NEW YORK – Unless you’ve been in a coma for some time now, you already know Super Bowl XLVIII is the matchup of the Denver Broncos’ No. 1-rated offense and the Seahawks’ No. 1-rated defense.
Denver’s defense, just 19th in total yards and 22nd in points allowed, and the Seattle offense, which ranked 17th in total yards while the Seahawks finished tied for eighth in the NFL in scoring, are nowhere near as accomplished or decorated.
Everyone loves an underdog story, and perhaps that’s why I can’t escape the feeling it will be the winner of that second matchup that wins the game.
Danny Trevathan is Denver’s leading tackler and best defensive player, and he’s certainly not taking the Seahawks’ offense lightly, particularly running back Marshawn Lynch.
“[Lynch] refuses to go down,” Trevathan said. “You don’t find many running backs that don’t try to avoid contact. As a linebacker, I like the challenge. I’m not one to talk a lot, but I enjoy watching his running style. It’s going to be an honor to play with him.”
Trevathan is impressed, but clearly not backing down.
Could Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson be the difference?
“I think he’s an excellent quarterback,” Broncos safety Mike Adams said. “He got his team to the Super Bowl and that’s what teams draft quarterbacks for, to get to the Super Bowl and to win the Super Bowl. I think he did a tremendous job with the offense.”
The Seahawks’ Pro Bowl center, Max Unger, knows they have to run the ball to be successful.
“It’s something that, at the beginning of the year, we wanted to obviously put that as our first priority,” Unger said.
Pete Carroll is hoping Percy Harvin might be the difference.
“He’s a terrific football player, with the dynamics of the tremendous speed that he has, the intensity that he brings when the ball’s in his hands – how he carries it, he runs like a running back – he’s unusually aggressive and he’s such a versatile athlete, that you have a lot of opportunities to do different things with him,” Carroll said. “We haven’t had the opportunity to demonstrate how that’s going to all work out and fit with our club yet, but this will be an opportunity to get him involved.”
The Denver defense will have answers.
Denver’s defense played its best football late in the year and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie has an explanation.
“We kept hearing our offense is always saving us and that kind of makes you mad,” Rodgers-Cromartie said. “You have to re-evaluate and check yourself. We definitely did that as a defense. We looked at things that were going on, we got some guys healthy and just started to roll.”
Defensive coordinato Jack Del Rio said he thinks his young linebackers can be the difference.
“I think Trevathan is a guy who’s ascending and has really become a strong player for us,” Del Rio said. “I would call him an emerging player. Very productive, very instinctive. I think he’s got a very bright future.”
“Just the commitment to playing good team defense,” coach John Fox said. “Really, you take 11 guys, and it’s pretty much true in all phases, but its 11 guys all doing their job and trusting the guy next to them to do their job.”
• Hub Arkush covers the Bears and pro football for Shaw Media. Write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.