Seeeeaaaaaa are the champions, my friends.
And seeeaaaa'll grab that safety in the end (zone)
(dun dun dunnnnn)
There are no more games, no more work to be done for the 2013 season, and like baby shampoo, no more tears. The Seattle Seahawks put together 19 games to the best of their ability and finished it off as the unquestioned best team in football. It also means that it's time for me to wrap up the Advanced NFL Stats series for this season, as Field Gulls also ends their year as the best football blog in the biz!
And when does the next season start for us? Well, it already has. Obviously.
As the parade puts a finishing touch on the ultimate victory, it's time to put this season to bed and start preparing for a SEAPEAT in 2014. Before we do that though, here is the final look at the advanced stats and one more look at how the Seahawks won Super Bowl XLVIII.
To the Stat Cave.
Super Bowl 48 Win Probability Chart (via Pro-Football Reference)
The game was such that I had plenty of room to put a full-sized picture of Pete Carroll holding his much deserved Lombardi Trophy all over the second half of the Win Probability Chart. This coming despite the fact that the majority of fans had picked the Broncos (specifically had picked Peyton Manning) to win the Super Bowl, and with slightly more analysts leaning towards Denver over Seattle.
However, the best way I could put pre-Super Bowl predictions is that "analysts" picked the Broncos and "experts" picked the Seahawks.
When you removed the narrative and looked at the numbers, Seattle should have been heavy favorites from the beginning. When people look back at Super Bowl XL they think that the Pittsburgh Steelers won in some part due to the narrative of Jerome Bettis, but the truth is that the Steelers weren't your average six seed. They were probably the best team in the AFC, and maybe even better than the Seahawks. And that's what decided the Super Bowl, along with some choice bad calls, but refs alone aren't enough to sway the result of every game.
Hell, there were some bad choice calls early in this game, and that didn't stop it from being a total domination.
Facing third-and-five in the first quarter and up 5-0, Russell Wilson found Doug Baldwin for 37 yards and setup first-and-goal from the six. This was worth better than an 11-percent swing in Seattle's favor, but Max Unger was called for holding on the next play and the Seahawks settled for a field goal. So, we are not going just with win percentage on this one when looking for the Big Play! in the biggest game in franchise history.
How can you even decide on one play? I think I popped a button on my jorts at least six or seven times during this game.
- The first-play safety that set the tone for what was about to transpire, thereby negating the fact that Denver had the first chance to score after the Seahawks won the coin toss and elected to kick and receive in the second half. They were basically now going to receive to open both halves. In the Super Bowl. (And if Trindon Holliday takes a knee on the kickoff, as he should have, is it even a safety?)
- The Percy Harvin 30-yard end-around on Seattle's second play from scrimmage, which basically said, "Oh this little guy? I wouldn't worry about this little guy."
- The Kam Chancellor "Move bitch, get out the way" hit on Demaryius Thomas that set the tone for what style of defense the Broncos were about to face. A defense unlike any other.
- Chancellor going duck hunting for the first pick of the game. (Tip, duck, who cares? Manning had two passes batted at the line of scrimmage during the game, Wilson didn't have a single batted pass in the postseason. In fact, his six batted passes during the regular season was third-fewest in the NFL.)
- Down by 15 points, the Broncos were driving in the second quarter, but the Seahawks were making them pay for it. They had run 15 plays on a single drive but had only reached the Seahawks 35-yard line with third-and-13 to go.
1-2-3, 1-2-3, 1-2-3, 1-2-3... Manning could only get a first down on a third-down conversion, but was unable to move the ball quickly and efficiently against the Seattle defense. However, if he could convert here and score a touchdown, it would still only be a one-possession game. Even if they were being outplayed in nearly every facet of the game. Unfortunately for Manning, the pressure was broughten like it was being led by Kirsten Dunst and his arm was hit just as he was throwing another pass and it looked like we were playing Flyer's Up in the biggest game of the year.
Malcolm Smith found it, got 500 points, and returned it 69 yards. That was essentially the nail in the coffin, putting the Seahawks up by 22. Remember, when Seattle made their 21-point comeback against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this season, it was their biggest comeback in franchise history.
The Seahawks were about 98% to win with over 33 minutes left to play. However, that is not "my" Big Play. (Choose your own, play at home.)
- If the Denver defense could make a stop on the first drive of the second half, Manning could start the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history. It was only three touchdowns after all, and the Broncos had scored three touchdowns in all but one game this year.
Except that now it was four touchdowns.
Harvin's 87-yard kickoff return could have been a near-disaster, but the truth is that any time you throw off the rhythm of the coverage team that much, you're in trouble of the returner gets a handle on the football. Once Harvin grasped it and started to go, it was too late. His speed allowed him to get behind the coverage team before they had known what hit them.
I don't think a player like Manning ever gives up, but he knew. They all knew. After such a successful season, the Denver Broncos knew that they had to go out there and play 30 minutes of pointless football. It sucked the soul out of the offense, defense, and special teams units, the coaching staff too probably. You spent all of a 45-minute halftime thinking of how you can complete this comeback and then... and then it's over.
