Super Bowl XLVIII: Seahawks' defense rises to the occasion, dominates league's best offense

Jeff Gross

The Denver Broncos had the best offense in the NFL this season. The Seattle Seahawks shut them down completely to win Super Bowl XLVIII.

SB Nation 2014 NFL Playoff Coverage

The Seattle Seahawks put up the kind of points that make it seem like Russell Wilson and the offense demolished the Denver Broncos defense. They're now in possession of the third-biggest blowout win in Super Bowl history, with a 43-8 victory. But it was Seattle's defense that really sealed this game.

Russell Wilson managed 206 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions, and his receiver trio of Doug Baldwin, Jermaine Kearse and Percy Harvin were effective. They were exactly as productive as they needed to be, but if the Seattle defense hadn't stepped up to do what they did, who knows where things would have ended up?

Denver finished the regular season with the most yardage and points scored of any offense in NFL history. It was an offensive powerhouse that simply drowned out any semblance of the opposing team's offense with touchdown after touchdown. The Broncos put together the No. 1 passing offense ever, with 340.3 passing yards per game on average.

Quarterback Peyton Manning broke the single season record for passing yards with 5,477 and touchdowns with a whopping 55. That was all with just 10 interceptions. That's a touchdown rate of 8.3 percent, an interception rate of 1.5 percent and a completion rate of 68.3 percent. Then there was running back Knowshon Moreno, who put up 1,038 yards and 10 touchdowns on the ground.

In short, the Broncos knew how to play some offense. Coming into this game, Seattle was riding one of the top defenses in the NFL. The Seahawks matched Denver's top pass offense with the league's best pass defense, the so-called "Legion of Boom." They allowed just 172.0 yards per game on average over the course of the regular season.

Richard Sherman led that group with eight interceptions in the regular season, and Seattle had 28 interceptions total. The Seahawks were incredibly effective against the pass, and had the No. 7 rush defense to help as well.

In the Super Bowl, it was all about that defense. The game started with a safety, and it was all downhill for the Broncos from there. As noted, the Seahawks did manage two field goals and three touchdowns on offense, but special teams also contributed one and the defense put up nine points of its own.

Seven of those points came when Malcolm Smith took an interception back to the house for 69 yards. Smith also had a fumble recovery and multiple passes defensed. He earned MVP honors for his efforts, just the third linebacker to ever do so.

In the end, Manning attempted 49 passes, completing 34 of them with a touchdown. But Manning had two interceptions, and so many drives stalled out at the absolute worst time. Seattle did an excellent job of pressuring Manning into making poor throws and, more importantly, the Seahawks kept all of the plays in front of them.

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Denver was held to just 27 yards rushing, limiting Moreno to 17 yards off of five carries. The Broncos made it clear early on that they were going to abandon the run. About the only good performance for Denver was the 13-catch, 118-yard performance from Demaryius Thomas, who Manning targeted a whopping 18 times.

Seattle forced Denver to a 6-of-13 mark on third down and stopped all three of the Broncos' fourth-down conversion attempts. Denver ultimately had four turnovers to Seattle's zero.

The Seahawks have the best pass defense in the NFL, and what most believe is the top defense. Up against the league's most productive offense, they rose to the occasion and got the job done. They went above and beyond what was expected. It was always supposed to be a tough game for Manning, but this defensive performance was otherworldly.

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