GAME: #1 Denver Broncos (13-3, 1st AFC West) vs. #1 Seattle Seahawks (13-3, 1st, NFC West). TYPE. Super Bowl. WHEN: Sunday, 3:30 p.m., MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ. MEETING: 54th (Denver leads 34-19). STREAKS: Broncos W 4; Seahawks W 3. HEAD COACHES: John Fox, Denver; Pete Carroll, Seattle. LINE: Broncos by 3. TV: FOX. RADIO: ESPN 710 AM, KIRO 97.3 FM.
It’s difficult to imagine a more compelling Super Bowl matchup than the Seahawks vs. the Broncos. It marks the first time since the New York Giants defeated Buffalo 20-19 following the 1990 season that the NFL’s top-ranked offense (Denver) will face the top-ranked defense (Seattle) and only the second time in 20 years that a pair of No. 1 seeds will battle for the Vince Lombardi Trophy.
Oddsmakers have installed the AFC champion Broncos as a three-point favorite largely, if not exclusively, because of Peyton Manning, coming off a regular season in which he became the first quarterback in history to exceed 5,000 yards passing (5,477) and 50 touchdowns (55).
“To have the kind of season he’s had to this point, I think is unprecedented,” said Broncos coach John Fox, the sixth head man in league history to take two different teams to the Super Bowl (Carolina, 2003).
“Peyton’s been extraordinary,” added Seattle’s Pete Carroll, who can join Barry Switzer and Jimmy Johnson as the only men to win a national collegiate championship and a Super Bowl. “People couldn’t even dream to have the year that Peyton’s had with all the numbers he’s put up. We’re up against it.”
Manning’s Broncos averaged 37.9 points per game and will face a Seahawk defense that allowed a league-best 14.4. In the six Super Bowls that matched the No. 1 offense vs. the No. 1 defense, the defense prevailed five times. But it’s safe to say none of those defenses faced a quarterback with Manning’s extraordinary skill.
“What he does is just fabulous,” said Seahawks offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell.
Manning is not only accurate, he spreads the ball around. Ten Broncos caught passes this season and eight scored touchdowns, led by Demaryius Thomas’s 14, Julius Thomas’s 12 and Erick Decker’s 11. Manning is also difficult to sack — 18 times to Russell Wilson’s 44 — because he gets rid of the ball so quickly. Manning took a league-shortest 2.36 seconds to throw the ball vs. Wilson’s league-longest 3.18.
“Manning does do a good job at getting rid of the ball fast,” said safety Earl Thomas. “They run a lot of timing routes so it is kind of hard to get the pressure on him, but our defensive line does a great job and they’re dogs up front, savages, and I think they will get to him.
“With Manning, it’s best to just line up and do what you do,” said Thomas. “You can’t be a genie and think what he’s thinking. Obviously, you don’t know what’s coming. That’s why you just be ready for anything.”
While Manning will be gunning for his second Vince Lombardi Trophy (he won with Indianapolis in 2006), the Seahawks are the first team since the 1990 Bills to not have a player with Super Bowl experience on their roster.
But led by the “Legion of Boom,” the Seahawks topped the NFL in fewest yards allowed, forced a league-high 39 turnovers and ranked eighth in sacks with 44.
“They are as good as advertised,” Manning said after watching the Seahawks on film. “Probably one of the more impressive things is how they play together as a unit.”
Seattle will have an edge if it can unleash Marshawn Lynch and reduce Manning’s opportunities. WR Percy Harvin, injured much of the year, will be a wild card for the Seahawks, who will probably try to take advantage of Denver’s weakest unit, its secondary.
“Obviously, he’s a deep threat and if they throw him a quick screen, he makes one guy miss and he’s out,” Thomas said of Harvin. “You see him in that one game he had against Minnesota, you see how much he brought everybody up to their feet. He can just energize the whole stadium. I know it gives me a lift when you see a guy that explosive. He plays faster than everybody out there. It’s fun to watch.”
Another thing to watch: The Seahawks largely avoided running the read option this season because, for the most part, they didn’t need it. It would not be a surprise to see the Seahawks use it against Denver.
Seattle and Denver faced five common opponents this season: New York Giants, Jacksonville, Indianapolis, Houston and Tennessee. Denver went 4-1 against the five, as did the Seahawks. Both clubs lost to Indianapolis, Denver by six points (39-33), Seattle by six (34-28). Denver outscored the five 197-122, Seattle outscored the five 139-84.
