Sunday, February 2, 2014
Sharing Super Bowl thoughts
By Mike Reiss
Sharing thoughts on the Super Bowl with a Patriots-based twist:
1. A reminder about "loading up" talk: One of the hot topics of discussion has been quarterback Tom Brady's "window" to win a championship and the idea of surrounding him with more weapons, like the Broncos did with Peyton Manning in 2013. A defensive performance like the Seahawks put forth in this game serves as a reminder that a swarming, hard-hitting defense can authoritatively slam that type of window shut. Wow. What a defensive performance by the Seahawks.
2. With MVP, time for another 'team' moment in Super Bowl: The Patriots made history by being introduced as a team prior to XXXVI. As the result of this Super Bowl seemed more and more certain in the third quarter, this thought came to mind: It would be history-making and appropriate if those deciding the award elected to give it to the entire Seahawks' defense. Or even the entire team. Really, how do you fairly pick one player?
3. Holding myself accountable on pressuring Manning: Similar to Tom Brady, my feeling has been that the best way to pressure Manning is up the middle because he often gets the ball out so quick. So the best way to disrupt the rhythm of the passing game is with up-the-middle pressure to make Manning move his feet, and combine that with physical play against receivers. There is still validity to that thought, but what stood out to me was the Seahawks' edge pressure with Chris Clemons and Cliff Avril; they dominated tackles Chris Clark and Orlando Franklin and pinched the pocket consistently. Manning seldom looked comfortable, his feet shuffling on almost every snap. Again, the Seahawks' defense was simply remarkable.
4. Safety brought back Brady memories: With Manning having a snap sail over his head and result in a safety on the Broncos' first snap 12 seconds into the game, it brought back memories of the intentional-grounding-in-the-end-zone penalty against Brady in Super Bowl XLVI -- coming on the Patriots' first snap (after the Giants' opening possession). It seemed like an uphill climb for the Patriots that day from that point. It certainly was for the Broncos in this game.
5. Brady, Manning and legacies: This was a big part of the pregame media build-up to the AFC Championship Game, the idea that the legacies of Brady and Manning would be impacted by the result. I didn't buy it then, so I'm not jumping on the thought in the Super Bowl as it relates to Manning. I still feel they will both go down as two of the greatest who ever played the game.
6. How would Patriots have matched up? If the Patriots played like they did in the AFC Championship Game, they would have decisively suffered the same fate as the Broncos. The Seahawks were outstanding in all three phases. But if the Patriots brought their ‘A’ game, like we saw in Week 16 in Baltimore, I think they could have made it competitive and had a chance to win.