By Danny O'Neil
Three things we learned:
1. That Seahawks defense will knock you on your asterisk.
No team allowed fewer points than Seattle during the regular season, but that fact came with the caveat that of the teams that finished among the NFL's top 10 in yards gained, the Seahawks faced only one: the Saints. Turns out that was a pretty telling precedent. The Broncos were held to a single touchdown. Just like the Saints. The Broncos were manhandled by the Seahawks. Just like the Saints. And when Sunday's game was over, there was no doubt that the matchup between the league's top offense and the top defense was a first-round TKO. The Seahawks are heavyweights, and totally undisputed.
2. There is no more valuable player in the NFL than Russell Wilson.
That's not to say he should have been named the regular-season MVP. Peyton Manning earned that honor with a league-record 55 touchdown passes. Manning played a larger role in Denver's success than Wilson did in Seattle's. But if we're really talking value, let's consider that Wilson made $526,217 this season, which is only about $17 million less than Manning made. The value of that $17 million is accentuated in a league with a hard cap like the NFL because Seattle could take that $17 million it wasn't spending on its Pro Bowl quarterback and pay it to Cliff Avril. And Michael Bennett. And Percy Harvin. Now tell me who's more valuable.
3. That is why the Seahawks traded for Percy Harvin.
|• Recap | Stats | Photos | Highlights | Interviews||• O'Neil: Seahawks ‘D' continues domination in title win||• O'Neil: Seahawks' Super Bowl MVP? Take your pick||• Huard: Breaking down the fly sweep in ‘Chalk Talk'||• Henderson: Title extra sweet for Harvin, receivers||• Henderson: Russell Wilson makes history in victory||• Henderson: Malcom Smith takes MVP honors|
This season isn't at all what the Seahawks had in mind when they traded three draft picks – including a first-rounder – for the right to pay Percy Harvin. He underwent surgery before he played a down and then came back too soon to be able to finish out the regular season. But those four times that Harvin touched the ball in the Super Bowl showed exactly why the Seahawks thought he was worth the power-play acquisition. He has not only the speed but the explosive change of direction to change the angles and geometry of a defense. Just look at Harvin's first carry, that 30-yard gain on the end-around, and watch how he outruns a safety who thought he had an angle on him only to end up with a fistful of nothing. If the field was 2 feet wider Harvin might have had two touchdowns of more than 50 yards in a game that insured he won't be remembered as another one of this franchise's big-budget busts at receiver.
Three things we're trying to figure out:
1. Why didn't we recognize the importance of Kam Chancellor's contract extension earlier?
The deal – especially its size at more than $20 million guaranteed – came as a bit of a surprise last year with players like Earl Thomas, Richard Sherman and – yes – Wilson nearing the ends of their contracts over the next few years. Chancellor – perhaps more than anyone else on this roster – embodies the overwhelming physical style of play that coach Pete Carroll considers the bedrock of his team. And when Chancellor hit receiver Demaryius Thomas on Denver's third play from scrimmage, knocking the Broncos' 225-pound Adonis 5 yards backward, it embodied the advantage that Carroll believed his team had in this game. "We really felt like we could knock the crud out of these guys," Carroll said. Chancellor certainly did on that play.
2. Is this just the beginning?
The average age of Seattle's team: 26 years, 175 days. That's the fourth-youngest of any Super Bowl champion. The Seahawks have the franchise quarterback that is the closest thing the league comes to having a golden ticket to perennial playoff contention, and they have a front office that has hit way too often on late-round draft choices like Chancellor, Sherman and Byron Maxwell to consider that a fluke. The Seahawks will have tough decisions to make, starting with whether or not to retain unrestricted free agents like Michael Bennett and Golden Tate, but this team is in a distinctly different position than last year's Ravens, who didn't even have their quarterback signed for the following season. The Seahawks aren't going to experience the free-agent attrition Baltimore did.
3. Which was more exciting: The last-minute victory over the 49ers or the Super Bowl landslide?
Obviously, the victory over the Broncos was more significant. It was more satisfying, too, given the door-to-door domination on display as Seattle won its first Super Bowl. But was it as exciting, as exhilarating as the victory over the divisional-rival 49ers with its singular defining moment? That was a game sweetened by the anxiety that preceded it, the 49ers only 19 yards from a potential victory only to be denied by Sherman, Seattle's weapon of mass deflection. A city went from anxious to exhilarated in a matter of seconds. Compare that to the Super Bowl, which was as close as a football game will come to a parade. Which was more exciting? It's a matter of personal preference.