SERIES: Dates to Oct. 2, 1977, when the Broncos winning 24-13 in the Kingdome. Craig Morton threw for 181 yards and a touchdown for Denver and running back David Sims threw a 43-yard TD pass to Steve Largent for Seattle. Seahawks and Broncos last met Sept. 19, 2010, Denver winning 31-14 as Kyle Orton threw two touchdown passes. Matt Hasselbeck tossed an 11-yard TD to Ben Obomanu and ran 20 yards for another score.
Seahawks (regular season): Scored 417 points (26.1 per game), ranking 8th; allowed 231 points (14.4 per game),1st; differential of +186 points ranks 2nd. Broncos: Scored 606 points (37.9), ranked 1st; allowed 399 (24.9), 22nd; differential of +207 points ranks 1st.
SEAHAWKS HEAD COACH: Pete Carroll (72-57 career, 39-26 Seattle) is in his fourth season. In 2010, he directed Seattle to the NFC West title, the Seahawks becoming the first team in NFL history to win a division with a losing (7-9) record. Prior to joining the Seahawks, Carroll served as head coach at Southern California, where his Trojans won seven Pac-10 titles and two national championships.
SEAHAWKS QUARTERBACKS: During the regular season, Russell Wilson completed 257 of 407 passes for 3,357 yards, 26 TDs and 9 interceptions for a passer rating of 101.2. In Seattle’s playoff win over New Orleans, he was 9 of 18 for 103 yards, no TDs and no INTs. He threw for 215 yards, 1 TD and no INTs in the NFC title-game win over San Francisco. His game-by-game lines:
- At Carolina, 25 of 33, 320 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT, 115.7 rating.
- Vs. San Francisco, 8 of 19, 142 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT, 63.9.
- Vs. Jacksonville, 14 of 21, 202 yards, 4 TDs, 1 INT, 117.5.
- At Houston, 12 of 23, 123 yards, 0 TDs, 1 INT, 48.7.
- At Indianapolis, 15 of 31, 210 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT, 78.7.
- Vs. Tennessee, 23 of 31, 257 yards, 0 TDs, 0 INTs, 98.5.
- At Arizona, 18 of 28, 235 yards, 3 TDs, 0 INTs, 122.1.
- At St. Louis, 10 of 18, 139 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INTs, 117.6.
- Vs. Tampa Bay, 19 of 26, 217 yards, 2 TDs, 2 INTs, 91.3.
- At Atlanta, 19 of 26 for 287 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INTs, 134.6.
- Vs. Minnesota, 13 of 18, 230 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INTs, 151.4.
- Vs. New Orleans, 22 of 30 for 310 yards, 3 TDs, 0 INTs, 139.6.
- At San Francisco, 15 of 25, 199 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT, 81.9.
- At NY Giants, 18 of 27 for 206 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT, 83.6.
- Vs. Arizona, 11 of 27, 108 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT, 49.6.
- Vs. St. Louis, 15 of 23, 172 yards, 1 TD, 0 INTs, 102.1.
- Vs. New Orleans, 9 of 18, 103 yards, 0 TDs, 0 INTs, 67.6.
- Vs. San Francisco, 16 of 25, 215 yards, 1 TD, 0 INTs, 104.6.
Tarvaris Jackson vs. Jacksonville, 7 of 8, 129 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT, 158.3 rating; at Indianapolis, no statistics; vs. Minnesota, 1 of 3, 6 yards, 0 TDs, 0 INTs, 42.4 rating; at NY Giants, 2 of 2, 16 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT, 100.0 rating.
SEAHAWKS STATS / NOTES
- REGULAR SEASON SUMMARY: Record: 13-3-0. Home: 7-1. Road: 6-2. Vs. NFC: 10-2. Vs. AFC: 3-1. Vs. NFC East: 1-0. Vs. NFC North: 1-0. Vs. NFC South: 4-0. Vs. NFC West: 3-3. Points For: 417 (26.1). Points Against: 231 (14.4).
- 2013 NFL RANKS: Scoring Offense — 26.1 (T8); Total Offense — 339.0 (17th); Rushing Offense — 136.8 (4th); Passing Offense — 202.3 (26th); Scoring Defense — 14.4 (1st); Total Defense — 273.6 (1st); Rushing Defense — 101.6 (T7); Passing Defense — 172.0 (1st); Turnover Differential — +20 (1st).
