Looking Back at Super Bowl XLVIII

2014_superbowl_header_lg

The Philosophical Bear enlisted its U.S. correspondents to talk about their favorite American holiday, the Super Bowl. Simrath Randhawa, Rob Schwartz, and Munish Sethi joined Rishi in recapping the highlights and lowlights of the game, the entertainment, the commercials, and more.

The Horizons of Our Minds

The Super Bowl is a major American event, perhaps the modern American event. In one day it combines sports, pop culture, television, the Internet, and consumerism in a way few single events can. As Bob Dylan asked in Chrysler’s Super Bowl spot: Is there anything more American than America? The sheer tautological correctness of that can’t be disputed. And what is America if not the mass spectacle of the Super Bowl? The day brings Americans of all backgrounds together with family, friends, and acquaintances to stuff our faces silly and be sold stuff. Nothing attracts more American eyeballs to their television sets than this confluence of sports, music, commercials, gambling, food, drinks, and parties.

Of course, like many others, I was excited to sit in front of the big screen with a generous helping of food in front of me, especially with such a tantalizing matchup of football styles and personalities in the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks. Naturally, the television, food, conversation, and my own thoughts were not enough to keep my attention, so I kept tabs on Twitter to see how the social media sphere was reacting to the events of the evening.

Here’s the thing, former NFL punter Chris Kluwe, Anonymous news source, and dead British guy. You might be right. This Orwell line from 1984 is still pretty apropos.

Also shut up.

We’re watching this and having a good time. What is the point of living life in a civilized society if not to distract us from our own mortality, repressed urges, and social problems with a violent game played by abnormally gifted and compensated humans for teams owned by absurdly wealthy people, representing two cities most of us don’t live in.

History Will Be Made

The Seattle Times called Super Bowl 48 the most important game in Seattle sports history. I don’t think that was an exaggeration.

Prior to Super Bowl Sunday, this was the complete list of Seattle teams that had won one of North America’s major professional sports trophies (NFL, NBA, NHL, MLB).

Neither of those teams currently exists.

The Sonics moved to Oklahoma City in 2008. The Metropolitans won the Cup before the National Hockey League (and most current humans) existed, and the team folded in 1924. Most people have never even heard of them. The Seattle Mariners have never won a World Series. The Seahawks had lost their only Super Bowl appearance. The Seattle Sounders have won three U.S. Open cups, but never the MLS championship.

On February 2, 2014 at 6:25 Eastern Time, the WNBA’s Seattle Storm were the only team still existing in the 206 area code that owned any league titles (2004 and 2010).

So yeah, I think this game was big for Seattle sports fans.

The Game

East Rutherford, NJ.

Best team in the NFC versus best team in the AFC. The top rated defense versus the top rated offense.  I anticipated  a fun game, an intriguing stylistic contrast, and an evenly played meeting of the unstoppable force and immovable object.  It proved more one-sided than I could have imagined.

National Anthem. Flyover. Fireworks. Joe Namath, fur coat, premature coin flip. Seattle to kick off, Denver to receive. Game on.

https://twitter.com/mcuban/status/430123181974626305

The first play from scrimmage is a safety off a badly snapped ball that sails into the Bronco’s own end zone.

Billionaire businessman and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban was joking of course. He didn’t really make this bet, and the real odds at sports books were in the 50 or 60-1 range for a safety to be the first (or last) score of the game. Still it was a ridiculous start to the game. Almost had to be rigged, for that bet to have hit three years in a row. Gamblers must have been going nuts.

Seattle 2 Denver 0 We didn’t know it yet, but the game was over. That miscue proved indicative of how the game would go for the Broncos.

From there the Seahawks never looked back, they had the lead for the next 59 minutes and 48 seconds (a Super Bowl record), and grew it by scoring every which way: rushing, passing, defense, special teams. It was an absolutely dominating performance in every phase of the game by the Seahawks. Denver was the highest scoring team in NFL history and nothing they did worked. Seattle just kept coming in waves, play after play proving to be faster, better, stronger, and smarter. It was a complete performance.

