The Baltimore Ravens won the Super Bowl proving yet again that regular season records mean little in predicting the playoffs. By translating a 10-6 record in to a 4-0 playoff run, the Ravens have made history by becoming the first team in history to win a Super Bowl against the San Francisco 49ers.
When NFC West football coaches, players, and fans look back on this season, the biggest lesson might be, “Make sure to show up to play in the first half of playoff games.” While both the Seahawks and 49ers looked as talented as any team in football this year, their habit of digging themselves in to a hole and relying on perfect execution late in games backfired. Instead of the NFC West holding a Lombardi Trophy, the 49ers finish the season more closely resembling the team that couldn’t beat the Rams than the team that was predicted by many to win it all.
In my last article I predicted that the Ravens would pass to set up the run. As it would turn out, the Ravens rushing attack was never a factor at all. Luckily for them, they scored their three offensive touchdowns on pass plays. They ended the game with only 93 rushing yards, and averaged a measly 2.7 yards per carry. On a normal day, that would not be enough to move the chains.
However, especially for Super Bowl MVP Joe Flacco, this was not a normal day. His three first half touchdowns were enough to bury the 49ers in a deep hole. They were also enough to set a new NFL record with 11 touchdown passes in a single post season without an interception.
Flacco’s first pass was thrown to the middle of the end zone to Anquan Boldin who found a pocket between two defenders. The next touchdown was a 1-yard pass to Dennis Pitta who calmly spiked the ball. The body language of the Ravens squad exuded confidence. The third touchdown made people stop and look. It was a 56-yard completion to Jacoby Jones, who caught the ball in the air, fell down, and got up in time to elude San Francisco defenders on his way to the end zone.
With the possession of the ball to start the second half, the Ravens were in good position with a 21-6 lead at halftime. By the time Jacoby Jones returned the opening kickoff 108 yards for a touchdown, things were looking great.
It looked like a good old fashioned Super Bowl blowout, until, of all things, the power went out in the Super Dome. While the power outage delayed the game for 34 minutes, it is impossible to judge what effect it had on the two teams. Some say that the 49ers benefited by being allowed to regroup and kill Baltimore’s momentum.
It could be just as easily presumed that Baltimore benefited from the blackout, by being allowed to regain some energy that allowed them to withstand the onslaught that was soon to come. In the end, the real beneficiary of the power out was probably the bar owners across the world who kept their patrons drinking for an extra half hour. At the end of the unexpected intermission, the game really started to get competitive, and turned in to what many called an instant classic.
Colin Kaepernick, who was flustered and ineffective early, suddenly was able to connect with Michael Crabtree and Vernon Davis. Both receivers topped one hundred yards, and Crabtree hauled in a touchdown. The other two 49er touchdowns were run in by Frank Gore who ran for a game best 110 yards, and Kaepernick who celebrated his touchdown run with a highly predictable kiss of his tattoo.
While the touchdown brought the 49ers to within a field goal of the Ravens, perhaps Kaepernick’s celebration was a bit premature if not entirely unnecessary. The Ravens would go on to build their lead to 5 on a Justin Tucker field goal giving the 49ers time to take the lead.
However, Baltimore’s defense held tight on a four-down goal line stand that included one controversial non-call in the end zone on a ball thrown to Michael Crabtree. While Jimmy Smith clearly had a handful of jersey, Crabtree was also engaged in contact. Being that it’s a Super Bowl, I’m a big believer in letting the players play, and saving the flags for obvious penalties, like the illegal formation that stalled a promising opening drive by San Francisco.
After turning the ball over on downs, San Francisco’s defense was able to hold the Ravens to a three and out. The Ravens, who had faked a field goal earlier in the game, pulled another unorthodox special teams move. With twelve seconds left, the punter, Sam Koch, scrambled around in the end zone for eight seconds before running out of bounds giving the 49ers a safety and two points.
The score tightened to 3 points, but with four seconds left on the clock, a field goal was not a possibility. Instead of punting from the end zone with 12 seconds left, the Ravens were able to kick off with four seconds left. There were no repeats of the music city miracle as Baltimore’s kickoff team found the ball quickly, and made the winning tackle as time expired.
