Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Don't Blame Peyton. The Broncos Loss was a Team Effort.

It took me a long time before I finally gave up hope. Even after Percy Harvin’s kick return, I still believed Peyton could do it. That he could bring them back. When he threw the touchdown to Demaryius Thomas, I thought, “Now here comes the comeback.” 

But it never happened. It was like waiting for a date to show. Every near miss from a receiver. Every missed tackle. Someone was supposed to show up. Something was supposed to happen and it never did. The game was there’s for the taking and Denver never even lifted a finger. Not because they weren’t capable, but because they played not to lose. When two teams make it to the super bowl, one is never significantly better than the other. Denver had the best offense in history. These were professional athletes. They were all prepared. All capable.Yet Denver might as well have been a star struck college team while Seattle played like they knew who they were. This is why the game was so frustrating to watch. Seattle did whatever they wanted. 

The Broncos O-line allowed Seattle to push them back the entire game. Peyton was constantly under pressure. They played on their heels. The defense never looked aggressive. Denver’s corners were never physical and kept giving soft coverage that gave Seattle all the room they wanted across the field. Even when they were down four touchdowns, Denver still played conservative. Played safe. Didn’t blitz. Didn’t play press coverage. Just played on their heels while Wilson threw wherever he wanted. He hadn’t played that well all season. The Broncos defense gave Seattle’s receivers so much space they were asking them to please not score. While Jack Del Rio and the Denver D clearly spent the entire two weeks planning to stop Marshawn Lynch, Seattle created plays that allowed Russell Wilson to be the confident quarterback he has become. His throws on the run will gain the attention, but his precision throwing across the middle will most incredible. While labeled the “other quarterback”, Wilson affirmed that the Super Bowl is not won or lost squarely on the shoulders of the man under center. It‘s won as a team. Seattle kicked Denver’s ass as a complete team.

As a Manning fan and therefore a Denver fan, watching that game was maddening. Not because they lost. Losing happens. But losing shouldn’t happen the way it did last night.  

When Manning was asked if it was embarrassing, he replied, “It’s not embarrassing... Embarrassing is an insulting word.” The truth is, though, it was embarrassing. Not for Manning, but for the men around him. The ridiculous legacy talk will swirl around him but his teammates should feel embarrassed for letting their leader down. Peyton had a record setting performance last night to cap off a record setting season. But football is a team game. It’s the ultimate team game. No other sport even comes close. One player is only as good as the others around him. 

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