2013 was a very exciting year in the NFL. Offense continued to dominate the landscape, as a record number of points were scored. Games averaged 46.8 points per contest, the highest average in NFL history (46.5 in 1948). In all, 1,338 total touchdowns were scored, surpassing the league-wide record of 1,297, which occurred last season.
The Broncos and Seahawks are two of 11 teams to score at least 400 points this season. Those 11 teams surpassed the previous record of nine in 2008 and 2012. Those 11 teams combined for a .668 winning percentage, and nine qualified for the playoffs.
Every week, games seemed to go down to the wire, as 68 percent were within one score in the fourth quarter. In the end, seven points or fewer decided 123 of 256 games (48.0 percent), the fourth most of any season in NFL history.
This season, the Seahawks and Broncos were pretty dominating in victory. Including the playoffs, Seattle wins by two touchdowns per game (14.3) while the Broncos were even better in victory with a 15.8 average margin of victory.
The Super Bowl features a matchup of NFL’s top-rated offense (Denver) and league’s No. 1 defense (Seattle), which is the sixth time that has happened. The team with top defense has won four of previous five, with only exception being Denver falling to San Francisco 55-10 in 1990. Only once, have teams ranked first in yards gained and allowed met in Super Bowl. That was 11 years ago when the defense-minded Tampa Bay Buccaneers routed Oakland 48-21.
NFL referee Terry McAulay is leading an All-Star seven-man crew into Super Bowl XLVIII that has a combined 110 seasons of NFL officiating experience. But while officials have called just seven defensive pass interference penalties in 10 playoff games, the Seahawks and Broncos were among the league leaders in both defensive pass interference and defensive holding penalties during the regular season.
Here are more stats and facts, team and player specific, as we inch closer to the Big Game:
SEAHAWKS OFFENSE — OVERALL (17), RUSH (4), PASS (26)
SEAHAWKS DEFENSE — OVERALL (1), RUSH (7T), PASS (1)
For starters, the Seahawk is actually an osprey and is also known, as a fish eagle or fish hawk. According to Wikipedia, it is a diurnal fish-eating bird of prey. It is a large raptor, reaching more than two feet in length and almost six feet across the wings. It is brown on the upper parts and predominantly greyish on the head and under parts. Wikipedia made no mention of how this bird handles untrained or feral equine.
Seattle is the only team in the NFL’s post-merger history to have switched conferences twice. It began its existence in the NFC West in 1976, moved to the AFC West the following year (where it stayed until 2001), then returned to the NFC West after the 2002 league wide realignment.
During 38 full seasons of existence, the Seahawks have made 13 postseason appearances including three out of the last four years. They have won eight division championships and made three conference championship game appearances, winning two of them.
The Seahawks finished first in total defense and 17th in total offense. Their stout defense also ranked atop the league in scoring (14.4 PPG) and passing defense (172 YPG)
Head coach Pete Carroll leads the Seahawks. He is the eighth head coach in the team’s history and in four seasons with Seattle, including the playoffs, is 42-28. Carroll, 62, was formerly the New England Patriots’ head coach from 1997-99, beating the Baltimore Ravens during his final game there before heading to the University of Southern California and compiling a 97-19 record with two national championships.
Carroll is the fourth coach to lead an NCAA champion and make a Super Bowl appearance, following Barry Switzer (Oklahoma, Dallas Cowboys), Bobby Ross (Georgia Tech, San Diego Chargers) and Jimmy Johnson (Miami, Dallas Cowboys).
The Seahawks advanced to this year’s Super Bowl after being the NFC’s top seed for the first time in team history. The team has been a No. 3 seed on two occasions and a fourth seed on three others, mostly during its stay in the AFC.
Seattle posted its best regular-season record in team history (13-3) thanks in part to a plus-20 turnover ratio. They had a league-high 28 interceptions by 10 different players and are plus 3 in two playoffs games this year.
There are no Seahawk active-roster players on the current squad that appeared in their last Super Bowl appearance. That was SB XL vs. the Pittsburgh Steelers—a game they lost 21-10, at Detroit’s Ford Field.
Seattle is the first team since the Buffalo Bills appeared in Super Bowl XXV to appear in the big game without a single player with Super Bowl experience.
The Seahawks were the NFL’s most penalized team in 2013. They were flagged for 128 accepted penalties (8 per game) and a league-high 1,183 yards. Defensive end Michael Bennett and quarterback Russell Wilson are the team’s co-leaders with 10 penalties each. Cornerback Richard Sherman was called five times for pass interference and Seattle’s 13 interference calls co-led the league with Philadelphia.
WR-PR Golden Tate led the Seahawks with career-high 64 catches and 898 yards in 2013, while Doug Baldwin had 778 yards receiving in the regular season. Baldwin caught six passes for 106 yards in the NFC championship game. Seattle dropped 13 passes in 2013, according to SportingCharts.com, tied with San Diego for the league’s fewest.
Russell Wilson will attempt to become the first No.3 to win a Super Bowl. The only other quarterback to appear in the big game with that number was Oakland’s Daryle Lamonica during Super Bowl II.