On the next drive, the Broncos ran it on third-and-10 despite being down 22 points, and then punted it from Seahawks territory even though it seemed like they should be in four-down mode. Harvin pulled the "Finish Him!" move and that was it.
This is the scary x-factor on special teams that Seattle didn't have this year that they should have in 2014. What?
"Cool" and "Fool" of the Week (EPA, WPA from Advanced NFL Stats)
I think Smith was every bit deserving of Super Bowl MVP, he had the best game of his career. Not just because he had a couple big plays in the biggest game, but literally this was the best performance he has had in four years with the team. But it's not like he was the only one that had a great game -- that's how you win by 35 points. There were a lot of "Cool Dudes" on Sunday.
Wilson was incredible. Cool, calm, and collected, Wilson had his best game since playing the Saints on Monday night in Week 13, by almost any stat you measure. From WPA to DVOA to DYAR, he was on point. The only reason he didn't win MVP was because his scoring plays came in the second half of the game, but it's important to note that Wilson is not Trent Dilfer or Brad Johnson.
He's an A-1 grade super stud.
People who think otherwise aren't good at football analysis and that's a lot of people, unfortunately. But we will delve into Wilson more later. He was so "cool" on Sunday, but not the coolest.
Harvin is on another level as far as athleticism is concerned. His end-around on the first drive was mind-blowing, to the point where you start to realize how valuable this guy is when healthy. They always say that it's the "speed of the game" the catches rookies off guard when they make the transition from college to the pros, but in the case of Harvin, it seems like he's still surprising players that have been in the league for years.
He belongs on some level of football even above the NFL. He transcends the "speed of the game."
Cliff Avril has been supremely underrated this year, even if we have recognized him as The King of the Strick. It's more than that. Avril had seven total pressures in the game (two QB hits, five hurries) which was easily the most of any defensive end in the Super Bowl. Chris Clemons was second, with five, while Shaun Phillips and Robert Ayers of Denver combined for three.
Avril killed it, as did the pass rush in general.
Last weekend I had pointed out that Manning was the least-pressured QB in the NFL while Wilson was the most pressured. In the Super Bowl, Manning was pressured on 32% of his dropbacks (22.7% in regular season) while Wilson was pressured just 14.8% of the time (43.8% in the regular season.) Manning was 8-of-15 with two interceptions while under pressure.
Wilson only had to go 1-of-3 when the Broncos brought pressure.
There was a lot of talk about how Denver's receivers were better than Seattle's but that didn't show in this game, did it? Doug Baldwin caught 5-of-5 targets, Jermaine Kearse caught 4-of-5, and Golden Tate caught 3-of-4. Demaryius Thomas may have set a Super Bowl record with 13 catches, but that came on 17 targets and just 6.6 yards per target.
Baldwin and Kearse both had 13+ yards per target. Wilson had a perfect 158.3 passer rating when throwing to those two players.
But who is the coolest?
"Cool" of the Week - Christian Napoleon "Kam" Chancellor
His interception may have been a "gimme" (there is no such thing in the NFL, of course) but his intimidation factor and ballskills made him the most valuable player for this team during the entire postseason. He finished the game with five tackles, four assists, six "successful plays", two passes defensed and an interception.
Pro Football Focus gave him the highest postseason grade of any safety in the postseason by an enormous margin, and also graded him the highest both in coverage and against the run. He led all safeties in tackles (21), assists (8), stops (10), interceptions (2, tied with Husain Abdullah of the Chiefs), passes defensed (3, tied with Darrell Stuckey of the Chargers), and though he was thrown at more than any other safety (19 times) opposing quarterbacks had a passer rating of 24.6 on those attempts.
The best news of all: Unlike Earl Thomas and Richard Sherman, we don't have to worry about his contract situation. He is signed for another four years.
"Fool" of the Week - Analysts that ignored the facts
Over at ESPN, 27 experts picked Denver, compared to just 11 for Seattle. That's not unusual. Many people went with the Manning narrative over the Seahawks reality and though this game certainly could have gone another way, the final result shows just how far ahead Seattle is. That's a testament to the NFC and how difficult the gauntlet is to get through.
There aren't any defenses in the AFC that match up with the likes of Seattle, San Francisco, Arizona, Carolina, and even the New York Giants might have had a better defense than any AFC team. Next season, Manning and the Broncos will get to face three of those teams when West meets West.
If he can get to 50 touchdowns and 5,400 yards next year, with those four teams on the schedule, then it will really be impressive. Not that it wasn't impressive this year, but at least this time the offense won't face the 30th-toughest schedule in the league again.
Put My Heart in a Blender One More Time: DVOA Wrap-Up (via Football Outsiders)
The bigger question is not even whether this was the most dominating victory of the 2013 season but whether this was the most dominating Super Bowl victory ever. According to DVOA ratings, not quite, but it is so close that tiny future changes in the formula might change things. Right now, going back to 1989, the highest single-game DVOA for the Super Bowl belongs to the 2000 Ravens at 127.5% (34-7 win over the Giants), followed by the 1989 49ers at 126.6% (55-10 win over the Broncos), and then the Seahawks.