- Eighth time in 11 seasons that Seattle has qualified for the postseason. Seahawks are 11-12 all-time in the playoffs.
- Have won 20 of their last 24 regular-season games and 29 of 40 dating to the final half of the 2011 season.
- Point differential of +186 (regular season) ranks second in the NFL, first in NFC.
- 29-11 since the final half of the 2011 season. In those 11 losses, the average margin of victory for opponents has been 4.5 points.
- 66-30 at home since 2002. Only Green Bay (65-29-1) has a comparable home record during that span.
- Seattle’s defense ranks No. 1 in passing yards allowed and No. 1 in interceptions, a feat that has been accomplished just twice since the 1970 merger with both previous teams reaching the Super Bowl, Miami in 1982 (lost) and Tampa Bay in 2002 (won).
- 77 pass plays of 16 or more yards during regular season and 49 running plays of 12 or more. With 126 explosive plays, the Seahawks ranked No. 6 in the NFL behind Philadelphia’s 165, Detroit’s 146, Denver’s 134, Green Bay’s 129 and New Orleans’ 128.
- Seahawks led the NFL in fewest explosive plays allowed, 82.
- +20 in turnover differential (37 takeaways, 19 giveaways) ranked first in the NFL.
- Russell Wilson has the second-highest passer rating (107.1) in the NFL since Week 9 of the 2012 season.
- Wilson had 14 consecutive wins at home before the loss to Arizona. The NFL record for most home wins to start a career is 16 by Danny White of Dallas in 1980-81. Kurt Warner (1999-01) had 15. Also on the list: Marc Bulger (14, 2002-04), Doug Flutie (10, 1988-98), Philip Rivers (9, 2006-07).
- Over his past 24 regular-season starts, Wilson is 20-4. He has exceeded a 100 passer rating 15 times.
- Wilson has nine fourth-quarter comebacks, the most recent against Tampa Bay Nov. 3.
- Wilson has 24 wins in his first two seasons, the top mark in NFL history by a player over that span.
- Wilson’s record as a starting quarterback is 24-8, a winning percentage of .750. Among quarterbacks with a minimum of 15 starts, only Tom Brady has a better mark, .772 (146-43).
- Only three second-year quarterbacks since 1970 have a passer rating above 100.0: Kurt Warner (1999), 109.2; Dan Marino (1984), 108.9; and Wilson (101.2).
- Wilson tossed 52 touchdowns in his first two seasons, tied with Peyton Manning for second most in NFL history. Dan Marino had 68.
- Marshawn Lynch leads the NFL with 20 100-yard game games since 2011 and has rushed for 100 or more in 20 of his last 41. The 19 100-yard games rank first in the NFL over that span; Adrian Peterson 18.
- Since Week 9 of 2012, Lynch has rushed for 3,788 yards and 32 touchdowns, both totals leading the NFL (Adrian Peterson 3,538 yards, 25 TDs).
- Lynch scored 14 TDs in 2013, 12 rush, two receive.
- Lynch rushed for 140 yards in the 23-15 win over the Saints, setting a Seahawks single-game postseason record. Lynch owns three of the top four rushing totals in Seattle playoff history: 140 yards vs. New Orleans Jan. 11, 2014; 132 yards at Washington Jan. 6, 2013; 131 yards vs. New Orleans Jan. 8, 2011.
- Seattle limited opposing quarterbacks to a 63.4 passer rating during the regular season, lowest in the NFL.
- Richard Sherman has picked off 20 passes since 2011, most in the NFL. His eight picks this year led the NFL. Sherman has also defensed 60 passes since 2011, most in the NFL.
- Seattle and Denver were members of the AFC West for 25 seasons before the Seahawks switched to the NFC West in 2002.
