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Monday, February 3, 2014
Balance over 'Star Wars' stats wins again

By Mike Wells

INDIANAPOLIS -- Backtrack almost four months ago when you wanted Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay to stay quiet and let the Oct. 20 game against the Denver Broncos be about Peyton Manning's return to the city where he spent the first 14 seasons.

Irsay upset some when he said, "You love to have the 'Star Wars' numbers from Peyton and Marvin [Harrison] and Reggie [Wayne]. Mostly, you love this [ring]," during an interview with USA Today back in October.

Manning and the Broncos broke all kinds of NFL offensive records this season, but when it mattered most -- winner take all -- it was the team with balance, and the kind Irsay hopes to have in Indianapolis one day, that dominated Sunday's Super Bowl XLVIII.

Seattle got contributions on offense, special teams and the defense lived up to its season-long billing of being the league's best in the 43-8 blowout victory.

But hey, Manning set a Super Bowl record for most completions with 34. The finger definitely can’t be strictly pointed at Manning, but the loss did bring his career playoff record to 11-12, including 1-2 in the Super Bowl.  

The convincing victory showed the gap between the NFC and AFC this season because the Broncos were clearly the best team in the conference.

Seattle’s defense is in a rare class by itself with the 1985 Chicago Bears and 2000 Baltimore Ravens, but its makeup as a team is the blueprint that the Colts and many other teams in the NFL should strive for.

The Seahawks' average age is 26 years and 138 days. That’s a scary thought for the rest of the league if they’re able to keep their key players for years to come.

Indianapolis is set at quarterback with Andrew Luck and should have several key offensive players back from injury next season, but it has work to do on defense to even become a top-15 unit. The Colts were 20th in the league on defense and they gave up an average of 21 points a game. Both of the Colts' key special teams players, punter Pat McAfee and kicker Adam Vinatieri, will be free agents.