Time Out for Sports Talk – Super Bowl Rules In Favor Of The Defense
Todd: After correctly predicting both opponents and the winner of this year’s Super Bowl way back in September, I might as well retire from prognosticating right now, because there is no way I will ever be this right again.
So why doesn’t anyone ever talk about the dog days of winter? Now that the NFL season is complete, it looks like we’ve hit another lull in the sports calendar, one that I will attempt to fill with some final thoughts on the big game and a few other timely topics.
In last week’s column, had I said that Peyton Manning and Demaryius Thomas would respectively set Super Bowl records for completions (34) and receptions (13) and Marshawn Lynch would rush for only 39 yards, I doubt I would have picked the Broncos to become charter members of the five-timers club for Super Bowl losers (hooray!).
I certainly wouldn’t have expected the Broncos to lose the game by FIVE touchdowns, the third worst scoring margin in Super Bowl history. The 43-8 final was just like all those Super Bowl blowouts I remember growing up with. And regarding those three biggest blowouts, John Elway and the Broncos have been involved in two of them (double hooray!).
Enough with me taking delight in Denver’s demise…let’s hear it for the victorious Seattle Seahawks who won the first Lombardi trophy in the franchise’s 38-year history. So who says that west coast teams struggle to win in the Eastern time zone? Over the last three seasons, the Seahawks won three games at New Jersey’s MetLife Stadium by a combined score of 104-33 and have intercepted the Manning brothers a whopping ten times.
For a franchise that honors its twelfth man, it was incredibly appropriate that the Seahawks scored in the first 12 seconds of each half. In fact, the loud Seattle fans attending the game played a role in Manny Ramirez snapping the ball 10 yards over Peyton’s head, accounting for the fastest score to start a Super Bowl.
Speaking of 12, that’s now the number of playoff losses for Peyton Manning, the most of any quarterback (passing Brett Favre). I have to disagree with Troy Aikman, because like it or not, this loss does adversely affect Peyton’s legacy. He has amazing regular season numbers, but is a very ordinary 11-12 in the postseason with just one Super Bowl win and now two career ‘pick-six’s.
Talk about saving the best for last. Percy Harvin amassed 105 total all-purpose yards this season in two games prior to SB XLVIII. Last Sunday Harvin had 137 all-purpose yards, including an 87-yard kickoff return for a touchdown to start the second half!
Also screaming Percy’s name were all the fans at Binga’s Wingas in Portland, who got to split $10,000 cash. Who would have ever thought the opening kickoff of the second half would be returned for a touchdown for the second straight year, especially when it had never occurred in any of the first 46 Super Bowls?
No one probably noticed, but Wes Welker caught eight passes for 84 yards. In three Super Bowls, Welker has now caught an impressive 26 passes for 247 yards, but has zero touchdowns and his teams have gone 0-3 in the big game. Although I enjoyed watching the Broncos lose, I sincerely hope Wes gets another chance to win a ring.
Malcolm Smith might go down as the least memorable Super Bowl MVP ever. It’s not that he wasn’t a deserving candidate (interception return for TD, fumble recovery and 10 tackles), but he’s only the third linebacker to ever receive the honor normally reserved for quarterbacks or other skill players.
Stats that I know only Mike will enjoy: Seattle’s safety was the ninth in Super Bowl history (teams scoring them have a 6-3 record) and it’s also the third straight year a safety has been scored. I hope next year it'll be Chandler Jones' turn to keep that streak going.
Bruno Mars and his band put on one helluva halftime show, but if the 1980’s called asking for their Radio Shack back, then the 90’s called and asked for the Red Hot Chili Peppers to also return to their decade of prominence. Not that I don’t like the RHCP, but their performance seemed out of place. Here’s an early nomination for AC/DC and all their football anthems to headline next year’s SB halftime show.
Speaking of the best Super Bowl commercials, aside from Radio Shack’s retro spot and the nutty Stephen Colbert, you can never go wrong with animals! Puppies and Clydesdales, dogs acting like horses and cows flirting with bulls highlighted a decent slate of ads.
Since weather never played a factor in the outcome of SB XLVIII, there is now talk of more northern outdoor venues playing host. Could Gillette Stadium ever wind up hosting the big game? Could any of us imagine what the traffic on Route 1 in Foxboro would look like? You know the locals would complain about not being able to access any of the Patriot Place stores.
In other football news, congrats to CBS for landing the first half of the NFL’s Thursday night broadcast package. But my biggest concern is how is this going to affect next fall’s season premiere of The Big Bang Theory?
Speaking of TV, I’m shedding no tears for Jay Leno’s retirement from The Tonight Show (I always preferred Letterman to Leno going back to my college days and the Late Night thrill-cam). But it’s a little hard for me to fathom that Leno’s replacement is Jimmy Fallon, known most for appearing on the field at Busch Stadium after the Red Sox won the 2004 World Series (shooting a scene for the movie Fever Pitch) and for cracking up in a large majority of the sketches he appeared in on Saturday Night Live.
A few other assorted sports thoughts…
Farewell and good riddance to David Stern, who may have popularized the NBA worldwide during his three-decade reign as commissioner, but I was never a fan of his obvious anti-Celtic bias. I will forever be convinced Stern wanted to see the Lakers overtake the Celtics in championship banners, and although it will likely happen eventually, at least it didn’t take place on his watch.
With the NBA irrelevant around these parts (sorry, Red Claws) and the NHL shut down for the next 2-3 weeks, our sporting eyes turn to Sochi for the Winter Olympics. For all the hockey talk about Canada’s chances at repeating and the pressure on Russia to win gold on its home ice, watch out for team Sweden as they try to reach the top of the medal stand for the first time in 20 years (and don’t forget I said I’ll probably never predict another sports outcome correctly). With Team USA’s lack of depth, it would be a minor miracle on ice if they struck gold at the Games.
Two Olympians seemingly destined for success based on their names alone: Australian snowboarder Torah Bright and American teenage skating sensation Gracie Gold.
First no blizzard at the Super Bowl and now 50 degree temperatures in the Russian resort city have forced Olympic officials to have snow shipped in from the nearby mountains so that the opening ceremonies don’t feel like the first games of the Spring Olympiad.
Meanwhile here in New England, every groundhog, hedgehog and other small burrowing creature all saw their shadows and proclaimed at least six more weeks of winter.
But despite all the snow and cold temps around here, spring can’t be too far away. After all, Red Sox pitchers and catchers report to Fort Myers next weekend!
Mike is on assignment this week trying to get to the bottom of the bathroom problems in Sochi--like James Bond, he will return!