It was a fitting end to an exciting season of NFL football. The Ravens have some questions surrounding an aging defense, and a free agent quarterback, but have been consistently competitive over the years. The 49ers also look like they’re built to compete for years to come.
The Seattle Seahawks, Green Bay Packers, Atlanta Falcons, New England Patriots, and Denver Broncos all exited the playoffs with unfulfilled expectations. Expect them to be in the thick of the hunt next season. But, until then, The Baltimore Ravens deserve to hold their well-earned title of NFL Champions.
Tags: Anquan Boldin, Baltimore Ravens, Colin Kaepernick, Dennis Pitta, Denver Broncos, featured, football, Frank Gore, Green Bay Packers, Jacoby Jones, Jimmy Smith, Joe Flacco, Justin Tucker, Michael Crabtree, NFC West, nfl, playoffs, Popular, power out, Sam Koch, San Francisco 49ers, Seahawks, Seattle Seahawks, St. Lois Rams, Super Bowl, super bowl mvp, Super Bowl XLVII, Super Dome, Vernon Davis
After finally getting to watch Seattle’s second preseason game (it didn’t air in Los Angeles until last night), I figured I’d throw my two cents out there. I think Seattle looked a lot better as an entire team this game and the defense held Denver in check while our offense failed to score touchdowns. The “death by a million field goals” offensive reality makes me incredibly uneasy, though. I focused in on Matt Flynn and Russell Wilson’s play this week and tried to put them both in context since stats can get distorted in preseason. All the Wilson advocates should look at his numbers and cut them back a little considering what he is generally playing against – third and fourth stringers. That being said, Wilson is showing in every game why Pete Carroll and John Schneider picked him and I couldn’t be happier.
First up is Matt Flynn. I thought he did a very good job against Denver’s defense. For the most part he took the plays that were available to him and did not turn the ball over or make costly mistakes. He even cranked it up a couple of times and threw some nice deep throws, one of which should have been caught by Terrel Owens for a touchdown. We did fail to score a touchdown in the first half which left me with a queasy feeling. Granted we didn’t have Sidney Rice, Zach Miller, or Michael Robinson, but I would really like to see more touchdowns.
Tyrell Sutton made a strong case for himself with several good runs. Kregg Lumpkin also looked good. Seattle certainly appears to have solid depth at the running back position which is nice to see. It will be interesting to see who gets cut over the next two weeks. Tai Vaua also looked good at fullback. However, Vuau has the unfortunate circumstance of competing against Seattle’s only offensive Pro Bowler from last season for a roster spot he is most likely not going to get.
Our defense kept the game manageable but our offense needs to provide more support. In general, I was once again not overly impressed with our receivers and tight ends. There were some good moments, but in general, it seemed pretty lackluster. Leon Washington and Robert Turbin both looked good, however. When Lynch takes a rest, the defenses won’t get one as Turbin will come in and continue to pound.
Russell Wilson once again looked very good. His poise and decision making were very impressive. The camera missed one play (I was getting the Denver broadcast) where Wilson somehow found an open receiver in a broken play and tossed it to him for an easy reception in a very ugly scenario. Wilson shows a lot of potential and I can see why he has such strong advocates. To me, though, he runs out of the pocket too much for me to feel comfortable. He can make something out of nothing but I don’t want that to be the de facto game plan. I also don’t want him to get hurt. I would like to see him to be able to read defenses better, as well. This all comes with experience which I have no doubt he is going to gain.
The best metaphor I have for thinking about Wilson is a high fastball. For those of you that have never played baseball (those that have will get this), the high fastball is one of the sexiest looking pitches a batter can see. It comes in at eye-level and your brain automatically thinks you’re going to crush it out of the park. Most of the time when the pitch is swung at the batter misses underneath. Once in a while, it may get crushed. The experienced players know this and force themselves to lie off and take the ball, which it almost certainly will be. Wilson is that sexy pitch. The brain sees it and thinks he’s going to crush opposing defenses, and there is a small chance he might, but the downside is a lot greater. If he starts and misses, it could set him back for years or permanently. I’d rather have him “over-ready” to start instead taking an unnecessary chance.
