Sweet Play of the Super Bowl: Seattle leading 5-0 late in the first quarter, the Bluish Men Group faced third-and-5 on the Denver 43. Of course, Denver might have trouble moving the ball against the Seahawks defense. But could Seattle move the ball against the Denver defense?
The Seahawks set two men left, including undrafted Doug Baldwin, a finalist for TMQ's Non-QB/Non-RB MVP. In "combo" moves, the first guy always sets the pick and the second guy always is the target. Defenders should know this. A receiver cut in front of Baldwin and set a pick. Baldwin did a quick stutter, then ran an "up" for a 37-yard gain, roaring past the Denver defense like it wasn't there. Though the Hawks were held to a field goal on the possession, this down set an aggressive tone for Seattle's offense. It sent the message that not only was the Seattle defense potent, the Seattle offense could cause problems too. The victors would end the night with four offensive downs longer than any gain recorded by Denver's offense -- plays of 37, 30, 24 and 23 yards. These gains mattered almost as much as the defensive stops.
Sour Play of the Super Bowl: Denver's record-setting offense opened the game with a goofy safety, but the Broncos' defense held Seattle to a field goal following the free kick. So it's Bluish Men Group by 5-0. No problem for the highest scoring team in NFL annals. Denver took possession, advanced to fourth-and-2 on its 43 -- and punted. What good is the highest-scoring offense in NFL history if the Broncos are afraid to try on fourth-and-short from midfield?
Highlight reels will show Seattle's touchdowns on interception and kickoff returns -- but to TMQ, this was the pivotal moment of the contest. Facing the league's best defense, Denver needed to set an aggressive tone. Instead the Broncos set a passive, retreating tone.
Sweet 'N' Sour Play: Seattle leading 8-0 at the end of the first quarter, Denver faced second-and-5 and prepared to quick-snap. Seattle strong safety Kam Chancellor, who often plays "low" but almost never lines up "high" as the free safety, came down to the line of scrimmage on Peyton Manning's left. Chancellor seemed to read a key, because Manning handed off for a run toward where Chancellor was now standing. Loss of two.
Now Denver faced third-and-7. This time free safety Earl Thomas comes to the line of scrimmage to blitz: one of Seattle's two first-half blitzes is about to happen. Chancellor drops back into a high Cover 1 position, as if he were the free safety. Six men rush, Manning is hit as he releases, and the pass goes directly to Chancellor for Denver's first of many turnovers. The play caused an electric reaction in the stands, people seeming to think. "Peyton is going to self-destruct again!" My reaction was that Manning had no idea Chancellor would be where he was. The play showed Seattle's game plan was superior to Denver's.
Though it is hard to argue with the Super Bowl MVP going to a linebacker rather than a quarterback or running back -- Seattle's Malcolm Smith, 10 tackles and a pick-six, hoisted the award -- Chancellor got TMQ's MVP vote. His early interception, his pick, nine tackles, two passes defensed, including a jarring legal hit that caused Wes Welker to drop what would have been an important completion, and a bone-jarring early tackle on Demaryius Thomas, set Seattle's physical tone.