by Ryan Meehan
The stage is set for Super Bowl XLVIII, and in this piece I’d like to take a look at how we got there by examining what happened championship weekend. So without further ado, I’m going to stop saying things like “without further ado” and get right to it.
Broncos 26, Patriots 16
New England had an amazing run with a makeshift skeleton crew of guys that excelled far beyond what anybody could have hoped. But eventually their lack of overall depth ran out, and for the majority of this game they got ran. They never quite had a grasp of the pace of the game, and Peyton Manning controlled everything. When all was said and done, Denver just had too many weapons and in 59 degree temperature, Manning didn’t have the weight of the cold weather criticisms hanging over his head. He threw for over 400 yards, and he did so because at any given moment there are several hundred thousand receivers wearing orange uniforms on the field.
This game was officiated poorly, with the all star ref teams missing several calls on both sides. However, it’s important to understand that this isn’t the reason that the Broncos won. The Broncos were hands down the better team, and they have so many different ways they can burn you. However, they are going to be banged up as hell headed into the Super Bowl. Sports Authority Field should have installed a hospital halfway through the fourth quarter, because they could have been millionaires with the way that Broncos were dropping in the last fifteen minutes of that game.
Seahawks 23, 49ers 17
The 49ers came out swinging in this one as Aldon Smith forced a Russell Wilson fumble on the Seahawks’ first play from scrimmage, but were only able to convert it into a field goal. But they would get a touchdown a couple of drives later, and Seattle couldn’t get anything working in the first half. To be honest with you, I really thought that for a home team the Doug Baldwin play was going to turn things around as far as the momentum of the game was concerned. But Russell Wilson was sacked four times in the first half and they didn’t look good as all. And they didn’t play with the sense of urgency that they had played with in the regular season. I actually heard Troy Aikman say late in the second quarter “Pete Carroll is going to stick with this running game even though it’s not working”. Pete Carroll – stubborn? Well, I never… Of course he’s stubborn, he’s Pete Carroll and he’s going to do whatever he wants to prove his point. Seattle’s biggest problem was that they couldn’t turn big plays into seven points. After both Baldwin plays (the huge catch and the kickoff return) the Seahawks curled up into a ball and died before trotting Haushcka out on to the field. But they would get it together later, eventually winning this game even though they continued to make mistakes.
But let’s be honest, the officiating ruined everything. I had thought on that last drive that San Francisco was going to get some street justice for getting screwed out of just about everything under the sun for fifty-nine and a half minutes. The idea that there is such a thing as a non-reviewable possession change call is insane. That’s another topic for another day, and San Francisco ended up getting the ball back but good Lord…Really? For some reason this doesn’t really seem like a victory for the Seahawks for me. It just seems like they didn’t lose, not that they won.
I’ll go over this more in the Super Bowl preview piece, but I did want to get something up here because I think we learned something Sunday. We learned that if you have officials who have worked all season with a certain crew, and then have them working the most important games of the year with an entirely different crew the result is going to be a poor quality product.
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