During the regular season, Wilson completed 63 percent of his throws with 26 touchdowns, nine INT’s and a passer rating of 101.2. He is the sixth quarterback to start a Super Bowl during his first or second year in the league, following Colin Kaepernick, Ben Roethlisberger, Tom Brady, Kurt Warner and Dan Marino.
RB Marshawn Lynch, who created a big stir during the week by cutting short media availabilities, rushed for 1,257 yards and 12 TDs this season, his third straight season with at least 1,200 yards and 10 or more scores. In Beast Mode, Lynch has run for six TDs and has four 100-yard rushing performances in six career playoff games. He needs 5 yards rushing to pass Shaun Alexander (564) for the most in franchise postseason history.
The Seattle secondary will be able to match the Broncos size in terms of height, which could be advantage Hawks. The hard-hitting, blanket-covering secondary, nicknamed the “Legion of Boom,” sports three starters at 6-foot-1 or taller. Cornerbacks Byron Maxwell (6-foot-1) and Richard Sherman (6-foot-3), as well as safety Kam Chancellor (6-foot-3). Safety Earl Thomas, who is the shortest at 5-foot-10, has a team-leading 78 solo tackles with five interceptions.
Couldn’t leave out Richard Sherman could we—His eight pickoffs led the league, while Maxwell and Chancellor combined for seven.
And in case you have not gotten enough of Richard Sherman here is a little more. So far this postseason, Sherman has been targeted by opposing quarterbacks only twice, allowing exactly NO receptions. When targeting Sherman in two matchups during 2013, Drew Brees had identical passer ratings of 39.6 in each game. Tom Brady’s passer rating against Sherman is even worse – when New England visited Seattle in 2012, Brady’s passer rating when targeting Sherman was 6.5. In three games, neither QB threw a TD when targeting Sherman—-Good Luck Peyton!
K Steven Hauschka made 33 of 35 FGs in regular season & led the NFC with franchise-record 143 points. Hauschka has converted all six FG attempts in the playoffs and his performance vs. Seattle in the Divisional is a big reason why the Seahawks are here.
Arguably, the most popular fan of the team is also its owner, Microsoft founder and Seattle native Paul Allen—-Allen purchased the team in 1997 and he also owns the NBA’s Portland Trail Blazers and Major League Soccer’s Seattle Sounders. As of March 2013, Allen’s net worth is $15 billion
BRONCOS OFFENSE — OVERALL (1), RUSH (15), PASS (1)
BRONCOS DEFENSE — OVERALL (19), RUSH (7T), PASS (27)
Super Bowl XLVIII will be the Broncos’ seventh Super Bowl appearance, tied with New England for second most behind Dallas and Pittsburgh, who have eight each. Denver is one of four teams to have lost four Super Bowls, with Buffalo, Minnesota and New England. Yes– the Patriots can be mentioned in the same breath as the Bills and Vikings when talking about the SB. With the other breath you take, remember to mention the Pats have also won three while the Broncos have two on their resume.
Denver won back-to-back titles (Super Bowls XXXII and XXXIII) during the late ’90s, but it has been 15 years since they have been to the title game, the fourth-longest stretch for a city to have gone without Super Bowl representation, trailing only Baltimore (30 years, V to XXXV), San Francisco (18 years, XXIX to XLVII) and Pittsburgh (16 years, XIV to XXX).
The Broncos were born in the old AFL in 1960 and have only retired three numbers in team history. John Elway’s No.7, Floyd Little’s 44 and No.18, which used to be worn by another QB, Frank Tripuka.
Tripuka was 14-27-1 during the franchise first three seasons. While Tripuka did not perform as the current No.18 does, he was the first and the Broncos honored him as such when they retired the number following his retirement in 1963. On March 9, 2012, Tripuka gave permission to unretire the number for Manning. Tripuka, 85 died of congestive heart failure on September 12, 2013, at his home in New Jersey—one week after Manning tossed seven TD’s in a win over the defending Super Bowl champion Ravens.
The Broncos head coach is John Fox, one of the more under the radar and underappreciated sideline walkers in the game. Fox will turn 59 six days after the Super Bowl and is 37-16 during three years in Denver. He is 115-90 overall, taking into account his years with the Carolina Panthers. Fox took the Panthers to Super Bowl XXXVIII 10 years ago, when they fell to New England, 32-29. While many can say Fox road the coattails of Manning this year, he was also the HC when Tim Tebow led Denver to a playoff win, something Manning failed to do last season as the No.1 seed. And oh by the way— Jake Dellhome wasn’t exactly Joe Montana when he and Fox won the NFC 10 years ago.
Fox had heart-valve surgery midway through the season after collapsing on a golf course in Charlotte NC during the Broncos bye week back in the beginning of November.
The Broncos won the AFC West division in 2013 for a third straight year and the13th time overall, breaking Oakland’s intradivisional record. During the Super Bowl era, Denver has 27 winning seasons; 21 playoff appearances; and nine AFC Championship Game berths, winning seven of those games. The Broncos have grabbed the top AFC playoff seed seven times, including the 2013 season.