Super Bowl History Stats
A shutout would have been sweet, and the first in Super Bowl history, but how can we complain with a victory that dominating? The eight points allowed were the fewest since the 2000 Baltimore Ravens allowed seven to the New York Giants. It is only the third time since 1975 that a team allowed single digits.
Did I mention that people were calling the Broncos offense the best ever?
The 43 points scored were the most since the 2002 Buccaneers scored 48, and the second-most since the '94 49ers scored 49. What the what the?
The 22-point halftime lead was the biggest ever in a Super Bowl.
It was the 12th time a team didn't get sacked in Super Bowl history. The 12th time a team was shutout at half (Broncos were also shutout at half against the Cowboys in Super Bowl XII).
It was the third time in Super Bowl history that a team only punted one time.
It was the quickest score in Super Bowl history and the longest amount of time that a team has led the Super Bowl (59 minutes, 48 seconds) and it was the most watched event in television history.
We will probably never get to definitively say that a team is the "best team of all time" but the 2013 Seattle Seahawks are certainly a part of that conversation now. Or at least, in 5-10 years after we've had a chance to process what just happened.
Russell Wilson Stats Update
In the Super Bowl: 18-of-25, 208 yards, two touchdowns, no interceptions, three rushes for 26 yards, 123.1 rating, 151 DYAR, one ring.
Wilson posted the ninth-highest passer rating in Super Bowl history, but they really weren't asking him to do much. Just convert third downs, sustain drives, run the clock, and finish drives. That's what he did and that's why SEA are the champions, my friend.
The only Super Bowl quarterback since the 2002 realignment to have fewer than 25 pass attempts was Ben Roethlisberger in XL (21 attempts.)
Wilson now has as many playoff wins as Philip Rivers, Colin Kaepernick, Mark Sanchez, Rich Gannon. He only has one fewer than Aaron Rodgers, Dan Marino, Steve McNair, Matt Hasselbeck, Mark Rypien, and Mark Brunell. He has more wins than Warren Moon (had only
one three), Michael Vick, Drew Bledsoe, Jeff Garcia, Vinny Testaverde, Randall Cunningham and... Jim Harbaugh.
Wilson is fourth in playoff win probability added per game for quarterbacks.
Wilson's performance doesn't come out as historic in any way, really, but as long as it didn't come out historic in a Rich Gannon way, that's fine. He probably only has about 15 more years to continue to build on his Super Bowl resume. That's all.
Speaking of which...
Wilson versus Super Bowl history:
Forget about Broadway Joe, what about Golden Gate Joe? Joe Montana went 13-3 and won his first Super Bowl when he was 25, which can all be said about Wilson as well. Though Montana's overall numbers look worse than Wilson's at this time, that's not the best way to compare quarterbacks from different eras.
(And don't complain to me about comparing Wilson to Montana. I don't want to hear anyone say "You can't compare Russell Wilson to Joe Montana after two years, you jackwad!" A) Yes, I can. I can do anything I want. You and I both have the freedom to compare Mark Sanchez to a Highlights Magazine if we feel like it. Nobody can stop you. B) I'm comparing Wilson at this stage of his career to Montana at this stage in his career, not their whole careers against one another.)
Here is a look at Wilson as compared to the league average for quarterbacks. A score of 100 would be average:
Here is Montana:
Wilson has a higher Y/A+ but they are identical against league average in NY/A, which takes into account yards, attempts, touchdowns, and interceptions. Montana had 19 touchdowns and 12 interceptions in 1981. Montana was better in completing his pass attempts, Wilson was better at scoring touchdowns, Montana was better at avoiding interceptions.
He also has a slight edge in passer rating.
However, for all intents and purposes, Montana and Wilson come out pretty neck-and-neck at age 25. If Wilson can match him all the way up until he's 35, that would be cool because that would mean four Super Bowl championships.
In Montana's first Super Bowl, he was 14-of-22 for 157 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions, and also rushed for a score.
Montana, Roethlisberger, Wilson, Tom Brady and Kurt Warner are the only players to win a Super Bowl within their first three seasons. Out of those five players, Montana won four rings, Roethlisberger has two with a third appearance, Brady had three with two more appearances, and Warner had two more appearances. That bodes pretty well for the future of Seattle and Wilson.
Those four players had 10 championships and 15 Super Bowl appearances.
What would have happened if Wilson had lost? The players to make a Super Bowl in their first three years and lose are Jake Delhomme, Colin Kaepernick, Dan Marino, Vince Ferragamo and Joe Kapp.
Kapp threw 17 interceptions the year after he went to the Super Bowl and was out of the league. Ferragamo never made the Super Bowl again. Delhomme never returned. Marino never won a Super Bowl and never even won more than one postseason game in any of the next 15 seasons of his career. Kaepernick will likely never be in another Super Bowl or playoffs again, sources* tell me.
*haha. But seriously...
Those that won the Super Bowl had very successful postseason careers after that, those that didn't did not.
Which reminds me... The Seattle Seahawks just won the Super Bowl!!!
The best advanced stat of all: 43-8