SEAHAWKS 2013 OFFENSIVE LEADERS
SEAHAWKS 2013 DEFENSIVE LEADERS
|Tackles||Wagner 119, Thomas 100, Chancellor 93|
|Sacks||Bennett 8.5, Avril 8.0, McDonald 5.5|
|Quarterback Hits||Bennett 25, Averill 14, McDonald 13|
|Interceptions||Sherman 8, Thomas 5, Maxwell 4|
|Passes Defensed||Sherman 19, Maxwell 12, Browner 10|
|Forced Fumbles||Avril 5, Thomas 2|
|Fumbles Recovered||Chancellor, Mebane, McDaniel, Wright 1|
BRONCOS NOTES: In the regular season, defeated Baltimore (49-27), New York Giants (41-23), Oakland (37-21, 34-14), Philadelphia (52-20), Dallas (51-48), Jacksonville (35-19), Washington (45-21), San Diego (28-20), Kansas City (27-17, 35-28), Tennessee (51-28) and Houston (37-13), and lost to Indianapolis (39-33), New England (34-31) and San Diego (27-20). In the postseason, defeated San Diego (24-17) and New England (26-16) . . . Denver ranks 1st in scoring offense (37.9), 15th in rushing (117.1), 1st in passing (340.3), 22nd in scoring defense (24.9), 19th in total defense (356.0), T7 in rushing defense (101.6), 27th in pass defense (254.4) and T14 in turnover differential (0) . . . Knowshon Moreno led the Broncos in rushing with 1,038 yards and 10 TDs while Montee Ball had 559 yards and 4 TDs . . . Denver features two 1,000-yard receivers in Demaryius Thomas (1,430 yards, 14 TDs) and Eric Decker (1,288 yards, 11 TDs). Wes Welker caught 73 passes and scored 10 TDs.
BRONCOS QUARTERBACKS: Peyton Manning completed 450 of 659 passes for 5,477 yards, 55 touchdowns and 10 interceptions for a passer rating of 115.1. He produced four, 400-yard games and eight others above 300 yards. Manning threw seven touchdown passes against the Baltimore Ravens, five against Kansas City and four in a game seven times.
2013-14 KEY DATES: Feb. 2, 2014 — Super Bowl XLVIII, MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ.; Feb. 18-25, 2012 — Scouting combine, Indianapolis; March 11, 2014 — Free agency begins; May 8-10, 2014 — NFL draft.
NFC West Standings
|Seattle||13-3-0||3-3-0||Sun, vs. Denver|
|S. Francisco||12-4-0||5-1-0||Season Complete|
|St. Louis||7-9-0||1-5-0||Season Complete|
2013 Seahawks Preseason Schedule
|8/8/13||at San Diego||7 p.m.||NFLN||W||31-10||1-0|
|8/17/13||vs. Denver||7 p.m.||NFLN||W||40-10||2-0|
|8/23/13||at Green Bay||5 p.m.||CBS||W||17-10||3-0|
|8/29/13||vs. Oakland||7 p.m.||Fox||W||22-6||4-0|
2013 Seahawks Regular-Season Schedule
|9/8/13||at Carolina||10 a.m.||FOX||W||12-7||1-0|
|9/15/13||vs. SF||5:30 p.m.||NBC||W||29-3||2-0|
|9/22/13||vs. JAX||1:25 p.m.||CBS||W||45-17||3-0|
|9/29/13||at Texans||10 a.m.||FOX||W||23-20||4-0|
|10/6/13||at Indy||10 a.m.||FOX||L||34-28||4-1|
|10/13/13||vs. Tenn||1:05 p.m.||CBS||W||20-13||5-1|
|10/17/13||at Arizona||5:25 p.m.||NFLN||W||34-22||6-1|
|10/28/12||at StL||5:40 p.m.||ESPN||W||14-9||7-1|
|11/3/13||vs. Tampa||1:05 p.m.||FOX||W||27-24||8-1|
|11/10/13||at Atlanta||10 a.m.||FOX||W||33-10||9-1|
|11/17/13||vs. Minn||1:25 p.m.||FOX||W||41-20||10-1|
|12/2/13||VS. NO||5:40 p.m.||ESPN||W||34-7||11-1|
|12/8/12||at SF||1:25 p.m.||FOX||L||19-17||11-2|
|12/15/13||at NYG||10 a.m.||FOX||W||23-0||12-2|
|12/22/13||vs. Ariz||1:05 p.m.||FOX||L||17-10||12-3|
|12/29/13||vs. STL||1:25 p.m.||FOX||W||27-9||13-3|
|1/4/14||vs. NO||1:35 p.m.||FOX||W||23-15||14-3|
|1/19/14||vs. SF||3:35 p.m.||FOX||W||23-17||15-3|