namely that Seattle won 43-8. So what did we learn?
To start, the fallout from the Broncos loss has been far less nuclear than expected. Peyton Manning, NFL league MVP for the fifth time this past season, lost another big, cold-weather game. This time in epically disappointing fashion. So the decided lack of Manning-ruined-his-legacy talk has been refreshing. Although the Broncos lost, if there were ever a time to lose a Super Bowl that time is right now. The Winter Olympics have not gotten off to a great start, to say the least. To the dismay of athletes and journalists from around the globe, the standard that Sochi has set so far is woefully low. It seems to be common that the cities who host the Olympics always have to push to the very last second to be ready, After all, the preparations for the London summer games came under a great amount of scrutiny, and the UK’s ability to pull off a successful games was questioned. But the British came through. Russia, on the other hand, has not faired as well. Amidst the terrorism, $51 billion cost, incompletion of facilities, strange bathrooms, stray dogs, and poisonous water of the Sochi Winter Olympics, there has hardly been time to talk about the Super Bowl. Lucky Broncos. They may be the only people in the world benefiting from the chaos that has been Sochi thus far.
Back to football, though. There will be plenty more to write about the Olympics in the two weeks to come, especially when the puck drops for Olympic hockey . Was Super Bowl XLVIII the worst loss in the history of the NFL? It was not, in terms of point differential between the two teams, the most lopsided loss in Super Bowl history. That unfortunate distinction belong to, you guessed it, a different Denver Broncos team! Denver lost to the San Francisco 49ers 55-10 in Super Bowl XXIV, that 45-point margin of defeat the largest ever in the big game. In fact, of the five most lopsided Super Bowl loses in NFL history, the Denver Broncos have been on the losing side three time. When one thinks of tortured fan bases, Denver doesn’t immediately come to mind. But after the Broncos’ heart-wrenching loss to the Baltimore Ravens in the NFL playoffs in 2013, and this loss suffered earlier this month, maybe it is time for that logic to change. The Mile High City has been through a lot the past two years.
Even if Super Bowl XLVIII didn’t produce the widest margin of victory, it still has to be considered the worst defeat ever for a few reasons. This year’s Denver team scored more on offense than any other team in league history. They did that on the shoulders of Peyton Manning, who threw for a video game-esque 55 touchdowns. This isn’t the case of some happy-go-lucky, Cinderella team making it to the Super Bowl on an improbable run before getting blown out. Denver was a juggernaut. Seattle held that multi-headed hydra of an offense to eight total points. Even those eight points seemed like a lot given the way the Seahawks played. The context of the Broncos loss is what makes it the worst ever, not the final score. But the onus doesn’t fall squarely on the Denver offense.
Seattle’s defense, the Legion of Boom, lead by Richard Sherman, might be the best defense since the ’85 Chicago Bears tore threw the league en route to a 15-1 regular season record and a Super Bowl title. Seattle’s coach Pete Carroll is not a good coach, he is a great coach. Not only did he get his ring, he is now one of only three men who have won a college football national title and a professional one, joining Barry Switzer and Jimmy Johnson. Pete Carroll has proved to the rest of the football world that a coach doesn’t need to be a mean, fire-spitting monster on the sideline, too. His players love him, and he keeps it loose.
What we learned from the Super Bowl: The Olympics have been an unparalleled disaster thus far, Super Bowl XLVIII is the worst championship loss in league history, Seattle has a legendary defense, and Pete Carroll is an awesome guy and a great coach. I can’t wait for the football to start again.