SUPER BOWL 48 WAS NO CONTEST
SU NOT LIKELY TO TAKE IRISH LIGHTLY
AMERKS ON A ROLL
Seattle Seahawks 43, Denver Broncos 8. So much for theory that if Super Bowl 48 was going to be lopsided, the high-powered, record-smashing Broncos would be on the winning end.
This was set up to be a celebration of Peyton Manning. At least that’s what most of us who picked Denver to beat Seattle expected.
Manning was the 6-to-5 favorite to be the game’s Most Valuable Player. The short odds were ridiculous, but who else?
Oops. Less than 24 hours after being named the league’s MVP for an unprecedented fifth time, Manning was the Least Valuable Player of arguably the biggest game of his career. He had a lot of company as many of his teammates failed to show up for duty.
This was Manning’s opportunity to silence the critics who pointed to his modest 11-11 career record in the postseason. Now he’s 1-2 in Super Bowls and must be wondering if he’ll reach another one.
Manning enjoyed arguably the finest regular season ever by an NFL quarterback. But on Sunday he played one of his worst games at the worst possible time. And he couldn’t even blame the weather.
The big winner Sunday was Seattle’s defense. It dominated Denver’s supposedly unstoppable offense as the Seahawks took a commanding 22-0 lead into halftime and were never threatened.
Most of us expected a great game – by both teams. It turned out to be one of the most lopsided.
I picked Denver to win 35-24. I’m embarrassed. I know how Peyton Manning feels this morning.
Some highlights and lowlights:
Turning point of the game – The first snap from scrimmage...Denver center Manny Ramirez snapped the ball over Manning’s head...downed in the end zone by Seattle for a 2-0 lead. Things never got any better for the Broncos.
Most significant stat – Seattle four takeaways...Denver 0 takeaways.
Unsung heroes – Seattle’s defensive linemen. They had consistent pressure on Manning (with a four-man rush) and had him frustrated and off balance for the entire game.
Most impressive “secret” weapon – Seattle’s Percy Harvin. Fully recovered from a concussion that kept him out of the NFC championship win over San Francisco, he touched the ball four times for 137 yards: 2 carries for 30 and 15 yards; 1 catch for 5 yards; started the second half with an 87-yard kickoff return for a TD.
Most misleading individual Super Bowl record – Manning’s 34 completions. He also threw 2 INTs and had a season-low 24.4 QB rating.
Most surprising stat – Seattle RB Marshawn Lynch was nearly as quiet in the game as he was all week in sessions with the media. He carried 15 times for only 39 yards. Containing Lynch was a priority for the Broncos and one of the few things they got right.
Interesting stats – Manning set a Super Bowl record for completed passes, Lynch averaged 2.6 yards per carry and Seattle won by 35 points.
The real MVP – No major gripe regarding Seattle LB Malcolm Smith winning the truck as the official MVP (he became the first player to score on an INT and recover a fumble in the same Super Bowl game; he also had six solo tackles), but I’d have voted for the team’s entire defensive unit (I know, it is difficult to award a truck to 11 guys) or second-year Seahawks QB Russell Wilson, who was terrific (18x25 for 206 yards; 2 TD passes; 0 INTs; 123.1 passer rating) and thoroughly outplayed Manning.
SYRACUSE IS NO. 1 AFTER EPIC WIN OVER DUKE
It was a much-anticipated game that lived up to the massive hype: Syracuse 91, Duke 89 in overtime before 35,446 Saturday evening at the Carrier Dome.
Coach Jim Boeheim’s Orange was ranked No. 2 in the nation entering the game and will be ranked No. 1 when they host Notre Dame Monday night. That’s because formerly top-ranked Arizona lost 60-58 at California Saturday night. Arizona also lost star forward Brandon Ashley -- out for the season – with a broken foot.
SU doesn’t figure to have much trouble against Notre Dame Monday night (7 p.m. on WHAM-1180 and ESPN). The Irish are 12-10, including 3-6 in the ACC, and 15-point underdogs. The best-scenario for Notre Dame is excellent shooting performances by long-range gunners Eric Atkins (41x112 from 3-point range) and Pat Connoughton (140x296). SU worked too hard vs. Duke to come out sluggish vs. Notre Dame.
Did the zebras help SU beat Duke? The numbers suggest yes. Duke was whistled for 25 fouls to 15 for SU. Duke was 12x17 from the foul line. SU was 26x32 (81.3 percent). Three Duke players fouled out. No SU player had more than three fouls.
SU’s zone defense is a big reason for the disparity in fouls. So was SU taking the ball into the teeth of Duke’s defense. But while Duke was hit with several fouls on minimum contact, the referees did not call an apparent hack on a missed dunk by Duke in the final minute of overtime.
But full credit to Boeheim and his players. C.J. Fair and Jerami Grant were excellent. Tyler Ennis continued to impress (14 points, 9 assists, 2 turnovers). Rakeem Christmas continues to improve and has become a force in the middle.
But the referees don’t figure to be quite as friendly to SU in the rematch at Duke, Saturday, Feb. 22. The Blue Devils probably will be favored and will be very tough to beat.
AMERKS SHOULD IMPRESS BUFFALO CROWD
The red-hot Rochester Americans play three straight “home” games this week: Syracuse Crunch Wednesday and Hershey Berars Friday at Blue Cross Arena at the War Memorial, and Grand Rapids Griffins Saturday at Buffalo’s First Niagara Center. Sabres fans figure to be impressed by the Amerks considering how well the team has played lately.
Rochester has won seven straight games – including five on the road – by a combined 28-10. The Amerks have improved to 22-15-3-3 and have outscored opponents 126-119.
They’ve been solid at home (12-5-1-2; outscored opponents 64-50) and respectable on the road (10-10-2-1; outscored 69-61). They rank 10th in the 340-team AHL on the power play7 (36x191; 18.8 percent). They rank 24th in pernalty killing (164x208; 78.8 percent) but are improving in that department.
The roster is stronger and healthier than it has been all season and Nathan Lieuwen has been the hottest goalie in the league (5-2-1; 1.23 goals-against average; .959 save percentage in his last 8 games). No one is talking Calder Cup yet, but there are encouraging signs.
FOR THE RECORD: BILLS IN THE SUPER BOWL
Super Bowl 25 ... Lost 21-20 to New York Giants...favored by 7...over/under 40.5 points
Super Bowl 26...Lost 37-24 to Washington...7-point underdog...over/under 49
Super Bowl 27...Lost 52-17 to Dallas...6 ½-point underdog...over/under 44.5
Super Bowl 28...Lost 30-13 to Dallas...10 ½-point underdog...over/under 50.5.
The NHL’s two-worst teams square off Monday night: Edmonton Oilers at Buffalo Sabres. The Oilers are 18-33-6 (44 of 114 possible points in the standings; outscored by 47 goals, 194 to 147). The Sabres are 15-31-8 (38 of 104 possible points in the standings; outscored by 56 goals, 161 to 105).
New York Rangers captain Ryan Callahan will be an unrestricted free agent after this season. The Sabres figure to be interested. He’s 28 and in the final season of a three-year contract worth $4.275 million per season. He reportedly is hoping for a 7-year deal worth $42 million. That’s a long time, but he’s a rugged winger with a bit of a scoring touch. Coming from Rochester is a bonus. A little extra rooting interest can’t hurt.
I have no idea how they counted spectators for Saturday at the Phoenix Open at TPC Scottsdale, but the “estimated” 189,722 was impressive none the less.