WHAT A GAME!
The Super Bowl rematch was everything it was billed to be. Pretty much everyone expected a much closer game than that of the Super Bowl, and that was what we got in the way of the 26-20 overtime thriller at DA CLINK.
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However, as a whole, the game was not nearly as close as the score suggests. The reigning champs dominated the first three quarters, only to give it all back in the final stanza.
The Seahawks defense completely dominated the Broncos offense for three quarters by holding them to under 200 yards of total offense and just a single field goal, while forcing two turnovers.
Their rush defense was ABSOLUTELY DOMINANT again, as they allowed fewer than two yards per carry. Meanwhile, like in the Super Bowl, the defensive line appeared to be wearing down the Broncos offensive front, thus forcing Peyton Manning into his happy feet dance, which is when he is most likely to make poor decisions and/or poor throws.
Accordingly, Seattle was up 17-3 at the end of the third quarter.
However, they seemingly took their foot off the accelerator on offense down the stretch. They seemed intent on simply burning down the clock on offense with the assumption that the defense would continue its domination to that point.
As the Hawks offense went stagnant in the third quarter again (as it did in the win over the Packers), I started getting an uneasy feeling about the 14-point lead being enough to win. I had a feeling they needed to be up by three scores and, unfortunately, they failed on their only opportunity to do so in the third period, as Steven Hauschka‘s 46-yard field goal was blocked with 1:42 left.
Accordingly, the ray of hope remained for a Broncos team that is easily capable of putting up 14 points in a single quarter against even the stoutest of defenses.
So, when the Denver defense opened the final period by not only sacking Russell Wilson on the one-yard line, but then subsequently stopping Marshawn Lynch for a loss in the endzone for a safety, the momentum had clearly shifted.
Though the momentum gained by the safety appeared to be at least partially quelled by the Hawks defense when they forced the Broncos to punt after only five plays on the impending drive, the Broncos immediately intercepted Wilson and kept the momentum on their side.
That turned out to be exactly what the Broncos offense needed, as they quickly turned the turnover into points with a touchdown, thus bringing them within five points at 17-12 with just over nine minutes left in the game.
The Seattle offense was able to move the ball pretty effectively when they got the ball back, but ended up having to punt from their own 42 with just over six minutes left.
It was the following Denver drive that proved that they had, in fact, gained confidence from the preceding turn of events. Manning was no longer doing the happy dance and, accordingly, started picking the Legion of Boom apart with a series of passes underneath to Wes Welker and company.
However, the well-executed Bronco drive that lasted nearly four minutes ended with a Kam Chancellor interception. As Chancellor returned the interception 52 yards to the Denver 35, it appeared that the Hawks had finally put the nail in the coffin.
Unfortunately, the Hawks decided to go super conservative by running the ball on four consecutive plays and settled for a 28-yard field goal that put them up by eight with just over a minute left.
Though I get that the Hawks didn’t want to make a mistake, as to ensure that they get at least three points out of the possession, I think it would have better served them to continue with the diverse offensive attack that has been so effective for them this season. Not only would it have given them a better chance of scoring a touchdown and sealing the game, it also could have given them a better chance at extending the drive and further running down the clock.
The result, of course, was that the Broncos were able to surprise everyone by subsequently marching 80 yards down the field in only 35 seconds for a touchdown and subsequently converting the 2-point conversion to tie the game at 20.
Thankfully, the Seahawks won the coin toss to start the overtime period, as the Broncos offense was humming and it would likely have been hard for the Hawks defense to stop them.
I think it is safe to say that everyone in the building at that point, including the Seahawks themselves, knew that anything short of a touchdown on the initial overtime possession would very likely result in a heartbreaking loss.
What followed was a masterful 80-yard drive orchestrated by the amazingly poised Russell Wilson. It was a very balanced drive of runs and passes that ended in Beast Mode weaving through the defense and ultimately diving into the endzone for the game-winning six yard touchdown.
Given the “any given Sunday” nature of the NFL, you simply cannot take your foot off the pedal until the fat lady has sung, as it only takes a few big plays to change the outcome of a given contest. Hopefully, the Hawks will have learned that lesson and will remember this game as they continue their pursuit of the all so elusive repeat Championship.
How you finish is more important than how you start, whether it be a single game, or the season as a whole. That being the case, games like this will likely determine whether the Seattle Seahawks hold up the Vince Lombardi trophy again this winter.