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Most NFL fans and pundits thought that Super Bowl XLVIII, pitting the league’s best offense against the league’s best defense, would be a game for the ages. The two teams looked very evenly matched on paper, and there was a lot of buzz heading into the contest.
As just about everyone reading these words undoubtedly knows, the Seattle Seahawks didn’t just beat the Denver Broncos on Sunday. They humiliated them. The Seahawks picked up a safety on the first play from scrimmage and never looked back, decimating the Broncos 43-8 in one of the most lopsided Super Bowl victories in history.
The magnitude of the victory, and the degree to which the Seahawks were able to shut down Peyton Manning’s prolific offense, immediately drew some comparisons to another team that was able to win the Big Game in convincing fashion: the 1985 Chicago Bears. In Super Bowl XX, the Bears allowed an opening drive field goal to the New England Patriots, but destroyed them through the rest of the game, winning a 46-10 laugher and finishing off one of the most dominant seasons in NFL history.
With that in mind, one question begs to be asked: was the Seahawks’ demolition of the Broncos a more impressive victory than that of the 1985 Bears, largely regarded to be one of, if not the best, NFL teams ever assembled?
Looking at raw numbers from the game itself, the Bears would appear to have an edge. They held the Patriots to just 12 first downs, seven rushing yards, and 116 passing yards. They also forced six turnovers in the game (four fumbles, two interceptions), and dominated time of possession by a nearly 2/1 margin. As for the Bears’ offense, they racked up 408 yards, including 167 on the ground, and saw Jim McMahon throw for 256 yards while rushing for two touchdowns in the easy victory.
As for the Seahawks, their numbers were good, but not quite as impressive. The Broncos still managed 17 first downs in the game, and while they only rushed for 27 yards, Manning threw for 280 and set a Super Bowl record for most completions in a game with 34. He did throw two interceptions, including one that was returned for a touchdown.
On the offensive side of the ball, the Seahawks were good, but not quite to the level of the Bears. Russell Wilson threw for 206 yards in the game, including two touchdowns, and also rushed for 26 yards. The Seahawks did rack up 135 yards rushing in the contest, giving them an impressive total of 341 yards of offense.
If we were just judging solely by what the Bears and Seahawks did in their respective Super Bowl victories, then the Bears would come out on top. Of course, the Broncos and Patriots offenses were on completely different levels in terms of quality, so that has to be taken into account as well.
Coming into Super Bowl XX, the Patriots were the 10th best offense in the NFL, scoring 362 points and racking up 5499 yards. Steve Grogan, the man who started the Super Bowl for the Patriots that year, only played seven regular season games, throwing for 1311 yards to go along with seven touchdowns and five interceptions in those contests.
As for the Broncos, their offense was, in a word, incredible. Manning threw for 5477 yards, nearly outgaining the 1985 Patriots all by himself. He also threw for 55 touchdowns, an NFL record, and only threw 10 interceptions in 16 games. As a whole, the Broncos’ offense was the top unit in the league, racking up a record 7317 yards and scoring 606 points, also an NFL record.
When you consider how formidable the opponent was that the Seahawks went up against and bested on Sunday night, it is remarkable to consider the margin of victory. The 35-point blowout was the largest in a Super Bowl since the 1986 game that the Bears won, and the Seahawks are also tied with those Bears for being the youngest team (26.4 years is the average age for a player on both clubs) to ever win the championship.
From a regular season perspective, these Seahawks compare favorably to those Bears as well. Seattle led the league in points allowed, yards allowed, and takeaways, the first club to lead the league in all three of those categories since…..
With all of those numbers in mind, the Seahawks should rightfully be able to claim the title of most dominant Super Bowl performance ever. Yes, the Broncos gained more yards than the Patriots did, but the fact of the matter is that the Denver offense, which had been touted for weeks as the best that the game has ever offered, was held completely in check by an incredible Seattle effort.
Whether it was the front four putting constant pressure on Manning, the secondary taking away passing lanes and picking off two different passes, or the sheer violence of each and every hit they delivered to a Broncos player, these Seahawks were out for blood, and were eerily reminiscent of those 1985 Bears.
You have the numbers in front of you. You witnessed both with your own eyes. Which team was more dominant, Bears fans: the 1985 Monsters of the Midway, or the 2013 Legion of Boom?