Super Bowl XLVIII proves defense still alive in NFL

By
Updated: February 3, 2014
The Denver Broncos let down the entire NFL universe yesterday, but that doesn't mean Super Bowl XVIII was an unmitigated disaster.

The Denver Broncos let down the entire NFL universe yesterday, but that doesn’t mean Super Bowl XVIII was an unmitigated disaster.

By any measure, Super Bowl XLVIII was a disappointment.

Fans of the Denver Broncos were subjected to the agony of watching their team be embarrassed on the biggest stage of them all. The Broncos have now amassed more Super Bowl losses — — than any team in NFL history.

Fans of quarterback Peyton Manning watched in stunned disbelief as their hero put up one of the very  on a night that could have been the resounding climax to his glorious comeback tale.

Fans of high-flying offensive aerobatics saw one of the most prolific offenses in recent memory stumble out of the gate and then proceed to put up an astonishing display of ineptitude.

Fans of dominant defensive prowess were cheated of the opportunity to see a historically great defense pitted against a worthy opponent.

Fans of the game — the ones who don’t have to souse their brains with alcohol to enjoy a good gridiron grudge match — just wanted a close, competitive contest, and debacle they witnessed was anything but.

Even fans of the Seattle Seahawks, if they’re honest with themselves, have to be feeling a little let down today. An outstanding team deserves an outstanding adversary. The Broncos looked unfocused and underprepared.

Reliving history

Now is it any shock the Denver Broncos lost last night? Of course not. It was sadly predictable.

Frankly, I was pleasantly surprised they made it that far. As exciting as they were to watch in 2013, they struck me as a virtual clone of the 2011 Green Bay Packers: an explosive offense carrying a defense that couldn’t stop a nosebleed — and wasn’t all that interested in trying.

For most of the season, I figured they’d be one and done in the playoffs. In the AFC Championship Game, I picked them against my better judgment, only because New England’s receiving corps was about as bare as my pantry when payday finally rolls around.

When they actually pulled out that win, I started to think that maybe, just maybe, this was really their year and they could defy the odds.

Everyone knows I’m an outspoken Peyton Manning fan, so of course I was rooting for a Denver victory. But I am first and foremost a football fan, so what I wanted most of all was a good game.

Sure, I’m disappointed that the Broncos lost out on their chance at the fairytale ending, but that’s not what galls me. Had they managed to make a game of it, I could have shrugged, tipped my hat to the better team, and moved merrily along.

It’s how they lost that rankles. They didn’t just look overmatched and overwhelmed. They looked like they didn’t even belong on the same field as the Seahawks. They took one punch from a superior foe and never recovered. They lacked the one thing a championship-caliber team should never be without: gumption.

In almost every particular, it’s reminiscent of what I experienced when the Packers fell to the New York Giants in the 2011 Divisional Round, and that makes the taste on my tongue all the more bitter.

Balance is the key

So what do we take from travesty of a Super Bowl? Is it really true what they say, that offense wins games but defense wins championships?

Well, sort of. The truth lies, as it almost always does, somewhere in the middle.

For better or for worse, regular-season football and postseason football are different animals. It’s not so much that the game itself is different (although officials often do tend to “let ‘em play” in the playoffs) — it’s the level of competition.

In the regular season, there are great teams, mediocre teams, and poor teams. Dominant offense can often compensate for the deficiencies of poor defenses by feasting on the minnows in the pond. Once they get to the postseason, they lose that advantage. There aren’t any bad teams anymore.

Once teams hit the postseason, defense begins to show its true value. Offenses that sparkled in the regular season suddenly begin to struggle in the face of stiffer competition. Good defenses can pick up the slack and carry their teams when they can’t get the job on their own. Teams that have invested everything in their offenses, teams whose defenses have simply been along for the ride all season, find themselves left out in the cold.

The AFC field was so weak this year that the Broncos were able to stave off their inevitable fate until the final round, but as so many similar teams before them, ultimately fell prey to an unstoppable force.

As better minds than mine have shown, the majority of Super Bowl winners have ranked in the top 10 in both offense and defense the year they won it all. Rarely indeed does a team that is great on one side of the ball but lousy on the other take home the coveted prize.

In other words, it’s not so much that defense wins championships. It’s that well-balanced teams — teams that are at least good on both sides of the ball — win championships. This year that team was the Seattle Seahawks, with their astounding defense and their steady, competent offense.

As disappointing as the Denver Broncos might have been, the bright side is that defensive excellence was showcased for all the world to see under the bright lights of Super Bowl Sunday.

The bright side

But you know what? As gloomy as this diatribe might sound, I’ll get over it. Because as I said all season, I was rooting for a defensive team to win it all this year. It’s about time that the fans, the media, and the league itself outgrow their obsession with offense to the exclusion of other facets of this great game.

The medicine might have been a little hard to take — I mean, seriously, did it have to be the Seahawks? — but in the end, I did get my wish. I might still be a little grumpy, yet deep down, I’m pleased too.

I salute general manager John Schneider, head coach Pete Carroll, quarterback Russell Wilson, running back Marshawn Lynch, cornerback Richard Sherman, and the entire Seahawks organization for winning your first Lombardi Trophy. You richly deserve it.

Oh, and congratulations to linebacker Malcolm Smith for becoming the first defensive player since 2003 — and only the third linebacker in Super Bowl history — to take home MVP honors.

In a league that has tried desperately to give offense every possible advantage, it’s gratifying to finally see defense get some love. Have fun tooling around in your 2014 Chevy Silverado, Mr. Smith.

About the author(s)

Rourke Douglas Decker covers the Green Bay Packers beat for Water Cooler Sports. He resides with his family in the Twin Cities. He can be reached for questions or comments at . Connect with .

564 comments
gatrbuc17
gatrbuc17 moderator

Peyton Manning right now feels like life has given him Lemons. He needs to go find someone who life has given them Vodka and have a party

gatrbuc17
gatrbuc17 moderator

Iowa State IMO is better than their ranking. Other than their loss to Oklahoma, they have only lost to Kansas Twice and Texas. 

bp.
bp. moderator

gatrbuc17
gatrbuc17 moderator

AHHHH FUCK......................I never should have refreshed. Now I can see the damn tags

bp.
bp. moderator

Peyton Manning 2013-14:

bp.
bp. moderator

Glovie around?

bp.
bp. moderator

1. Sword and the Stone

2. Why would you need to watch another movie?

Maized and Confused
Maized and Confused moderator

The Godfather was alright, but it was no Super Mario Brothers Movie.

bp.
bp. moderator

Hey Rourke.

bp.
bp. moderator

 

bp.
bp. moderator

*congestive heart failure

gatrbuc17
gatrbuc17 moderator

 Im just glad I can't see the tags. I dont need to see a Packer symbol in my space..........lol

jmac3444
jmac3444

I see you added "the" when there shouldn't be one

bp.
bp. moderator

 cool packer mod tag.  Boombaya.

gatrbuc17
gatrbuc17 moderator

 LOL

Nielson ratings show this

gatrbuc17
gatrbuc17 moderator

and Icon, and Entertainer? 

jmac3444
jmac3444

always a thumb up for an Army of Darkness reference

bp.
bp. moderator

 Did you know that I once made Maized a Mod just to remove his powers, then tell him about it later and mock him for the day?


You ruined that.

gatrbuc17
gatrbuc17 moderator

 Blasphemy would be not watching the Puppy Bowl

bp.
bp. moderator

 I get the feeling he is going to be the mod version of a stoner.

Rourke Decker
Rourke Decker

 Maized has had a longer taste of power this time. You can rip it from him and pour salt on the ragged wounds.