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Seahawks make road tougher for Eagles after winning Super Bowl

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It wasn’t entirely his fault, but I can’t help but feel that Peyton Manning and the Broncos’ overall performance last night was singlehandedly THE worst choke job in the history of professional sports. EVER. With the exception of the 16-0 regular season 2007 Patriots losing the Super Bowl to the Giants, nothing comes close as far as a single game is concerned. The highest scoring team in NFL history needed 45 minutes to score their first and only touchdown of the game. Even though Manning’s playoff failures are not uncommon throughout the course of his career, I thought I was watching an episode of Punk’d. Epic fail. Manning interception: Christian Petersen/Getty Images

 

You may agree or disagree with the above sentiment and that’s fine. By no means is this to discredit the Super Bowl Champion Seattle Seahawks. However, after watching the Denver Broncos the entire season, you can’t help but ask yourself if Denver played that badly, or is Seattle’s defense that unstoppable? Maybe it’s some of each?

 

Bottom line: Denver clearly didn’t have an answer for anything that Seattle brought to the table and were outplayed in every phase of the game. The moment Denver fumbled that snap resulting in a Seahawks safety, the entire tone of the game changed. You could feel it through the TV screen. Seattle smelled blood, and they cashed in.

 

While Seattle seemed to be on cruise control, watching this game as a fan of the Philadelphia Eagles was a reality check of sorts for me. My thoughts were more or less focused on the future, and how close (or how far away) the Birds’ really are to competing with the likes of a Seahawks team who almost surely stand in the way of their quest to finally chasing down that all-elusive Super Bowl trophy.

 

If anyone needs a reality check, keep in mind that same Denver team Seattle throttled last night trounced the Eagles 52-20 in late September. Yes, I realize the Eagles were still collectively trying to find their footing, but Seattle’s defense is quick and nasty. As it currently stands, the Eagles’ defense is not. To add fuel to the fire, a member of the Seahawks even accussed the Eagles of not wanting to tackle in their playoff loss to the Saints (more on that below). Although the Eagles’ defense made tremendous strides late last season, they are currently nowhere near the caliber of play shown this season by the Seahawks, who were ranked No. 1 in the NFL in defense for the 2013 season. If you’re scoring at home, the Eagles were a distant 29th.

 

Yes, changes are indeed needed on the defensive side, as nobody on the Birds even comes close to the caliber of Seattle’s Cliff Avril, Kam Chancellor or Richard Sherman in the Eagles’ secondary. Make no mistake, a few moves here and there and the Birds can easily improve (at least on paper), but let’s not kid ourselves here; experts are comparing Seattle’s defense with some of the best to ever play the game.

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The Seahawks could have very well become your typical NFL also-ran if they lost to Denver Sunday night. After all, how many Super Bowl losers actually return to the big game? For every John Elway-led Broncos team of the late 80s and Jim Kelly-led Buffalo Bills teams of the 90s, there’s a 2003 Panthers, 2005 Seahawks, or 2008 Cardinals. Only thing is, they didn’t lose. They won, perhaps more convincingly than most Super Bowl winners in history. And if you thought this Seahawks team was arrogant and cocky before Sunday night, just wait till next year. Seattle's average age of 26.4 makes them the youngest team to ever win a Super Bowl.

Photo: SHANNON STAPLETON/REUTERS

Of course, much needs to go right over the course of a season, but Vegas bookmakers already have them as the favorites to win it again in 2014. Quarterback Russell Wilson is just 25 years of age and has the most regular-season wins by a quarterback in his first two seasons since 1950.

 

Furthermore, Wilson is the only player in NFL history to have a 100-plus passer rating in his rookie and second season. Wilson knows how to spread the ball around to his multi-faceted offense. To complicate matters, the Seahawks are nearly impossible to beat at home (although this “12th man” nonsense is due more in large part to the way CenturyLink Field is structured than anything).

 

With Tom Brady on the decline and Manning having possibly played his last game, a new era in the NFL is dawning. The play of the 49ers, Panthers, Cardinals and improving Rams clearly shows that power is shifting back to the NFC. This means the Seahawks aren’t the only team the Eagles have to worry about. If the Birds draft properly, sign the right free agents and continue to progress under Chip Kelly, the team is putting themselves in the right position to win. Make no mistake, games aren’t played on paper and I’m not about to build the Eagles/Seahawks up as some Sixers/Celtics rivalry by any means just yet, but Seahawks defensive lineman Michael Bennett may have already given the Eagles some bulletin board material when Seattle visits Philly at the Linc next year.  

 

Trash talking or not, to be the best, you’ve got to beat the best. And as of Sunday night, the road to a championship goes through Seattle.

 

NFL free agency begins March 11th.

 

Contact Joe Vallee at jvallee@philly2philly.com

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Photo: SHANNON STAPLETON/REUTERS
Manning interception: Christian Petersen/Getty Images