The Seattle Seahawks and Russell Wilson didn't have the star power of the Denver Broncos and Peyton Manning before the Super Bowl on Feb. 2. While Manning and the Broncos lit up the NFL all year, Wilson had to be carried by the Seahawks defense for much of the postseason. Yet when the Super Bowl kicked off, it was the second-year Wilson that looked like a championship veteran, as Manning crumbled like a rookie in a 43-8 Broncos loss.
Manning set the tone on a miscommunicated opening snap that led to a Seahawks safety 12 seconds in. However, if Seattle didn't take advantage on offense, Denver could have stopped the bleeding early. Instead, Wilson converted several third downs in his first two drives, playing mistake free, accurate football right from the start.
When the Seahawks only got two field goals in their first two drives, there was still every reason to expect Manning would wake up and make them pay. But when he threw his first interception of the game instead, Wilson got the Seahawks to break through and get the touchdown they needed. Once Malcolm Smith returned Manning's next interception for another touchdown, and when Percy Harvin returned the second half kickoff for a score, Wilson could coast from then on in.
The Seahawks' triumph will be best remembered for their defense, their kickoff and interception returns, the turnovers they forced, and the catastrophic mistakes Manning and the Broncos made. Wilson was quiet and easier to forget, as he was most of the season, yet he still kept Seattle humming along and put things away, as he did most of the year.
Wilson finished up at 18-for-25 in passing, along with 206 yards, two touchdowns and no turnovers. Manning set a Super Bowl record for completions with 34 and threw for 280 yards, but those are among the most misleading stats in Super Bowl history.
Super Bowl history was made when Wilson became the second African-American quarterback to win it all, and also broke Ben Roethlisberger's record for most wins in his first two seasons. He also won a title in his second year, just like Roethlisberger did over the Seahawks in 2006.
Manning, the Broncos and the Seahawks' defense may have more buzz anyway. But Wilson did his job, and is now among the quarterbacks who've done it better than most others in the Super Bowl era.