Wiedmer: Tough night for fairytales

Wiedmer: Tough night for fairytales

February 3rd, 2014 by Mark Wiedmer in Sports - Columns

Seattle Seahawks' Russell Wilson rolls back to pass against the Denver Broncos during the second half of the NFL Super Bowl XLVIII football game Sunday, Feb. 2, 2014, in East Rutherford, N.J.

Photo by Associated Press /Times Free Press.

POLL: Will Peyton Manning return to the NFL next season?

Denver Broncos' Peyton Manning walks off the field after the NFL Super Bowl XLVIII football game against the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday, Feb. 2, 2014, in East Rutherford, N.J. The Seahawks won 43-8.

Denver Broncos' Peyton Manning walks off the field...

Photo by Associated Press /Times Free Press.

Super Bowl XLVIII

Super Bowl XLVIII

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.

So much for fairytale finishes. And karmic comebacks. And Peyton performing as perfectly in his final game of the 2013 NFL season as he had for most of the 18 contests that came before it.

Did Seattle's Legion of Boom defense really lower the boom on Peyton Manning's Denver Broncos in Sunday's Super Bowl, winning 43-8?

Weren't those kind of Super Bowl routs supposed to be retired with those old Denver unis, the ones where the horse's head popped out of the block D on the side of those medium blue helmets, the ones that lost four Super Bowls in four tries?

This was supposed to be Peyton's perfect comeback from neck sugery. His ultimate statement that the Indianapolis Colts made a mistake letting him go two years ago. His vindication for relocation.

Instead, this looked too much like all those disasters the Broncs endured against the New York Giants in the 1987 Super Bowl (39-20), the 1988 Super Bowl against the Washington Redskins (42-10) and the San Francisco 49ers in the 1990 Super Bowl (55-10).

By halftime, Seattle already on top 22-0, you got the feeling that the only way Denver could have won this game was if New Jersey governor Chris Christie had created a big enough traffic jam to keep the Seahawks from ever reaching MetLife Stadium.

Think about it. Christie's Republicans are probably never again going to win the Northwest, anyway. With Colorado a potential swing state, oh, what could have been for the pachyderms.

Yet in much the same way the power went out at the Superdome during last year's Super Bowl, Seattle's top-ranked defense turned out the lights on the NFL's most prolific offense during the regular season with what almost assuredly ranks with the most overwhelming performances on both sides of the ball as this event has ever seen.

Not that most folks saw this coming. So much money was supposed coming in on Peyton and the Broncos that Las Vegas was a nervous wreck. Now the smart guys on the Strip can throw their own ticker tape parade for the new world champs.

And the Seahawks certainly deserve any praise thrown their way. They took away Peyton's time, which destroyed his timing. His first interception came about because of a vicious pass rush. His second pick, which was returned for a touchdown by game MVP Malcolm Smith, was the result of his arm being struck while he passed.

Peyton supporters may justifiably argue that almost none of this should be blamed on Peyton, but rather his offensive line. And anyone closely studying Seattle's season might also have noted that their few close games tended to come against mobile quarterbacks such as San Francisco's Colin Kaepernick rather than pocket passers such as Manning or Atlanta's Matt Ryan.

But this much is also true: For perhaps the first time in his career, Manning looked every bit of his 37 years, 10 months and nine days on earth as Sunday evening rolled into Sunday night. Former Denver Hall of Fame quarterback John Elway may have won the first of his back-to-back Super Bowls at the same age and Manning might yet capture his second Super Bowl ring at the age of 38 next year.

And the game would certainly be better for his return. But he's also defied the odds by playing the past two seasons with that fused neck. His twins are getting older. The NFL is getting younger, faster, stronger. No one can play forever.

Sure, the odds are pretty good that (nearly) Perfect Peyton sticks around for one more run at the Lombardi Trophy, one more chance to prove his worth as the greatest quarterback ever.

Yet Hall of Fame quarterback and Fox analyst Troy Aikman also said much when he noted that regardless of Sunday's outcome, Peyton's spot as one of the top five quarterbacks ever was secure. So in a way he can't make a wrong choice in deciding whether to return or retire.

As for the rest of Super Sunday, a big thumbs up for Renee Fleming's regal rendition of the National Anthem, as well as similar high praise for MetLife's touching Charlie Brown cartoon where Linus played the Anthem on his piano. The Budweiser Clydsdale spots were money. GoDaddy's ads were more witty and less risque. As for the halftime show, more Bruno Mars and less Red Hot Chili Peppers might have been a good thing. And Volkswagon's play on "It's A Wonderful Life" was well done.

But the best performance of the night fittingly belonged to the Seahawks, whose charismatic coach Pete Carroll said afterward, "This is an amazing team. It took us four years to get to this point. But they've never taken a step sideways or backwards. They've always gone forward."

Going further forward, it's tough to see this young, perfectly balanced team not returning to this moment a year from now as long as they can hold off the 49ers within the NFC.

And should they return to the Super Bowl, this stat must be considered: In three of the four Super Bowls before this one that the NFL's top offense had met its top defense, the defense prevailed. Now it's four of five. Defense still wins championships. And crushes one of the best comeback stories the NFL's ever seen.

Contact Mark Wiedmer at mwiedmer@timesfreepress.com.