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.

hide

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.

Photo: J. Conrad Williams • Newsday,

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

– 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.

When the Broncos caught passes, they paid a price. “I told you, we’re the best defense ever,” Seattle defensive end Michael Bennett said. “We could have played anyone and did the same thing.”

That’s hard to argue. In the postseason, Seattle beat Drew Brees and the Saints’ dynamic passing offense; held off the 49ers and Colin Kaepernick’s legs; and then dominated one of the greatest offenses and quarterbacks in history.

“You hit ’em a couple of times, they don’t want to come in the middle no more,” linebacker Bobby Wagner said. “Kam’s hit set the tone.”

 

Jim Souhan can be heard weekdays at noon and Sundays from 10 to noon on 1500 ESPN. His Twitter name is @SouhanStrib. • jsouhan@startribune.com

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How will the Vikings and Gophers do this weekend?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

Los Angeles - LP: B. Wilson 7 FINAL
Chicago Cubs - WP: J. Grimm 8
Detroit - WP: M. Scherzer 3 FINAL
Kansas City - LP: J. Shields 2
Philadelphia - WP: J. Williams 3 FINAL
Oakland - LP: D. Otero 0
Toronto - WP: M. Stroman 6 FINAL
NY Yankees - LP: C. Capuano 3
Arizona - LP: T. Cahill 1 FINAL
Colorado - WP: E. Butler 5
Boston 2 Bottom 4th Inning
Baltimore 3
Milwaukee 0 Bottom 4th Inning
Pittsburgh 0
Washington 0 Bottom 5th Inning
Miami 2
NY Mets 3 Top 5th Inning
Atlanta 0
Chicago WSox 0 Top 5th Inning
Tampa Bay 2
Cleveland 0 Top 2nd Inning
Minnesota 0
Seattle 1 Bottom 4th Inning
Houston 7
Cincinnati 1 Top 5th Inning
St. Louis 5
San Francisco - Y. Petit 7:40 PM
San Diego - A. Cashner
Texas - C. Lewis 8:05 PM
LA Angels - J. Weaver
San Diego 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Buffalo
Dallas 9/21/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis
Washington 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Philadelphia
Houston 9/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
Minnesota 9/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Tennessee 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Baltimore 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Cleveland
Green Bay 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Detroit
Indianapolis 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Oakland 9/21/14 12:00 PM
New England
San Francisco 9/21/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Denver 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Seattle
Kansas City 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Miami
Pittsburgh 9/21/14 7:30 PM
Carolina
Chicago 9/22/14 7:30 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 9/25/14 7:25 PM
Washington
Connecticut 14 FINAL
So Florida 17
Old Dominion 45 FINAL
Rice 42
Troy 0 FINAL
(13) Georgia 66
Georgia Tech 27 FINAL
Virginia Tech 24
Eastern Mich 14 FINAL
(11) Michigan State 73
Iowa 24 FINAL
Pittsburgh 20
Bowling Green 17 FINAL
(19) Wisconsin 68
Maryland 34 FINAL
Syracuse 20
Tulane 13 FINAL
Duke 47
Hawaii 12 FINAL
Colorado 21
Marshall 48 FINAL
Akron 17
Utah 26 Delayed 7:51
Michigan 10
North Carolina 41 FINAL
East Carolina 70
Army 21 FINAL
Wake Forest 24
Virginia 33 FINAL
(21) BYU 41
(6) Texas A&M 58 FINAL
SMU 6
Rutgers 31 FINAL
Navy 24
Central Mich 10 FINAL
Kansas 24
Florida 21 FINAL
(3) Alabama 42
Louisville 34 FINAL
FIU 3
Fla Atlantic 19 FINAL
Wyoming 20
Indiana 31 FINAL
(18) Missouri 27
San Jose St 7 FINAL
Minnesota 24
Massachusetts 7 FINAL
Penn State 48
Texas State 28 4th Qtr
Illinois 25
Georgia State 14 3rd Qtr 3:43
Washington 14
Ball State 0 Delayed 9:30
Toledo 6
Appalachian St 7 2nd Qtr 2:24
Southern Miss 14
Miss State 17 2nd Qtr 1:20
(8) LSU 3
Northern Ill 7 2nd Qtr 1:30
Arkansas 21
Middle Tennessee 7 2nd Qtr 1:04
Memphis 19
Utah State 7 2nd Qtr 6:10
Arkansas State 0
Miami-Ohio 14 2nd Qtr 2:33
Cincinnati 10
Idaho 7 2nd Qtr 2:12
Ohio U 17
(14) So Carolina 3 2nd Qtr 11:17
Vanderbilt 14
(4) Oklahoma 3 2nd Qtr 13:37
West Virginia 7
Ga Southern 14 2nd Qtr 10:04
South Alabama 0
UNLV 7 1st Qtr 6:33
Houston 7
Miami-Florida 7 1st Qtr 6:49
(24) Nebraska 7
New Mexico 0 1st Qtr 3:26
New Mexico St 0
(22) Clemson 0 1st Qtr 13:15
(1) Florida State 0
