In case you forgot, defense wins and success is fleeting

In case you forgot, defense wins and success is fleeting
February 3, 2014, 8:15 pm
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The goldfish. The common housefly. Squirrels. Observers of the NFL.
 
Of all Earth’s creatures, these are among the ones possessing the shortest memories.
 
It’s the day after SB48. Carcasses of Broncos fans have been scraped from the Seacaucus train station platform.
 
There is much to discuss.
 
1. How you’ll never/always drink Coke because of that commercial.

2. How much you really, really enjoyed Bruno Mars . . . really!

3. How the Red Hot Chili Peppers were just skeevy and they should have just let Bruno do the whole thing. Creeps.

4. That that snow just missed snowing on the Super Bowl!! By what, like HOURS!?

5. That nobody could have SEEN Peyton Manning and the league’s most historically historic offense getting shut down in The Big Game.

6. The reality that the Seattle Seahawks may never lose again.

We’ll focus our short attention span on the final two items.
 
Sunday was the sixth time the No. 1 offense and No. 1 defense have met in the Super Bowl. The No. 1 defense won every matchup (including Sunday’s) except the Super Bowl following the 1989 season when Joe Montana’s 49ers ripped Denver’s stingy defense for a 55-10 win.
 
That comes with a caveat. In that pre-free agency time, the AFC was in the midst of losing 13 straight Super Bowls. The two conferences were not even close in terms of toughness.
 
Since 2000, we have Super Bowl after Super Bowl in which the team with the more physical defense has won beginning with the Ravens in 2000. Following Baltimore, the Patriots, Bucs, Patriots, Patriots, Giants, Saints, Steelers and Giants have beaten teams with defenses that aren’t as punishing.
 
The exceptions – in my opinion – would be last year’s Super Bowl when the Niners were probably a better defense than Baltimore, the 2006 Colts beating the Bears (although the Colts defense in the playoffs was outstanding). The Seattle and Pittsburgh defenses were ranked 1-2 in 2005 so it’s a wash, although the Steelers – playing in the more difficult AFC – were probably a more physical group and Pittsburgh won that game.
 
But still, 57 percent of the betting public backed the Broncos as 2.5-point favorites while 10 of 13 ESPN experts said Denver would win. http://espn.go.com/nfl/picks
 
Toss in the fact that Peyton Manning no longer has the arm strength to scare a defense. Everybody knows that. Seattle, with the length and strength to whack Manning’s receivers around and smash them when they did make a catch, didn’t fear Manning throwing over them. And with the timing of Manning’s short and intermediate passing targets gummed up, he was going to have to hold the ball, accept hits and make throws. He doesn’t have the belly for that. Nor does he have the belly for a game in which Plan A isn’t working.
 
In Manning’s clinical mind, if X and Y happen, you do Z. If Z doesn’t work, well, hell… Things went exceedingly well for Manning and the Broncos offense this season. When he got a taste of his own blood in his mouth, he freaked. Contrast Manning’s performance Sunday with that of Tom Brady against the Giants in the 2007 Super Bowl and you see the difference. Nothing worked for the Patriots offense for 55 minutes and Brady was pummeled by New York. Yet Brady still took the Patriots down the field for the go-ahead score with less than three minutes left. They are much different players in big-game situations. And so is Manning’s brother, by the way (not Cooper; the other brother).
 
Now, onto the invincibility of the Seahawks.
 
But before we do that, let’s look back 365 days at what was being written after the Ravens beat the 49ers. Remember, that was the game in which people seemed just as interested in how much Joe Flacco would get paid as who would actually win
 
(“Joe Flacco, pay the man” returns 110,000 hits when googled).
 
Joe had arrived.
 
The year before, after Eli Manning won his second Super Bowl, we were poleaxed as a nation by the heady debate of whether or not he was “elite.”
 
After the Packers won the Super Bowl in 2010, how could anyone foresee another team challenging Green Bay over the next several years.
 
Flacco and the Ravens missed the playoffs this year. Manning hasn’t been back to the playoffs. The Packers have won one playoff game since they won the Super Bowl.
 
We can keep going? The Saints have won two playoff games since 2009. The Steelers have won two playoff games since 2008 – both in the same season. The Patriots have won four playoff games since 2007. The Colts have won three playoff games since 2006 (two in 2009 when they went to the Super Bowl).
I’m not saying Seattle’s going to fall off the table but they have a core of young, late-round draft choices that just helped them win a Super Bowl. Pete Carroll is about to see what high class problems look like when those guys are up for new deals.
 
Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas, Cliff Avril, Michael Bennett, Golden Tate, K.J. Wright, Malcolm Smith, Doug Baldwin, Steve Hauschka, Brandon Browner and Walter Thurmond all have expiring contracts over the next 14 months. And Russell Wilson’s gonna need a raise. And Percy Harvin’s got a stupid contract.
 
As incredible as the Seahawks looked when everything was coming undone for the Broncos, that’s a snapshot of a team at the peak of its powers.
 
The physical matchup with Denver, the fact the Broncos were so utterly underprepared by their coaching staff (John Fox didn’t think noise would be an issue; Adam Gase was apparently in charge of monitoring the giant red welt on Manning’s forehead rather than making adjustments), that was as good as it possibly can get for Seattle.
 
It was not reality. Regardless of the number of times Carroll-coached teams did that at USC, the talent dispersion and coaching ability in the NFL makes games like Sunday rare.
 
It happened that theirs came February 2 with a few hundred million people watching and their performance will now be their new normal in the eyes of the forgetful NFL observers I mentioned many paragraphs ago.
 
Sunday was an indicator of what the 2013 Seahawks were capable of when everything went right. With the other 31 teams now readying to take Seattle down – and all of the Seahawks 53 players needing new deals and/or dealing with the life of a champion, now is when it gets hard for the Seahawks.
 
Sunday was the easy part.