Denver Broncos: Super Bowl XLVIII grades
February, 2, 2014
By Kieran Darcy | ESPN.com
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The Denver Broncos were thoroughly outclassed by the Seattle Seahawks 43-8 in Super Bowl XLVIII at MetLife Stadium. The first half was an unqualified disaster, and the second half wasn't much better. When you were a child, if you took this kind of report card home to your parents, you'd be grounded for a month.
Things couldn't have gotten off to a worse start for the Broncos. On their first snap from scrimmage, a shotgun snap sailed over Peyton Manning's head for a safety. Manning threw two interceptions in the first half, one returned for a touchdown by Malcolm Smith, who was named MVP. Denver finally scored in the final minute of the third quarter, a TD pass to Demaryius Thomas, who set a Super Bowl record with 13 receptions (for 118 yards) -- but Thomas also had a fumble in the third quarter. Manning had a Super Bowl-record 34 completions for 280 yards, but he also had the two interceptions.
The Broncos rushed the ball only eight times in the first half for 19 yards -- 2.4 yards per carry. And down big in the second half, they had only six more rushes for 8 yards. So there weren't many opportunities, but Knowshon Moreno & Co. did next to nothing with the chances they were given.
Russell Wilson didn't put up big numbers in the first half -- 9-of-14 for 94 yards. But the Seahawks were 4-of-6 on third downs, with Wilson throwing for a first down each time. Wilson didn't post big numbers in the second half, either. But he threw a pair of touchdown passes to Jermaine Kearse and Doug Baldwin. The Broncos didn't cover well and tackled even worse.
The Broncos did an outstanding job stopping Marshawn Lynch in the first half, limiting him to 17 yards on 11 carries. But wide receiver Percy Harvin had two running plays for 45 yards, including a 30-yarder on a jet sweep on Seattle's first drive of the game. Lynch finished with just 39 yards but did have a touchdown. With Lynch, Harvin, Wilson and Robert Turbin, the Seahawks had 29 carries for 135 yards (4.7 yards per carry).
The Seahawks led 22-0 at halftime, but Manning has engineered comebacks before. That hope evaporated as soon as Harvin took the second-half kickoff 87 yards for a touchdown to make it 29-0. Harvin took the kick on a bounce, but the coverage and the tackling were terrible. Trindon Holliday wasn't very good on kick returns, either, averaging 21 yards on five returns.
John Fox has to shoulder a healthy portion of the blame. As evidenced by the safety on the very first snap -- in fact, as evidenced by the entire first half -- the Broncos were off their game. He also made a bad instant-replay challenge in the first half and elected to punt in the third quarter with his team down 29-0, essentially waving the white flag.