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Super Bowl XLVIII revisited: In praise of the Seahawks offense on a day when the defense dominated

Super Bowl XLVIII - Seattle Seahawks v Denver Broncos Photo by Al Pereira/Getty Images

Alright, as I gather it looks as if you weren’t too eager to revisit the Seattle Seahawks’ loss to the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLIX. No problem, as today is the eight-year anniversary of the Seahawks’ memorable 43-8 beatdown of the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII in New Jersey.

The defense received all of the accolades for shutting down the greatest passing attack the league had ever seen. Just like I didn’t focus on the defense in yesterday’s post, they’re going to take a backseat today to the offense. I really want to emphasize how good the offense was and how much better they could’ve been if they’d actually gotten more snaps. I covered some of this in a post five years ago but I’m going to add some more statistics beyond just Russell Wilson.

In obvious efforts to score points, the Seahawks offense put up 27 points in six drives. The other four drives were a punt, end of half, and two turnovers on downs in a merciful display of clock-killing runs towards the very end of the 4th quarter. Seattle was incredibly efficient without hanging their entire scheme on explosive plays.

Russell Wilson was 7-of-8 for 82 yards on 3rd down passes (with six conversions), and while the long ball to Doug Baldwin was the biggest offensive play for either team, I just want to (once again) highlight how dialed in Russ was on the shorter 3rd down throws. No need to go deep, just set your feet and fire.

...Or if no one is open, go check it down to your tight end and let him get YAC to move the sticks.

Other than one bad overthrow of Zach Miller on the opening offensive play, Russell was damn near flawless. He was in rhythm, he was accurate, and if the defense was a little less dominant he’d have been in with a shout for MVP. I say this because after Marshawn Lynch’s touchdown run, Denver ran 34 of the next 36 offensive plays — Malcolm Smith’s pick-6 and Percy Harvin’s kick return score kept Wilson and company off the field.

The only clear weak spot for Seattle’s offense in XLVIII (outside of the numerous penalties by the offensive line) was actually their rushing attack. Lynch was held to just 39 yards on 15 carries and a touchdown with no receiving targets. What boosted Seattle’s rushing total was Percy Harvin taking two jet sweeps for 45 yards. The trade didn’t work out over the length of his Seahawks career, but for one night we saw the best of what Harvin had to offer and Darrell Bevell made great use of his skills even with just three offensive touches.

Perhaps my favorite series of the game was the Seahawks’ final touchdown drive. Seattle was up 36-8 in the 4th quarter and even as great as Peyton Manning is/was, this baby was over. If Pete Carroll felt like just going into time-wasting mode early I don’t think anyone would’ve really been that upset.

After Robert Turbin had a big 33-yard run called back for holding — shocker, I know — the Seahawks were faced with 1st and 20. Here are their ensuing playcalls:

Russell Wilson pass to Zach Miller for 10 yards
Russell Wilson pass to Golden Tate for 8 yards
Russell Wilson pass to Doug Baldwin for 6 yards
Russell Wilson pass to Jermaine Kearse for 24 yards
Russell Wilson touchdown pass to Doug Baldwin for 10 yards

Five straight passes and the last three were straight dropbacks. They were doing straight dropback passing up 36-8 in Denver’s red zone. That was ruthless football executed to perfection.

The Seahawks had only six explosive plays out of 60 snaps, but they were 7-12 on 3rd down and the only times they failed to achieve a first down were their final possessions at the end of both halves, at which point they just ran the ball to kill time.

What made the Seahawks passing attack click the most was the performance of the offensive line. Yes, there’s a caveat here that Von Miller was injured and didn’t play, but it’s not like we haven’t seen Seahawks OLs make superstars out of anyone on any given day. The Super Bowl was a rare instance of the Seahawks having their normal starting offensive line of Russell Okung, James Carpenter, Max Unger, J.R. Sweezy, and Breno Giacomini — at the time the most expensive in the NFL — all available at once. Together they allowed 0 sacks and 0 quarterback hits. Wilson only scrambled to run three times, which is to say he frequently got the ball out quickly and even when he had more time to throw he wasn’t under intense pressure.

A lot of what we saw on the night of February 2nd, 2014 is a model for what the Seahawks offense of today should aspire to be. Add in a more efficient rushing attack than what we saw in XLVIII and you’re pretty much there.

....Now that was a much more enjoyable look back at a Seahawks Super Bowl, wasn’t it?