Matched opposite renown veteran quarterback Peyton Manning in Super Bowl XLVIII Sunday in East Rutherford, N.J., it was the Seattle Seahawks’ Russell Wilson, in his second NFL season, making history, not the Denver Broncos’ future Hall of Famer.
Wilson performed with poise and grace, making heady plays in key moments–the few key moments there were at MetLife Stadium, that is–in directing Seattle to a dominating 43-8 victory for the franchise’s first championship.
Led by Wilson and an impenetrable defense that made Manning look less than ordinary, Seattle took a 2-0 on a safety on the game’s first play from scrimmage after a bad snap into the end zone and never looked back.
And so, Wilson became the second quarterback to start and win a Super Bowl, joining the Washington Redskins’ Doug Williams.
“It’s something I think about, to be the second African-American to win the Super Bowl,” Wilson said. “That’s history right there, man. It’s something special and it’s real. There are so many guys before (me) who have tried to change the game and have done a great job of it.”
Wilson handled his job admirably. The grandson of Harrison B. Wilson, former president of Norfolk State University, showed composure and leadership as Manning struggled against Seattle’s so-called Legion of Boom defense. Wilson completed seven of his first 10 passes on the first two drives — including a 37-yarder to Doug Baldwin — to set up a pair of early field goals and the tone for the runaway win. He was efficient the entire evening, completing 18 of 25 passes for 206 yards and two touchdowns.
“We’ve been relentless all season,” Wilson said. “Having that mentality of having a championship day every day. At the end of the day, you want to play your best football and that is what we did.”
And how. The matchup of the top offense in Denver against the No. 1-rated defense in Seattle produced the opposite of the anticipated tough duel. It was a blowout of epic proportions. Wilson led the charge, but he was aided by a host of teammates, including linebacker Malcolm Smith, who was named MVP for his 67-yard interception return for a touchdown and often-injured Percy Harvin, who returned a kickoff 87 yards for another TD.
“This is an amazing team,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. “Took us four years to get to this point, but they never have taken a step sideways. These guys would not take anything but winning this ballgame.”
Richard Sherman, the cornerback who received much attention Super Bowl week for his rant after the NFC Championship game win over San Francisco, suffered a high ankle sprain late in the game, but helped shut down a Denver offense that was thought to be unstoppable. Manning was 34-for-49 for 280 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions. The Seattle physical, swarming defense never allowed Manning, who threw an NFL-record 55 touchdowns in the regular season, to gain a rhythm.
“The only way we could say we were the best defense was to take down the best offense,” linebacker Bobby Wagner said.
The Seahawks did just that.