No fury like Carroll's Seahawks in Super Bowl; right, Broncos?
Pete Carroll's Seahawks jump on Denver -- from Peyton-rattling pressure to Harvin's KO return -- in complete Super Bowl domination.
EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ -- This 43-8 wipeout of Denver in Super Bowl XLVIII was the culmination of Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll's dream, the one derailed when he was fired after only one year with the Jets and fired again after three years with the Patriots, none of them losing seasons. This was the culmination of his dream even after he went to Southern California, where he didn't reinvent himself so much as he established just what he could do, if given the chance. Given the chance, he could win it all.
And given the chance, he wanted to win it all in the NFL.
So he left USC for Seattle in 2010, and what he did Sunday night he has been doing since the day he got there. This is, as I said, the culmination of his dream, his plan, his methodology.
Because what the Seattle Seahawks did to the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII was all about Pete Carroll's personal style and what his teams want to do every time they step on the field. And what they did to the Broncos was this:
The Seahawks unleashed hell.
The Broncos were abominably bad, but with the exception of one play -- the snap from center on Denver's first play from scrimmage that soared past Peyton Manning right ear and didn't stop until it was recovered in the end zone for a safety -- the Broncos were abominably bad because the Seahawks made them bad. The Seahawks unleashed hell, and the Broncos melted.
"We leave no doubt," Seahawks safety Kam Chancellor said. "When we're cooking on all three cylinders, man, it's hard to stop us."
It was all three phases of the game, but it was most obvious when Denver had the ball and the Seahawks unleashed their defensive line on Manning, the five-time MVP and future Hall of Famer who played like neither. It was Cliff Avril coming around the edge and hurrying Manning into his first interception and then crunching Manning on the second, hitting Manning's arm in mid-throw to turn the ball into a duck that linebacker Malcolm Smith devoured and returned 69 yards for a touchdown.
It was Chris Clemons forcing two fumbles and recording a sack and foiling the Broncos' last plausible shot at a comeback late in the first half, when they trailed 22-0 but had the ball at the Seattle 19, fourth-and-2 with 1:06 left. Clemons ran through Broncos tackle Chris Clark and broke up Manning's pass at the line of scrimmage.
And it was Red Bryant drawing a bead on Manning until Denver guard Zane Beadles leg-whipped him to the ground, saving the sack but drawing a penalty that led to third-and-long, which led to Avril's hit, which led to Smith's touchdown return.
All three of those pass-rushing Seahawks -- Cliff Avril, Chris Clemons, Red Bryant -- play defensive end because that's what Pete Carroll wants. He wants to rush the passer until the passer is jumping at shadows, so the Seahawks upgraded their decent pass rush from 2012 and made it ferocious in 2013 by adding free agents Avril from Detroit and Michael Bennett from Tampa Bay.
Carroll wants violence and he wants fury, and linebacker-sized safety Chancellor provided both on the Broncos' second series when he ran into 230-pound Broncos receiver Demaryius Thomas and drove him back 5 yards, sending Carroll cascading onto the field in a spasm of joy and sparking the Seattle defense, too.
"Every one of my teammates said that was the tone-setter," Chancellor said.
Chancellor provided some more violence and fury in the second half when he saw a short pass headed for Wes Welker and left the tight end he was covering, Julius Thomas , to blast Welker as the ball arrived, producing an incompletion that led to a punt one play later.
That's defense, and Carroll came up as a defensive coach, and while he has helped formulate one of the greatest defenses in decades -- the NFL's first since the 1985 Chicago Bears to lead the league in points allowed, yards allowed and turnovers forced -- he has formulated so much more than that. Because the hell he unleashed, it's not just on defense.
Carroll found a way to unleash hell on offense and special teams, too, and I can tell you how he does it: He's one of the rare NFL coaches -- not the first, not the last, but one of the few to do it -- who gets his millionaire professional athletes to play the game with the zeal they had in college. He cuts loose and lets his players cut loose, and when they screw up he's OK with it because they're like he is, they're human, and they're going to mess up too.
"You'll run through a wall for the guy," said Seahawks receiver Doug Baldwin , who led Seattle with five catches for 66 yards and a touchdown.
When Carroll calls for a double pass in the first half and it goes astray and his smart quarterback, Russell Wilson , turns potential disaster into a harmless throwaway, Carroll doesn't go into a shell. He pulls out another trick play a few snaps later and there goes Percy Harvin , turning the corner on an end-around, the same play Carroll called on the Seahawks' second snap. Those two gadget plays gained 45 yards because great reward sometimes requires great risk.
And when one of his backup receivers, Ricardo Lockette , screws up in the first quarter by running into a Denver player away from the ball on a touchback and draws a 15-yard personal foul, Carroll doesn't bury Lockette on the bench. He keeps running Lockette onto the field because he likes his spirit, liked it enough to sign him as an undrafted free agent in 2011 and sign him again in October when he was released by the Bears, and Lockette rewards Carroll by catching a 19-yard pass from Wilson in the third quarter that leads to a Seattle touchdown on the next play for a 36-0 lead.
That's hellacious, a 36-0 lead in the Super Bowl. It's the offense running end-arounds and throwing double passes and getting physical yards from Marshawn Lynch , and it's the defense getting all that pressure on Manning, and it's the Seattle special teams putting its fingerprints on the final score as well. Broncos kick returner Trindon Holliday , one of the most dangerous return men in the league, three times brought a kick out of the end zone in the first half. Twice he was tackled around the 15, and on the third Holliday had the ball clawed loose for a fumble recovered by Seattle. The ball was returned to Denver on replay, but the message was delivered: No phase of the game is safe. Not against the Seahawks.
That point was driven home on the second-half kickoff when Harvin, prodded and promoted all week by Carroll to make a difference in this game despite spending most of the season out with an injury, broke it 87 yards for a touchdown, not getting hit until Carroll drilled him on the sideline.
That's how Carroll relates to his team, by acting as passionately and with as much controlled violence as they do, and after the game he was miserable as he met the media -- not because he doesn't enjoy the media, but because he enjoys the locker room more.
"I can't wait to leave you guys and go with those guys," Carroll said, gesturing toward the locker room, "because those are the guys I want to celebrate this with."
And how would they celebrate a night like this, a night four years in the making -- no, longer than that, a night that has been in the making since the Jets stupidly fired him after one season in 1994, replacing Pete Carroll with Rich Kotite?
"We're not sleeping tonight," the 62-year-old Carroll said. "We're staying up all night because this party's gonna get started as soon as you guys let me go."
Sounds like Pete Carroll is about to unleash some more hell, and New York City awaits.
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