Lastly, our defense once again was very imposing. Three turnovers on a Peyton Manning offense, preseason or not, is always impressive. You could tell Manning was frustrated because he played the whole first half which wasn’t likely Denver’s plan going in. The Seahawks did not get to Manning as much as I would have liked (Irvin did blast him once) but Seattle’s defense did make it hard for Denver’s offense to be effective. In the second half, Bruce Irvin made a very impressive rundown of Brock Osweiler that I replayed many times. A guy that fast and that tenacious is going to be a force. Chris Clemons also was a solid anchor that couldn’t be moved by Denver’s offensive line. With speed to the outside and a massive interior, it’s going to hard to get much going against Seattle’s defense.
That’s my quick and dirty breakdown of thoughts and reactions I had during the game. I’m sure there are many that will disagree with me on the quarterback issue, but I keep telling myself “lay off the high fastball.” “Play the odds.” Over time, I have no doubt Wilson will move himself into the waist-high strike zone, in which case Seattle might have an offense as fast, dynamic, and potent as it’s defense.
Also, a quick update on a previous post I had written regarding Tarvaris Jackson being traded. That is now official and Jackson has also said that he is willing to restructure his contract in order to facilitate a trade. I’ve also heard rumors that Green Bay could be an interested party considering their backup situation is horrible for a Super Bowl caliber team (since the Seahawks now have their former backup) and a generally good relationship between the two franchises. Seattle is requesting a fifth round pick but could receive less.
Tags: Denver Broncos, featured, football, John Schneider, Kregg Lumpkin, matt flynn, News, nfl, Pete Carroll, Peyton Manning, Recaps, Russell Wilson, Seahawks, Seattle Seahawks, Tai Vaua, Tyrell Sutton
1) The Matt Flynn / Russell Wilson Show – Take 2
- After a solid showing against Tennessee at home (23-29 for 195 and 2 picks combined. 59 rushing yards and 1 TD for Wilson) both QB’s showed efficiency and poise in their first snaps as Seahawks. While the interceptions are concerning, overall play for both men showed pocket presence and a knack for finding open receivers. Flynn and Wilson look to share a similar work load on the road in Denver. A strong Broncos pass rush will answer further if either one is ready to take the reins for the ‘Hawks. Flynn will again start, and play the first half, while Wilson will take the 2nd. If there’s a repeat of the success shown against the Titans by either player, the trade rumors surrounding Tarvaris Jackson could be validated. Bottom line, the Seahawks could answer the biggest question surrounding the team coming out of this game. Stay tuned…
2) ‘The Sheriff’ vs. The ‘Hawks Pass D
- It can be argued that the Seahawks have the best collective Defensive Backfield in the NFC, if not the NFL. How will the new Denver offense and a healthy Manning operate against such a solid group? While he wasn’t stellar in limited action against the Bears (4-7- 44 yds-1 Int) he did show great zip and his trademark accuracy at times. With extended playing time, and another week to gel with his new Receivers, this will be agreat litmus test for the ‘Hawks Pass D as well as for Denver’s newly built high-octane O.
3) ‘It All Starts Up-Front…’
- No surprise that it’s paramount the Seahawks can solidify an Offensive Line depleted by a couple key injuries to its starters. James Carpenter is looking at a Week 6 return, and that may be a generous outlook, while John Moffitt is out with an elbow injury until at least Week 1. Paul McQuistan, and Deuce Lutui are sturdy replacements and the surprise rookie J.R. Sweezy is ascending nicely. Whether the Seahawks are left with as many questions as answers, against the likes of Elvis Dumervil, Von Miller, Ty Warren, and D.J. Williams, will reveal itself Saturday.
4) Will the Real Bruce Irvin Please Stand Up?
- Since Day 1 in mini-camp, and into Training Camp, fellow writers, teammates, and coaches have raved about the speed, and explosiveness Bruce Irvin had shown. Against Tennessee he kind of disappeared. Mindful that the Titans do possess one of the games tougher Offensive Lines, it still begs the question for Game 2. Can Bruce Irvin unleash that disruptive, lightning quick force he’s shown us flashes of? Against Denver’s up-tempo pass attack he will get his chance.
