Super Bowl XLVIII: Best two teams, worst stadium choice
It’s been decades since the National Football League’s most proficient offense has been lined up against the NFL’s stingiest defense, but it’s about to happen Sunday evening in MetLife Stadium at The Meadowlands in East Rutherford, N.J.
Rutherford, New Jersey, the first weekend in February??? That sounds ludicrous. What kind of an idiot would select such a stupid location for pro football’s most important game in the middle of one of our harshest winters? More than 60,000 fans will be out in the elements for upwards to seven hours Sunday getting to and from the stadium and then watching the game.
The answer has to be the NFL’s illustrious commissioner Roger Goodell, who probably promised the two New York franchises (the Giants and Jets) who both use Met- Life Stadium a Super Bowl bid if they supported one of his hair-brained proposals.
Is this the same Roger Goodell who only last week chastised Seattle Seahawks’ star cornerback Richard Sherman for his post-season rant only moments after his defensive play assured his team a trip to Super Bowl XLVIII?
Is this the same NFL commissioner that said absolutely nothing about former Dallas Cowboy Josh Brent who was sentenced the same day to only 180 days for intoxication manslaughter for a fiery car wreck that killed a Cowboy teammate?
Goodell is not out of fresh ideas about changing the way football is being played in the NFL. He is bored with the almost-automatic point-after-touchdown kick. He said last week that because 99.5 per cent of the attempts are successful, it needs to be eliminated from the NFL game.
Goodell wonders if the NFL can add some excitement to the game by making some major adjustments to the extra point.
He suggests perhaps making a touchdown worth seven points instead of six, with teams having the option to run a play for an extra point.
If the play fails, it would cost them a point, giving that team only six points for their touchdown. But if it is successful, the team would get the same eight points it gets now for a touchdown and a two-point conversion.
The competition committee meets with the players’ union in February at the NFL combine, where any new proposals are discussed. The committee then presents potential changes to the 32 owners at the league meetings in March, where Goodell can promise them more future Super Bowls for the right vote.
Getting back to Sunday’s extravaganza, Super Bowl XLVIII features the Denver Broncos—the NFL’s best offensive team—against the Seattle Seahawks, which led the league in defense, allowing 273.6 yards per game, 14.4 points per contest and 39 takeaways, all tops in the league.
Seattle is the first team to lead the NFL in those three categories since the 1985 Chicago Bears, according to ESPN Stats and Information.
The Broncos’ leader is four-time NFL Most Valuable Player Peyton Manning, who is trying to become the first NFL quarterback to win Super Bowls with two different teams.
Manning set NFL passing records this season with 55 touchdowns and 5,477 yards. He joins Dan Marino (1984), Kurt Warner (2001) and Tom Brady (2007) as the only quarterbacks to lead the NFL in yards passing and touchdown passes and reach a Super Bowl. However, all three lost the Super Bowl.
And Manning still enjoys the preparation this week for the Super Bowl and the work part of it, so he has something in common with Orange’s Earl Thomas III, the leader and signal caller of Seattle’s defense, dubbed the Legion of Boom.
Nobody enjoys the game both practicing and playing than Thomas, who was named to his third straight All-Pro team, even though he has only been in the league four seasons. Earl also is one of the leading candidates for NFL Defensive Player of the Year which will be announced Saturday night.
“I think he’s the MVP of the league on defense, if you ask me,” former NFL coach and Monday Night Football analyst Jon Gruden recently told a Seattle newspaper. “I don’t see safeties play like this kid.”
The Seahawks, with an average age on their roster of 26.4 years, are the second-youngest team to reach the Super Bowl, according to Pro Football Reference.com. All-Pro safeties Thomas and Kam Chancellor were drafted in 2010 while Sherman was a fifth-round selection in 2011.
“Even though we’re young, I think we have a mature perspective of what it takes to perform well,” Seattle Head Coach Pete Carroll told newstimes.com. “We’ve never talked about the Super Bowl, we just talked about playing really well.”
And I hope both teams both play really well, despite perhaps being hampered by the New Jersey February weather which is expected to be between 25-35 degrees with a 20-40 per cent possibility of precipitation.
But as my old grandpappy used to say, great offenses set records but great defenses win championships. Despite the Seattle Seahawks being a two-point underdog, I think they’ll beat Denver 20-17.
KWICKIES…Tiger Woods missed the 54-hole cut for the first time in his career in last weekend’s Farmer’s Insurance Open at Torrey Hills, his old home course. Tiger went seven consecutive holes making bogey or worse and struggled just to break 80. He carded a 7-over 79 and went home a day early. The winner was Scott Stallings, who won by one stroke and collected a check for $1,098, 000.
Fired Houston Texans head coach Gary Kubiak has been hired as the offensive coordinator for the Baltimore Ravens. The Cleveland Browns really wanted Kubiak, but couldn’t hire the five assistants he wanted to bring with him. Baltimore went for the deal and will have Rick Dennison as its quarterback coach.
The Seattle Seahawks have been diligently working on ways to get pressure on Denver quarterback Peyton Manning, who has utilized the stellar pass blocking from his offensive line and his quick release on his passes to avoid being sacked very often. Manning has never thrown passes against any of the Seahawks’ secondary, which also could prove very interesting.
JUST BETWEEN US…Sunday’s Pro Bowl game—without the all-pros from the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks—used an entirely new concept of having honorary captains Jerry Rice and Deion Sanders use a draft format which was meant to improve the game. And it did just that Sunday night in Honolulu. Although it put teammates playing against each other, it was much more exciting than the previous Pro Bowls where the players were barely going through the motions and major television networks threatened not to carry the game if the action didn’t improve. It did prove exciting with Team Rice scoring a 20-yard touchdown by Dallas Cowboys’ DeMarco Murray and a two-point conversion by Carolina running back Mike Tolbert with 41 seconds left to win 22-21.