By Josh Kerns
There's been plenty of talk about why the Seahawks so thoroughly dominated the Broncos 43-8 in Super Bowl XLVIII, but head coach Pete Carroll says it was actually quite simple.
"We really felt like we could knock the crud out of these guys," Carroll told 710 ESPN's Brock and Danny in his first exclusive interview since returning from the Super Bowl.
Carroll says as the coaches began crafting their game plan to combat Denver's vaunted offense and league MVP Peyton Manning, they realized the Seahawks were bigger, stronger and faster – fitting in with their theme all season long.
"We really made the decision early to stay with what we know really well and demonstrate to our guys that not only we know it's a good way to do it but that we believe and trust in them," Carroll said.
That included hitting the Broncos early and often and forcing Manning out of his comfort zone. Carroll says it became apparent the plan would work when Kam Chancellor flattened Denver receiver Demaryius Thomas as he caught a short pass across the middle on the Broncos' third play from scrimmage. It was revealed Tuesday that Thomas suffered a separated shoulder in the game.
"It was vital to the whole approach to the two weeks," Carroll said. "We had set out to out make sure we hit those guys. And we knew if we did that, to generate the energy and the attitude to do that would bring out our best ... we were looking for our chances, they were waiting for it."
The Seahawks' defense stifled the league's highest scoring offense, holding the Broncos to just 306 total yards. They limited Denver to just 27 net rushing yards while picking Manning off twice, with Super Bowl MVP Malcolm Smith returning one for a touchdown.
Offensively, Carroll says the plan was to establish Marshawn Lynch and the running game to set up the passing game.
"Marshawn didn't get a lot of yards in this game," Carroll said, "but he pounded them every time we had the football."
While Beast Mode was pounding the Broncos, Russell Wilson was picking them apart. Carroll said the passing game was "exquisite," praising the second-year quarterback and the rest of the offense for perfectly executing the game plan.
"He did a great job of delivering the football, the protection was great, the route running was excellent," Carroll said. "All but one I think we caught everything the way we wanted to."
Wilson finished the game a tidy – if not spectacular – 18 of 25 for 206 yards, two touchdowns and a 123.1 quarterback rating. Just as important, he threw no interceptions.
"I don't think we did anything extraordinary. I don't think we were exceptionally over the top in any area. I thought we played exactly like we're capable and that's what happens when you do," Carroll said.
Carroll said it was "so cool" to have the whole team play well, and even cooler to share it with the 12th Man, both the thousands that drowned out MetLife Stadium and the countless others watching all over the world.
"What's really exciting for the fans is they got to enjoy this all night," Carroll said of the blowout win.
While it seemed apparent early on the Seahawks were the dominant team, Carroll said to him it felt much like any other game once the action actually got underway. But he said at some point, he had a good feeling, especially when Percy Harvin ran back the opening kickoff of the second half for a touchdown that put the Seahawks up 29-0.
"You could just feel, almost, the snowballing effect that we had them," Carroll said, "we were going to have them."
Now, Carroll is focusing on having the most fun he can celebrating the Super Boowl victory, his first in the NFL after winning two NCAA national championships at USC. He's one of only three coaches in history to do so.
"The national championships were a blast, the game, the setting, the aftermath, all that kind of stuff was similar, but now that we're back, we get to share it and all the kids get to grow up with this," he said of Wednesday's parade through downtown Seattle. "The thought of being able to connect with whoever shows up Wednesday will be really, really rewarding to us to get the feeling where we can give it back."
Then he plans to quickly get back to work planning for the Seahawks' Super Bowl defense, insisting he and the rest of the team aren't satisfied with just one Lombardi Trophy.