5) Looking for Clarity at the Wide Receiver Position
- With the recent additions of Terrell Owens and Braylon Edwards, the Seahawks find themselves with a bit of a log-jam at Wideout. Add in Kellen Winslow, and that football seems to be getting stretched mighty thin. Ben Obomanu and Golden Tate are set to start the game, but let’s see how quickly T.O. and Braylon can get involved. A large question looms as to whether the ‘Hawks keep both of the vets.
After 1 round, some pretty clear round 1 winners and losers have emerged. While these evaluations could change by the end of the draft, here how they stand right now.
Winner: Minnesota Vikings
The Vikings were able to move … [visit site to read more]
The Peyton Manning watch is finally over. He has decided to sign with the Denver Broncos.
Golden Tate was inactive in week one as the Seahawks rolled past the San Francisco 49ers at Qwest Field. Watching from the sidelines was obviously frustrating and Tate, like most athletes in the National Football League, is not used to riding the bench on game day.
Instead of resentment, however, Tate responded. He wasn’t critical of the coaching staff or didn’t rip the decision through the media. Tate waited for his opportunity and made the most of it.
“For me it was kind of a lesson learned. Don’t ever relax,” Tate told the media last week.
Tate’s debut on Sunday was a statement. Following a demonstration of big-play potential, it will be hard for the coaching staff to keep him off the field.
Despite only two targets and one catch, Tate led the Seahawks in receiving yards. He displayed amazing athleticism and ball skills on his lone 52-yard grab, almost single-handedly bringing Seattle back into the game. The Seahawks eventually turned the ball over on downs that drive, but it would have only been a two-score game had they put points on the board.
On his first touch in a regular-season NFL game, Tate returned a punt 63 yards to put the Seahawks in scoring position. Game-breaking ability was showcased as he made several defenders miss and dodged additional would-be tacklers. After Tate’s impressive return, the Seahawks drove a short field and scored their first touchdown of the day.
Tate returned another punt for 19 yards and averaged 41.0 yards per return. Unfortunately for Seattle, he was not the returner to open the game; Walter Thurmond muffed a punt earlier that gave Denver an easy scoring opportunity and eventual lead.
Head coach Pete Carroll has already announced that Golden Tate will return punts for the Seahawks moving forward.
Tate was one of the few bright spots from yesterday’s loss and offers potential moving forward. If the Seahawks are going to win, they need to give Golden Tate at least five touches per game.
He may be young, but Golden Tate is a playmaker. He is only going to get better.
The Broncos easily disposed of Seattle this afternoon in Denver as the Seahawks made several mistakes and were outplayed on the road. The final score was 31-14, but that is not evident of how bad the Seahawks were actually beaten.
Outside of the opening drive, the Seahawks were never within shouting distance and the Broncos had several opportunities to make the matchup laughable. After an opening victory against the San Francisco 49ers at home, the Seahawks regressed in week two and Pete Carroll suffered his first loss as Seattle’s head coach.
You don’t win football games with a turnover ratio of negative four. Matt Hasselbeck threw three interceptions – at Denver’s 4-yard line, 9-yard line, and a third in garbage time late in the game – and Walter Thurmond muffed a punt that gave the Broncos the ball at Seattle’s 13-yard line. Three out of four turnovers occurred while the outcome was still uncertain and were inside the red zone.
You can’t score points if your offense never gets on the field. Denver converted on 14/20 third-down attempts; at one point, the Broncos were 13/16 on third-down efficiency. When the game counted, the Broncos were converting third downs over eighty percent of the time. Kyle Orton led Denver down the field and extended countless drives, regardless of down or distance.
Seattle lost the time of possession battle, controlling the football for only 22:33. This includes an opening drive that occupied 6:17 of time but ended with an interception.
Seattle was penalized seven times for 64 yards, while Denver was only flagged three times for 35 yards. At one point late in the contest, Denver was only penalized once for 5 yards. Seattle’s miscues killed drives, voided scores, and resulted in further mistakes.
All in all, it was ugly. I’d like to say the Seahawks are better than this, but the box score speaks for itself.
The Denver Broncos beat the Seattle Seahawks today – handily.
The Seahawks need to regroup and prepare for next week’s game at Qwest Field. They’re back at home, but the San Diego Chargers are in town. If the Seahawks don’t find a way to correct their on-field mistakes, the Chargers may steamroll Seattle worse than Denver.