Denver kept Marshawn Lynch and the Seattle running game mostly in check. That was about it for their positives. The Seahawks defensive linemen kept Peyton Manning skittish the entire game. The linebackers and secondary doled out the punishment to any Bronco who dared to touch the ball, and created 4 turnovers. Russell Wilson and the offense didn’t give up a sack or a turnover, and converted third downs and big passes when needed. A finally healthy Percy Harvin proved to be an absolute spark plug for the offense and special teams.

There’s not much else to say about the game itself, the third biggest blowout in Super Bowl history. For three plus hours we watched the game get further and further out of reach, and the sense of total bewilderment felt by Broncos was almost painful to watch. It was undoubtedly physically painful for the Broncos to take so much punishment from the Seahawks powerful defenders. The bewilderment felt by Denver and probably many viewers didn’t seem to stem from any tactical failure, but from the realization that the Broncos were being completely out executed, nothing they tried could change it, and that this was really happening. Denver made some self-inflicted mistakes but this game was about everyone on Seattle outperforming their opponents and earning this championship. We witnessed a coronation. 

Final Score: Seattle 43 Denver 8

peyton dog face

Memories

We’ll remember a few standout plays. The Kam Chancellor hit on Demaryius Thomas that seemed to set the tone early. The interceptions. The constant pressure on Manning. The Percy Harvin kickoff return off. A few great throws by Russell Wilson. Jermaine Kearse pin-balling off 5 defenders for a TD. But mostly we’ll remember that it was a rout, the Seahawk’s physicality felt overwhelming, and that the Broncos and Peyton Manning never mustered anything resembling a competent comeback attempt. We’ll remember this Seahawks defense seeming to live up to every football cliché of being a tough, hard-nosed, black & blue, pain-inflicting unit. The enduring memory may be how every Seattle tackle seemed to send a Bronco flying backwards a few yards.

I’m running out of ways to express that Seattle was totally dominant in this game. So in conclusion, here’s a defining image.

This man is tougher than you

Sir Patrick Stewart (at age 73!) doing one-handed pushups in a Russell Wilson jersey. I think that nicely sums up Seattle’s winning performance.

As for Denver’s performance:

shrug

Yeah. That pretty much says it.

OK, 1 more image that paints a thousand words

Simrath: I uncovered this gem via @celebrityhottub on twitter: “You’ll understand Seattle’s defense after you see the official picture of their strength & conditioning coach.”

Strength Coach

Terrifying.

The Real Winners and Losers

Rishi:  Winners: The MVP award should have been shared by the entire Seattle defense. And maybe Percy Harvin. Actually everyone should get a piece, after a performance like this they were all winners, from the front office to the 12th man. Even Macklemore.

Losers: Denver Broncos, futile Super Bowl records (Peyton Manning’s  34 completions and Demaryius Thomas’ 13 receptions), Seattle Sounders FC, Ryan Lewis

Rob:  Winners: Percy Harvin, Russell Wilson, Legion of Boom, Marijuana, Pete Carroll, 12th Man, Joe Namath, Defense, Eli Manning

Losers: Peyton Manning, Trindon Holliday, Offense, Joe Namath

Munish: Winners: Adderall, ganja, West Coast, respectful rioting by Seattleites, Skittles, Percy Harvin, Tim Tebow, 9/11 conspiracy guy, defense

Losers: Peyton Manning, Omaha, Analytics, Fox Sports, the audience for not getting another amazing post game interview from Richard Sherman

Simrath: Winner: Kris Richard. Sometimes, in the National. Football. League. It is about the X’s and O’s and not about the Jims and Joes. Shout out to the defensive backs coach of one of the greatest secondaries in league history for shutting down the man with all the records and paper championships.

Loser: Broncos center Manny Ramirez: Just Manny being Manny. Double Least Valuable Player status for then calling out Peyton Manning after the game and blaming him for the botched snap that basically decided the game 12 seconds in.

What is Eli Manning thinking?