The Broncos entered 2013 with the league’s easiest schedule, using the previous season’s records. Denver is the first team since the 2010 Pittsburgh Steelers to register playoff wins against two teams to which it lost during the regular season, avenging defeats to San Diego and New England; the Steelers’ wins that year were against the Ravens and New York Jets.
The Broncos’ 606 points surpassed the 2007 New England Patriots (589) for the most in NFL history. Denver (37.9 points per game) also had the second-highest scoring average of any NFL team, trailing only the 1950 Los Angeles Rams (38.8).
Denver became the first team in NFL history to have five players score at least 10 touchdowns in the same season. The five Broncos with at least 10 touchdowns this season were Demaryius Thomas (14), Knowshon Moreno (13), Julius Thomas (12), Eric Decker (11) And Wes Welker (10). No other NFL team has had more than three different players score at least 10 touchdowns in a season in NFL history.
WR Demaryius Thomas had seven catches for 134 yards and TD in AFC championship game. He is the first Broncos player with two seasons of 1,400 yards receiving. WR Wes Welker has 79 catches for 762 yards and five TDs in 11 career postseason games but is 0-2 in the Super Bowl. Rookie sensation TE Julius Thomas set the team record for TEs with 12 TD catches. That is saying something considering Shannon Sharpe played in Denver for most of his career.
Peyton Manning (64,964) surpassed Dan Marino (61,361) for the second-most passing yards in NFL history. Manning (491 TD passes, 5,532 completions) now trails only Brett Favre (508 TDs; 6,300 completions; 71,838 yards) in those three major career-passing categories.
RB Knowshon Moreno had 1,038 yards rushing, first time he reached 1,000-yard milestone, and had career-best 13 TDs, including 10 on ground.
The Broncos are quick starters and may look to catch Seattle’s youth and inexperience napping to start SB 48. In 2013, Denver averaged 7.8 first-quarter points per game, second best in the league only to Kansas City and got points on a league-high 48 percent of its 202 drives, 8 percent higher than Seattle did.
Denver was the fourth-most penalized squad with 117 penalties for 1,000 yards, tied with Cincinnati for the fifth-most yards. It is thought to be the first time in Super Bowl history two top-five penalized teams are meeting for the title. The Broncos have been hit with 14 defensive holding calls, the league’s third most, as well as 10 pass interference penalties, also third most.
The Broncos dropped 35 passes in 2013, the eighth most in the league and an obvious casualty of how many times the Broncos throw the ball per game. Wes Welker’s 10 drops were second in the league only to Chicago’s Brandon Marshall (12) while WR Demaryius Thomas had eight drops and Eric Decker seven.
The Broncos’ offense scored an NFL-record 76 touchdowns this season beating New England’s 2007 total by one
K Matt Prater is over flu bug that caused him to miss three practices before team flew to New Jersey. The Denver kicker set an NFL record with 64-yard FG in December, and is 30 of 31 on FG attempts, including 5 for 5 in playoffs. Punter Britton Colquitt, son of ex-Pittsburgh punter Craig Colquitt and brother of Kansas City punter Dustin Colquitt, had one blocked punt, three touchbacks and 23 coffin-corner kicks out of his 65 punts in 2013.
CB Champ Bailey is playing in his first Super Bowl after 15 NFL seasons.
Bronco fans are hoping their team leads when Bruno Mars takes the stage Sunday night. Denver is now 14-1 all time in the postseason when leading at halftime, including 5-0 in AFC title games—but—the one loss occurred in Super Bowl XXI, when the Broncos led the Giants 10-9 at halftime before losing 39-20.
The Best for Last:
Each of the last 8 Super Bowl champions has played the Patriots at some point in their Super Bowl-winning season. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Patriots’ 8-year streak of having played the eventual Super Bowl champion is tied for the longest in NFL history with the 1989-96 Eagles and the 1968-75 Bills. New England’s streak does not go back further in part because the Patriots themselves won the Super Bowl following the 2003 and 2004 seasons. Moreover, each of the last 7 Super Bowl champions have also faced the Cowboys, Eagles, and Redskins in the regular season, which means each of those teams is tied for the 4th-longest streak of seasons playing the eventual Super Bowl champion. The Broncos played the NFC East this season, beating the Eagles in Week 4, the Cowboys in Week 5, and the Redskins in Week 8. They lost to the Patriots in Week 12 but avenged the defeat with a victory over New England in the AFC Championship Game. The Seahawks did not face any of those four teams in the regular season or playoffs
Join me tonight at 9:00 for the Super Bowl Friday Football Frenzy. Anything and everything you wanted to know about Super Bowl XLVII will be discussed. You will also hear the best radio interviews from the week on radio row. I will also have the best press conference clips of the week and of course, have the entire breakdown of Sunday’s big game.
Be sure to check Fanspeak tomorrow for the first of a two part game preview. I will be previewing the matchups that matter with the Broncos Offense vs. the Seattle defense and on Sunday, I will do the same for Seahawks offense vs. Broncos defense.
Stats information courtesy of NFL.com, ESPN Stats & Informationa and Press Box Online.com