Angry Birds

COV0210.LO.inddAfter dropping the BOOM on Peyton Manning and the Broncos’ offense in Super Bowl XLVIII, Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett and defensive tackle Brandon Mebane appear on this week’s cover of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (2/10/14)—on newsstands NOW. Seattle’s D held Denver to just one touchdown in a 43–8 romp at MetLife Stadium. Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning was flustered for most of the first half, throwing two interceptions. Linebacker Malcolm Smith, named MVP of the game, picked off Manning late in the first half and returned the ball 69 yards for a touchdown. The Seahawks, lead 36–0 before the Broncos finally scored on the last play of the third quarter. Senior writer S.L. Price writes, “Even if you didn’t know that the Seahawks, quietly miffed by a sudden national obsession with Manning’s “Omaha” snap count, barked the buzzword at one another as a goad, “every day, about 10 to 12 times a day,” says receiver Percy Harvin. “They showed him [Manning}, all right, and the result was as brilliant as it was brutal. Bearing all the arrogance of youth and all the rage of the underrated, on Sunday the NFL’s youngest playoff team laid waste to the 37-year-old Manning and his epic offense. The outcome was hardly a shock for the 82,529 folks bellowing in the relative, yes, warmth of MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., but the margin and manner surely were.” (Page 26)

The game got off to an odd start when Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Namath, resurrecting his famous flashy duds with an oversized fur coat, botched the coin toss at the start of the game. Then, on the first play from scrimmage, Broncos center Manny Ramirez snapped the ball past Manning, who was walking up to the line and didn’t have his hands ready. That set the tone for the trouncing the Broncos would receive for the rest of the night. Writes Price, “Not 12 seconds in, Ramirez, addled by the roaring crowd, lofted a snap over Manning’s right shoulder into the end zone for a safety. ‘There’s no explanation for it,’ Ramirez explained. None but flat-out defeat. No team ever scored faster in a Super Bowl—not even Devin Hester on his kick-return TD to open XLI—and that was only the beginning. Pressed by Seattle’s relentless front line, Manning never lost the harried, confused look of those first moments; the game once expected to be a career topper soon became a potential legacy mangler.” (Page 26)

The rest of the game never turned around for Denver’s top-ranked offense, despite a touchdown and two-point conversion late in the third quarter. Seattle’s Legion of Boom continued to wreak havoc on Manning while also shutting down running back Knowshon Moreno and the entire Broncos rushing game, holding it to just 27 yards for the night. Writes Price, “This was Seattle’s first championship since they joined the league as an expansion franchise in 1976. Before their run to the Super Bowl in 2006 (an XL loss to the Steelers), they had gone a record 21 years without a playoff win, and until this season always seemed a step behind their rivals in San Francisco. But the unique identity created in ’10 by owner Paul Allen, GM John Schneider and coach Pete Carroll—brainy, upbeat and tough—proved perfect for transforming unheralded talent into a smart and singularly fierce outfit.” (Page 28) | SI Senior Writer, S.L. Price

For a gallery of the best photos from Super Bowl XLVIII go to: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/nfl/photos/1402/si-best-photos-from-super-bowl-xlviii/

For gallery of the Top 10 Worst Super Bowls go to: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/nfl/photos/1201/10-worst-super-bowls/


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