Tags: defense, Denver Broncos, football, interception, Kyle Orton, Matt Hasselbeck, nfl, Pete Carroll, Qwest field, Seahawks, Seattle Seahawks, third down efficiency, time of possession, turnover, Walter Thurmond
Feel free to leave comments or start a discussion regarding today’s game against the Denver Broncos.
12. Coach Carroll put a stash of maple bars in the end zone and Golden Tate only gets them if he scores. Luckily, this same deal does not apply for Mike Williams.
11. Last team to have LenDale White on their roster loses. Seahawks fan toast the win with shots of Patron at the Hawknest. Do they have a drink game-day drink special for that yet?
10. John Schneider picked up 11 love-starved Tim Tebow fans to put on the roster. When the Broncos put in Tim Tebow, nothing will keep these girls from their man, and the result will be horrifying.
9. Elvis has left the building. Elvis Dumervil would have been a nightmare sack-machine doling out punishment on Matt Hasselbeck, but he’s out with a torn pectoral muscle. Advantage Seattle.
8. The Broncos face the injury bug much as the Seahawks did last year. With health care costs rising, the Broncos are teetering on financial collapse.
7. The ghost of Mike Shanahan still haunts the hallways, switching Josh McDaniel’s X’s to O’s and sneaking in more plays for Tim Tebow.
6. Last week, the Broncos struggled to bring down the diminutive Maurice Jones-Drew. Justin Forsett is even smaller, so that must mean he’s going to run wild. Please fix your fantasy team accordingly.
5. A former AFC West rival, the Seahawks are preparing to go old school. There’s talk of bringing back Steve Largent as CEO, but the big surprise will be when they sign Kenny Easley to play strong safety and show Earl Thomas how it’s done, the cheers of Seahawks fans in Seattle could drown out the crowd Denver.
4. The Broncos have only one Husky on their team – Stanley Daniels. The Seahawks have two Huskies and one Cougar. Any former Husky and Cougar must be so sick of losing they will do everything they can to enter the win column.
3. Seahawks fans will infiltrate the stadium camouflaged in Broncos fan gear. After Kyle Orton’s first interception they’ll start chanting, “Put in Brady Quinn.” Josh McDaniels has always been a sucker for peer pressure (drafting Tim Tebow?), and he’ll follow through by putting in Quinn. The Seahawks secondary will pick six. That doesn’t mean an INT for a touchdown, that means six interceptions.
2. Kevin Vickerson wasn’t good enough for the Hawks, but he’s good enough for the Broncos. Advantage Seattle.
1. With age comes wisdom. Pete Carroll, Matt Hasselbeck, Olindo Mare and Lawyer Milloy are all older than Broncos Head Coach Josh McDaniels. That covers coaching, offense, defense and special teams. Too bad Baby Belichick.
Tags: 12th Man, Brady Quinn, Denver Broncos, Earl Thomas, Elvis Dumervil, football, Golden Tate, Humor, Josh McDaniel, Justin Forsett, Kenny Easley, Kevin Vickerson, Kyle Orton, Lawyer Milloy, LenDale White, Matt Hasselbeck, Mike Williams, nfl, Olindo Mare, Pete Carroll, Seahawks, Seattle Seahawks, Steve Largent, Tim Tebow, Top 12
The Seattle Seahawks have confirmed they acquired offensive tackle Tyler Polumbus from the Detroit Lions. While the specific compensation is unknown, it is reportedly an undisclosed pick in the 2012 draft.
Polumbus started eight games at right tackle for the Denver Broncos last season and was a hot commodity on the waiver wire last week. The Broncos waived him following Ryan Clady’s return from injury.
The Seahawks, Lions, and Texans all put in waiver claims for Polumbus last week. The Detroit Lions, who had the worst record of the bunch in 2009, were awarded the rights.
Polumbus does have starting experience, but he was noticeably worse than Ryan Harris, who started the first eight games of 2009 for Denver. Polumbus stepped in for Harris following an injury that kept him out for the second half of the season.
The Broncos obviously considered Polumbus expendable, so I wouldn’t get too excited about the acquisition. He does, however, offer Seattle something they don’t currently have: depth on the offensive line.
