The most potent offense in the NFL, the Denver Broncos, will face the Seattle Seahawks, the league’s stingiest defense, in Super Bowl XLVIII after Sunday’s conference championship victories. It also matches the less-boisterous Broncos opposite some of the most brash and talkative players and coaches in the game.
“It will be a great matchup,” Pete Carroll, the Seattle coach, said. “I think it’s an extraordinary opportunity to go against a guy (Payton Manning) that set all the records in the history of the game.”
The Broncos got there by defeating the New England Patriots 26-16, as Manning threw for 400 yards and two touchdowns in Denver. Hours later in Seattle, the Seahawks used a tipped ball by Richard Sherman into teammate Malcolm Smith’s hands for an interception in the end zone with 22 seconds left to preserve a 23-17 victory over last year ‘s Super Bowl participant San Francisco 49ers.
Moments after Sherman tipped Colin Kaepernick’s pass, he wildly ranted in a post-game interview on Fox about receiver Michael Crabtree being “sorry,” a display that was hardly the affable Sherman’s best moment.
“That’s as sweet as it gets,” Sherman said in a more controlled moment.
Seattle battled back from being down 10-0. Kaepernick’s ability to run staked San Francisco to the early advantage. But the Seahawks clamped down after halftime and used a 4th-and-7 pass from Russell Wilson to Jermaine Kearse with 13:44 left in the game. They held on from there, with the last-second interception the clincher.
Meanwhile, Denver, as it had all season, rode the brilliance of Manning and a defense that was stout to knock off the Patriots and Tom Brady.
The Broncos held the ball for 35:44. They were 7 for 13 on third-down conversions.
“To keep Tom Brady on the sideline is a good thing,” Manning said. “That’s something you try to do when you’re playing the Patriots.”
“We’ve definitely come a long way in two years,” Manning said. “And bouncing back from last year’s playoff loss to put ourselves in this position, it definitely feels very gratifying.”