Eli

Rob: “Unstoppable. Peyton Manning isn’t.”

“Welp that settles it. This field is Manning-proof.”

“Don’t smile don’t smile don’t smile don’t smile.

Munish:  “Hope mom still makes meatloaf for dinner.”

“Dad is going to ground us again, dammit Peyton.”

“I came here for this shit? I could have been watching Sherlock.”

“I think I just pooped myself.”

Quick Thoughts on Halftime

Rishi: It was fine, I guess. Bruno Mars performed well and at least the Red Hot Chili Peppers wore pants, even if they faked the guitar playing. But why didn’t they go with the NY/NJ theme and try some sort of Jay-Z /Bruce Springsteen combo?

Rob: Janet Jackson’s > Anthony Kiedis’s

Munish: Wow that wasn’t actually the worst thing ever like I expected.

Simrath: What does it say about a band and its members when they perform a song the exact same way at 48 as they did when they were 23? Bravo RHCP, best Super Bowl halftime show since someone in the Jackson family was involved.

What Gambling Problem?

Simrath: “I don’t even like sports anymore”. This was the last in a series of pathetically serious and angry texts I received from a friend after Jermaine Kearse’s touchdown (when Denver basically forgot it wasn’t two hand touch). My friend was not mad because of the score, but because Kerase dropped an earlier touchdown that would have given him two for the game and a good chance at being named Super Bowl MVP. My friend had bet on Keasre winning the MVP at 200:1 odds.

Just tell us about the commercials already

Rishi: TEBOWWWWWW!!!!!!! Whoa, Tebow goes meta, funnily playing into all the Tebow hoopla as the most interesting contract-less quarterback in the world. The America is Beautiful ad was inspired and a savvy move by Coca-Cola.

Munish: The best commercial was Puppy Love by Budweiser. The rest all sucked.

Simrath: The best ad was the John Stamos for Greek Yogurt. It catered to the crass college crowd and Cialis demographic at the same time.

The worst ad was Axe Peace. It’s probably not a good thing, that after watching that ad, I’ve been too distracted all day to finish a paper because of how ashamed I am of once using Axe 8 years ago. Axe is the leading deodorant brand in India, and I can say I’ve never been more embarrassed to be Indian than I am now.

Snacks on Snacks on Snacks

Leo Dips my food

Rishi: On the left is allegedly a picture of Leonardo DiCaprio, and an assortment of snacks and dips he has for the big game. And on the right is my own spread with pizza, pulled pork, garlic bread, and yes lots of dips. See. Stars, they’re just like us. The Super Bowl brings America together.

Simrath: So, this happened.

They Said What?!

Rishi: The best political zinger of the night went to Hillary Clinton

Simrath: Inspired by Andrew Sharp of Grantland, here are some of the worst of the #HotSportsTakes from the Super Bowl.

Lighting the Stove: Cris Carter had called them appetizers before the game. They responded on the field with their play, and then in their post game comments. So Carter replies to Super Bowl champions and touchdown scorers Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse: “It’s well beyond that. They need to be concerned with OTAs next year when he’s back to being the third or fourth guy. Congratulations tonight though.”

Heating Up: Mike Lupica on Richard Sherman

Bringing the ZZZZS to HOTZZZZZZ: A doctor predicts that Tom Brady and the Patriots will win. And of course some incredibly reasonable and totally unbiased Bostonian columnists comment on Peyton Manning.

En Fuego:9/11 conspiracy theorist interrupts Super Bowl MVP Malcolm Smith   

Spitting Straight Lava: Look who came to spoil the party.

This is why we can’t have good things in this world.

Rob: JUST FOUND THE BEST PART OF THE SUPER BOWL:  This Broncos Fan was upset (Warning: lots of cursing is involved)

A Final Word from Richard Sherman

Richard Sherman

drop the mic

Thanks for joining us everyone. Congrats to the Seahawks.

Rishi Sethi is a Philosophical Bear editor. Rob Schwartz, Munish Sethi, and Simrath Randhawa are contributors. You can contact them on Twitter.

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