California 9:00 PM
Arizona
Louisiana 9:30 PM
Boise State
(2) Oregon 9:30 PM
Washington St
San Diego St 9:30 PM
Oregon State
Texas Tech 9/25/14 6:30 PM
(25) Oklahoma State
Appalachian St 9/25/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
(12) UCLA 9/25/14 9:00 PM
(15) Arizona State
Middle Tennessee 9/26/14 7:00 PM
Old Dominion
Fresno State 9/26/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico
(1) Florida State 9/27/14 2:00 AM
NC State
Duke 9/27/14 2:00 AM
Miami-Florida
North Carolina 9/27/14 2:00 AM
(22) Clemson
Texas-El Paso 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(20) Kansas State
Tennessee 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(13) Georgia
Vanderbilt 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Kentucky
Wyoming 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(11) Michigan State
Northwestern 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Penn State
TCU 9/27/14 11:00 AM
SMU
Iowa 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Purdue
Tulane 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Rutgers
So Florida 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(19) Wisconsin
Colorado State 9/27/14 11:30 AM
Boston College
Western Mich 9/27/14 11:30 AM
Virginia Tech
Maryland 9/27/14 12:30 PM
Indiana
Akron 9/27/14 12:30 PM
Pittsburgh
Bowling Green 9/27/14 2:00 PM
Massachusetts
Arkansas 9/27/14 2:30 PM
(6) Texas A&M
Kent State 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Virginia
Western Ky 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Navy
Minnesota 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Michigan
Wake Forest 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Louisville
FIU 9/27/14 2:30 PM
UAB
Miami-Ohio 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Colorado 9/27/14 3:00 PM
California
Louisiana Tech 9/27/14 3:00 PM
(5) Auburn
Texas 9/27/14 3:00 PM
Kansas
Temple 9/27/14 3:00 PM
Connecticut
(16) Stanford 9/27/14 3:15 PM
Washington
TX-San Antonio 9/27/14 4:00 PM
Fla Atlantic
South Alabama 9/27/14 4:00 PM
Idaho
Cincinnati 9/27/14 5:00 PM
(23) Ohio State
Rice 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Southern Miss
(18) Missouri 9/27/14 6:00 PM
(14) So Carolina
Boise State 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Air Force
Central Mich 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Toledo
Troy 9/27/14 6:00 PM
ULM
New Mexico St 9/27/14 6:30 PM
(8) LSU
Memphis 9/27/14 6:30 PM
(10) Ole Miss
Texas State 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Tulsa
Washington St 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Utah
(9) Notre Dame 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Syracuse
(7) Baylor 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Iowa State
UNLV 9/27/14 7:00 PM
San Diego St
Illinois 9/27/14 8:00 PM
(24) Nebraska
Oregon State 9/27/14 9:30 PM
(17) USC
Nevada 9/27/14 9:30 PM
San Jose St
Vancouver FC 0 FINAL
Portland 3
Houston 0 2nd Half 30:00
Philadelphia 0
New England 0 2nd Half
Columbus 0
San Jose 0 2nd Half
Montreal 0
Seattle 0 2nd Half
Red Bull New York 1
D.C. 7:30 PM
Chicago
FC Dallas 9:30 PM
Los Angeles
Toronto 40 FINAL
Brt Columbia 23
Edmonton 15 2:18
Hamilton 3
Calgary 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Montreal
Ottawa 9/21/14 3:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Montreal 9/26/14 6:00 PM
Ottawa
Saskatchewan 9/26/14 9:00 PM
Edmonton
Hamilton 9/27/14 5:30 PM
Winnipeg
Brt Columbia 9/27/14 8:30 PM
Calgary
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters
Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis NoonX34-6
Sep 14 - vs. New England NoonX30-7
Sep 21 - at New Orleans Noon
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pm
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pm
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit Noon
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo Noon
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay Noon
Nov 2 - vs. Washington Noon
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago Noon
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay Noon
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina Noon
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets Noon
Dec 14 - at Detroit Noon
Dec 21 - at Miami Noon
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago Noon
 
Close