Souhan: Seattle can make legitimate claim to NFL's best-ever defense

  • Article by: JIM SOUHAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: February 3, 2014 - 10:55 PM

The Seahawks could make such a boast after an astonishing performance.

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Broncos wide receiver Demaryius Thomas might have set a Super Bowl record with 13 receptions Sunday, but he also paid the price repeatedly from a punishing Seahawks defense ready to pile on to him.

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– Peyton Manning had time. He shuffled his feet in the pocket, found his favorite receiver open over the middle and delivered the ball on time, on the numbers, for his first completion of the Super Bowl.

Demaryius Thomas caught it in stride, for a moment providing a reminder of how the Denver Broncos set the record for points scored in a season — with short catches and long runs.

Thomas looked to turn upfield, and then Seahawks safety Kam Chancellor made the most emblematic play of the game. He knocked Thomas backward and down with a ferocious hit. Denver, already down 5-0, went three-and-out and punted, and never again took the ball with a chance to take the lead.

“It just sends a message,” Chancellor said. “Any time you come across that middle, you’ve got a chance of getting wrecked.”

The Broncos can only take solace in getting wrecked by one of the most effective defenses in Super Bowl history.

The Seahawks ranked first in the NFL in total defense this season. They held the No. 1 offense to eight points, and never gave up a score when the result of the game was in doubt.

The Jersey Bowl marked the first time since the 1990 season that the top-ranked scoring defense faced the top-ranked scoring offense. In Super Bowl XXV, the defense run by Bill Parcells and Bill Belichick handcuffed the Buffalo Bills, winning 20-19.

Was that performance better than Seattle’s? The Bills scored 51 points against the Raiders in the AFC title game and featured Jim Kelly, Thurman Thomas and Andre Reed.

But the Bills did score 19 points, and only a missed Scott Norwood field goal kept them from winning the game.

There is only one other time in NFL history the league’s top-ranked scoring defense faced the top-ranked offense and held that offense to single digits. Here we offer our often-used, prerecorded warning to Vikings fans to avert their eyes from history.

In Super Bowl IV, the Kansas City Chiefs brought the No. 1 defense to New Orleans to face the Vikings’ top-ranked offense. The final was 23-7.

The Vikings pulled within 16-7 in the third quarter on Dave Osborn’s touchdown run. Joe Kapp threw for 183 yards and two interceptions. No Vikings player rushed for more than Bill Brown’s 26 yards. The Vikings fumbled three times and lost two of them.

Unlike this year’s Broncos, who played in good weather conditions on an artificial turf field, the Vikings played in frigid temperatures on the grass at Tulane Stadium.

“That was the coldest I’ve ever been in my life,” said Mike Grant, son of legendary Vikings coach Bud Grant.

Mike Grant vacations in Otter Tail County. He recently went hunting in the Dakotas. He is Bud’s son. If he says it was freezing that day in New Orleans, it was freezing.

The Broncos had no such excuses. They had one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history running an offense with three star receivers and a remarkably talented tight end, with two weeks to prepare for Seattle. Manning had thrown for the most yards and touchdowns ever.

Seattle used its preparation time well. A few Seahawks said after the game that they learned some cues from watching game films and focusing on Manning’s eyes. They largely ignored the audibles and fake audibles he called at the line of scrimmage, sometimes countering with their own fake calls.

More important, Seattle took advantage of Manning’s preference for throwing short, quick passes. The Seahawks left star safety Earl Thomas playing deep, by himself, and used Chancellor as a fourth linebacker.

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Pittsburgh - LP: F. Liriano 0 FINAL
Cincinnati - WP: J. Cueto 4
Tampa Bay - LP: J. Odorizzi 0 FINAL
Baltimore - WP: M. Gonzalez 3
Chicago Cubs - LP: J. Hammel 0 FINAL
NY Yankees - WP: M. Tanaka 3
St. Louis - LP: J. Kelly 1 FINAL
Milwaukee - WP: W. Peralta 5
NY Mets - WP: D. Gee 5 FINAL
Arizona - LP: B. McCarthy 2
Atlanta - WP: J. Teheran 1 FINAL
Philadelphia - LP: C. Lee 0
Chicago Cubs - LP: T. Wood 0 FINAL
NY Yankees - WP: M. Pineda 2
Cleveland - WP: Z. McAllister 3 FINAL
Detroit - LP: A. Sanchez 2
Washington - WP: D. Storen 6 FINAL
Miami - LP: M. Dunn 3
Seattle - LP: F. Rodney 2 FINAL
Texas - WP: P. Figueroa 3
Boston - WP: C. Capuano 6 FINAL
Chicago WSox - LP: L. Garcia 4
Kansas City - WP: D. Duffy 6 FINAL
Houston - LP: J. Williams 4
Toronto 0 Postponed
Minnesota 0
Oakland - LP: D. Pomeranz 4 FINAL
LA Angels - WP: J. Smith 5
Colorado - LP: J. De La Rosa 2 FINAL
San Diego - WP: A. Cashner 4
Los Angeles - LP: J. Howell 1 FINAL
San Francisco - WP: J. Machi 2
Chicago 86 FINAL
Charlotte 91
Indiana 101 FINAL
Orlando 86
Atlanta 111 FINAL
Milwaukee 103
Dallas 105 FINAL
Memphis 106
Detroit 111 FINAL
Oklahoma City 112
Houston 100 FINAL
New Orleans 105
LA Lakers 113 FINAL
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Brooklyn 85 FINAL
Cleveland 114
Philadelphia 100 FINAL
Miami 87
Utah 136 FINAL
Minnesota 130
Washington 118 FINAL
Boston 102
Toronto 92 FINAL
New York 95
Golden State 116 FINAL
Denver 112
LA Clippers 104 FINAL
Portland 110
Phoenix 104 FINAL
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Montreal 5 FINAL(OT)
Tampa Bay 4
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Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2013 preseason     
Aug 9 - vs. Houston 7 pmX27-13
Aug 16 - at Buffalo 6 pmX20-16
Aug 25 - at San Francisco 7 pmX34-14
Aug 29 - vs. Tennessee 7 pmX24-23
2013 regular season     
Sep 8 - at Detroit NoonX34-24
Sep 15 - at Chicago NoonX31-30
Sep 22 - vs. Cleveland NoonX31-27
Sep 29 - vs. Pittsburgh (in London) NoonX34-27
Oct 6 - Bye
Oct 13 - vs. Carolina NoonX35-10
Oct 21 - at. NY Giants 7:40 pmX23-7
Oct 27 - vs. Green Bay 7:30 pmX44-31
Nov 3 - at Dallas NoonX27-23
Nov 7 - vs. Washington 7:25 pmX34-27
Nov 17 - at Seattle 3:25 pmX41-20
Nov. 24 - at Green Bay Noon26-26
Dec 1 - vs. Chicago NoonX23-20
Dec 8 - at Baltimore NoonX29-26
Dec 15 - vs. Philadelphia NoonX48-30
Dec 22 - at Cincinnati NoonX42-14
Dec 29 - vs. Detroit NoonX14-13
 
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