Why Super Bowl XLVIII Was NOT One Of The Worst Super Bowls Ever
I had an interesting conversation with a good friend of mine the other day about Sunday’s Super Bowl and whether it was a “good quality” game or not. He mentioned Sunday’s Seahawks thrashing as on par with some of the least competitive games in Super Bowl history–with the likes of Super Bowl XX (Bears 46, Patriots 10), Super Bowl XXIV (49ers 55, Broncos 10), and Super Bowl XXXV (Ravens 34, Giants 7).
That comparison is more than fair. Seattle led after the first snap, and never looked back. Denver never established the offensive dominance that had brought them to the big game in the first place, and looked woefully unprepared both offensively and defensively. The game was a blowout, and not much fun for many football fans.
I, on the other hand, enjoyed the game. It may not have been as close as some of the last few Super Bowls, but that was okay with me. Here’s why:
For me, a couple of things go into deciding whether or not a big game like the Super Bowl is “good” or not. The biggest factor is the hype that the game gets. Seattle v. Denver in Super Bowl XLVIII was billed as a model “offense vs. defense” battle, as Denver’s top-ranked offense was set to go against Seattle’s top-ranked defense. It was a statistician’s dream matchup–the classic question of “Does defense really win championships?” was at hand.
The individual matchups were intriguing, too, with none better than Peyton Manning vs. Richard Sherman. Would the even-keeled Manning embarrass the outspoken Sherman, or would Sherman prove his dominance on the biggest stage he’s ever played on?
In short, these were the two best teams in the NFL, with the best offense and best offensive player going against the best defense and the best defensive player in the league. That’s what had me, and the rest of the NFL fanbase, excited for Super Bowl XLVIII.
What kept it as a “good” game for me was how Seattle won. They scored on a safety, field goal, offensive touchdown, defensive touchdown, and a kickoff return touchdown. They dominated the Broncos in every single facet of the game. That, to me, was incredibly entertaining. It got ugly–but in a fun way.
Had the game ended 28-14 and had punt after punt after punt, with a few scores mixed in, that wouldn’t have been as exciting for me. But the fact that Seattle never backed down and kept applying the pressure kept me wondering how ugly the game would get.
It’s probably also necessary to say what I consider a “bad” game in a contest like the Super Bowl. The worst Super Bowl that I’ve ever seen was Super Bowl XL between Pittsburgh and Seattle. Aside from some controversial calls that I had to be reminded of, the game was just dull. No one established a rhythm, there was no comeback… it just felt like a Week 5 game between two pretty good, but not great, teams. I distinctly remember walking away from that game feeling completely unsatisfied. The hype wasn’t there to begin with, and the way that the Steelers won was uninspiring.
I realized from my conversation with my friend that there is a difference between a “good” game and a competitive game. To me, they’re very different–take my opinion on Sunday’s Super Bowl as a prime example. The game wasn’t competitive in the least bit, but it was a “good” game to me.
As far as competitiveness, Super Bowl XLVIII did rank among the worst, with the likes of the other Super Bowls listed above. It was over from the start, and by halftime, there wasn’t much purpose in watching the rest of the game if a last-second finish was what you had in mind.
But look at it this way: in Super Bowl XX, the Bears were 10-point favorites (rather low if you ask me), and had a clearly superior team to the Patriots. They were expected to win, and the game reflected that all too well. In Super Bowl XXIV, the 49ers were 12-point favorites, once again reflecting how dominant the Niners were heading into that game. Their 45-point blowout victory could not have been much fun to watch. The Ravens were only three-point favorites in Super Bowl XXXV, but I can vividly remember thinking that the Giants offense was no match for Ray Lewis and the Ravens defense. That turned out to be entirely true, and the game was rather uncompetitive.
This past Sunday, the Broncos were actually two-point favorites heading into the game. It ended up as a blowout, but rather unexpectedly. And I think this is why I enjoyed the game so much–I didn’t see a 35-point victory coming. I didn’t see Peyton Manning’s collapse coming. The element of surprise kept me interested in Sunday’s game.
Fans obviously look for a competitive game in the Super Bowl, which is why so many felt underwhelmed by Sunday’s blowout. That’s fair, last-second finishes are always preferable to 43-8 blowouts, but there’s just so much more to me in a Super Bowl than a final score and the designation of “blowout” or “close game.”