It is worth noting that Polumbus played with the Broncos in 2008 when Jeremy Bates was in Denver.
Because of his size, the Seahawks may be willing to gamble on Polumbus even after Denver dumped him. He is 6-feet-8, 300 pounds and has starting experience in the National Football League.
At the very least, it is a necessary move to bolster an offensive line struggling with injuries.
Earlier this week, it was announced that Mike Gibson would be starting at left guard this Saturday against the Minnesota Vikings. The change was somewhat surprising, only because Ben Hamilton seemed like a lock to start at that position through most of the offseason.
Hamilton, who signed with Seattle this offseason after spending nine seasons in Denver, was touted by coaches for his knowledge of the zone-blocking scheme. Especially with a rookie at left tackle, part of Hamilton’s duties would be to act as a mentor for the players around him. If he could still play, it seemed like a perfect fit.
Hamilton’s ability to play, however, may be in question.
After Josh McDaniels took over in Denver, the Broncos switched from their traditional zone-blocking scheme to more of a power-blocking scheme. Hamilton, as a smaller, more agile player, is much better suited in a zone-blocking scheme.
In fact, Hamilton was actually bumped from Denver’s starting lineup last season.
When he was relegated to a backup role, Hamilton was the longest-tenured Bronco regardless of position. It was the first time Hamilton had missed a start in which he was healthy since 2002.
After starting over one hundred games on an offensive line in the NFL, however, the body will take quite a toll. Hamilton did not play a game in 2007 due to a concussion and at 33 years old, he certainly is not getting any younger.
Following last season, it was obvious that Hamilton was expendable. He no longer fit the Broncos’ offensive scheme and there were younger, more viable options to fill his position. While conducting a position-by-position analysis after the season concluded, one article in The Denver Post assumed Hamilton would retire following a nine-year career in the National Football League.
Then the Seahawks came calling.
Hamilton is obviously a good fit in Seattle’s blocking scheme, but can he still play? Are we going to have to watch another older lineman struggle to keep up with younger, healthier players?
According to Mike Sando of ESPN.com, Gibson will take over as the starter at left guard – for now. Sando also said that in his evaluation of both players, Gibson has been more impressive:
Mike Gibson will replace Ben Hamilton at left guard against the Vikings. He could stay there, I think, based on what we’ve seen from both players to this point.
Maybe Hamilton was only starting so he could mentor Russell Okung and aid in his development as a starting left tackle. Okung, however, will not be able to play for at least two more weeks following a high ankle sprain; ironically, Hamilton is the probable cause of the injury after landing hard on Okung’s leg against the Packers.
With Okung injured, Hamilton’s best asset, his knowledge of the zone-blocking scheme, is unnecessary. And if Mike Gibson is physically better than Hamilton, Pete Carroll’s theme of competition should prevail.
To make the situation a little trickier and definitely worth watching, however, Hamilton sat out of practice yesterday with an ice bag on his knee. On Tuesday, he worked as the second-unit center.
Is Hamilton’s demotion simply an opportunity for him to nurse injuries as the regular season approaches? More than likely, it is because of Mike Gibson’s superior play. Gibson will get an opportunity to prove himself and the starting job is probably his to lose at this point.
As the offensive line crumbles before our eyes, the left guard position will definitely be worth watching in the near future.
Tags: Alex Gibbs, Ben Hamilton, Denver Broncos, football, injury, Josh McDaniels, left guard, Mike Gibson, Minnesota Vikings, National Football League, nfl, offensive line, Pete Carroll, preseason, Russell Okung, Seahawks, Seattle Seahawks, zone-blocking scheme
The Denver Broncos have signed former Seahawks running back LenDale White to help bolster their depth in the offensive backfield.
The Seattle Seahawks traded for LenDale White in last April’s draft, but released the veteran less than a month later. Apparently, a combination of flaws led to White’s release.
White, who played for Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll while at the University of Southern California, was obviously disappointed he wasn’t given an opportunity in Seattle. On his way out, White openly criticized Pete Carroll and was noticeably upset.
LenDale White has compiled over 2,000 rushing yards during a four-year career and should be able to contribute some on the field this season with the Broncos.
Seattle plays Denver in the second week of the regular season, but White will not be available due to a four-game suspension administered by the league.