The weekend was probably more sad than anything else for football fans in the Seattle area, but we here at the Spectator feel compelled to write about the NFL playoffs regardless of the feelings of Seahawks fans.
Tom Brady and Peyton Manning squared off for what will probably be their last competitive meeting on the professional stage, given that Manning will likely retire at the end of this season. Needless to say, the excitement level in Denver was sky high (get it?) by the time kickoff rolled around last Sunday morning.
Denver’s game plan going into the 17th Manning-Brady matchup must have had a defensive focus, because the Bronco defensive line provided much needed pressure on Brady throughout the contest. Edge rushers DeMarcus Ware and Von Miller kept Brady uncomfortable in the pocket and the interior pass rush, designed by Wade Phillips, added to the impressive sack total for Denver’s defense. Brady was sacked four times and physically bothered twenty times in the course of the game.
The intensity of the Denver pass rush should come as no surprise to fans who have watched the Broncos play this season. They recorded an NFL best 52 sacks in the course of the regular season. But what was most impressive about Denver’s interior pressure was the fact that they didn’t need to blitz all that often to get to Brady—they simply bullied their way inside the pocket and disrupted a Patriot offense that thrives on quick release passes to Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola in the middle of the field. Seahawk fans will remember this style of offense well (think Edelman with a double move at the goal line).
Linebacker Von Miller collected four tackles, one interception, four quarterback hits and 2.5 sacks, setting a new Broncos single-game record in the postseason. Defensive end Derek Wolfe made six tackles and sacked Brady once. Linebacker DeMarcus Ware recorded a half-sack and seven quarterback hits.
Bothered in the pocket, Brady managed to complete just 27 of his 56 passing attempts for 310 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. On the flip side, Manning threw for just 156 yards and two touchdowns on 17-of-32 attempts, however, he did not record an interception, which proved to be the deciding factor of the matchup.
When Brady threw a game-ending interception at the goal line, Seahawk fans should have garnered some degree of comfort. The play was reminiscent of Russell Wilson’s season ending pick against the Patriots in last year’s Super Bowl. If you’re reading this, what goes around comes around, Tom Brady.
After the Broncos defeated the Pats 20-18, Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers squared off against Carson Palmer and the Arizona Cardinals in the afternoon game. The matchup was the first of its kind to feature a pair of Heisman award winning quarterbacks, however, it was everything but a competitive matchup.
From the outset, Arizona was outmatched. Palmer threw four interceptions while Newton threw a pair of touchdowns and ran the ball across the goal line himself for another two. Additionally, Carolina had possession of the football for almost 15 minutes more than the Cardinals and collected almost two hundred more yards than the Arizona offense.
The final score, 49-15 in favor of the Panthers, pretty much sums up the game.
Now it’s on to the ‘Ship, where Denver will take on Carolina.
My spidey senses are telling me Peyton may experience flashes of the Super Bowl 48, when a Seahawk lineup (similar to that of the contemporary Panthers lineup) handed the Broncos a 43-8 loss.
Here’s to hoping (praying, even) that Peyton can end his illustrious career on a high note, but if not, then let’s hope Cam puts on a clinic and dabs harder than ever in San Francisco.
Will may be reached at