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Historical perspective: Defense still rules

By Adrian Fedkiw, Contributing NFL Writer

(SportsNetwork.com) - Richard Sherman praised Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos' record-setting offense in the days leading up to Super Bowl XLVIII, but he did have one critique of Manning.

"He throws ducks," the outspoken Seattle Seahawks cornerback said.

In an era when NFL offenses have been more potent than ever, the Seahawks proved defense still wins championships.

The top-ranked Seahawks defense suffocated Manning and hauled in a few of his "ducks" en route to their 43-8 win on Sunday for the franchise's first Super Bowl title.

"I hope we etched our names in the history books," Sherman said of his team's defense being one of the best ever.

The All-Pro cornerback Sherman left the game in the fourth quarter with a high ankle sprain.

Seattle scored 21 points off four Denver turnovers.

It was an all-too-familiar script for Super Bowls pitting the NFL's top scoring offense against its top scoring defense. The team with the top defense has won four of the five matchups.

The first of these showdowns came at Super Bowl XIII when the Pittsburgh Steelers defeated the Dallas Cowboys 35-31 following the 1978 season. Pittsburgh came in yielding a league-best 12.2 points per game, but it was quarterback Terry Bradshaw leading the way after throwing for 318 yards and four touchdowns.

The second meeting came after the 1984 season when Dan Marino and the top- ranked Miami Dolphins' offense fell to the San Francisco 49ers 38-16 in Super Bowl XIX.

Marino threw a then-NFL record 5,084 yards and 48 touchdown passes during the regular season, but tossed a pair of interceptions during the Super Bowl. He was 29-of-50 overall for 318 yards, many coming after the 49ers raced out to a 28-16 halftime lead.

Joe Montana and the 49ers in 1989 were the lone top-scoring offense to defeat a top-scoring defense in the Super Bowl. San Francisco routed the Broncos 55-10. The 49ers tallied 27 points in the first half. Denver hadn't allowed more than 28 points in a game that season.

The New York Giants' top-ranked 1990 defense edged the Buffalo Bills 20-19 in Super Bowl XXV when Scott Norwood missed a 47-yard field goal wide-right at the end of the game.

New York kept the ball away from Jim Kelly and Buffalo's high-powered no- huddle attack, holding the ball for more than 40 minutes.

The NFL implemented rules to help the passing game in 1978, including one that allowed less bumping of wide receivers. In recent years the NFL has installed rules to protect the quarterback and receivers going over the middle.

Also, the additions of rub plays and the back-shoulder throw has made offenses even tougher to cover.

The 2013 season featured an NFL-record 70.8 passes per game, according to a post on Grantland.com. More than 58 percent of all offensive plays were passes.

The "Legion of Boom" and the rest of the Seahawks defense thrived anyway.

During the regular season, Seattle not only led the NFL in fewest points allowed (231) and total defense (273.6 yards per game) but also in pass defense (172.0 ypg), takeaways (39), interceptions (28) and turnover differential (plus-20).

The final challenge came Sunday when the Seahawks shut down the NFL's all-time highest-scoring offense.

Denver's explosive attack -- the first in league history to score 600 points in the regular season -- was led by Manning, who set NFL single-season passing records with 5,477 yards and 55 touchdowns. But it never found a rhythm against the Seahawks.

The Broncos snapped the ball into the end zone for a Seattle safety and had a three-and-out before Manning threw a pair of interceptions on back-to-back possessions. The second one was returned 69 yards for a touchdown by the game's MVP, Malcolm Smith.

"I just kind of attacked it and took off," Smith said of the interception.

Denver turned the ball over on downs on its final possession of the first half and trailed 22-0 at the break.

Percy Harvin returned the opening second-half kickoff for a touchdown and it was basically over for Manning and the Broncos after that.

"Giving them the lead played into their hands," Manning said. "That's what they do to a lot of teams. If you give them a lead it certainly benefits their defense."

The NFL's top-scoring defense is now 13-3 in the Super Bowl. The top-scoring offense, meanwhile, is just 10-12.

02/03 01:07:41 ET

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Standings

 2013 American Football Conference Standings 
East Division W L T Pct. PF PA Home Away Div Conf
y-New England 12 4 0 .750 444 338 8-0 4-4 4-2 9-3
NY Jets 8 8 0 .500 290 387 6-2 2-6 3-3 5-7
Miami 8 8 0 .500 317 335 4-4 4-4 2-4 7-5
Buffalo 6 10 0 .375 339 388 4-4 2-6 3-3 5-7
 
North Division W L T Pct. PF PA Home Away Div Conf
y-Cincinnati 11 5 0 .688 430 305 8-0 3-5 3-3 8-4
Pittsburgh 8 8 0 .500 379 370 5-3 3-5 4-2 6-6
Baltimore 8 8 0 .500 320 352 6-2 2-6 3-3 6-6
Cleveland 4 12 0 .250 308 406 3-5 1-7 2-4 3-9
 
South Division W L T Pct. PF PA Home Away Div Conf
y-Indianapolis 11 5 0 .688 391 336 6-2 5-3 6-0 9-3
Tennessee 7 9 0 .438 362 381 3-5 4-4 2-4 6-6
Jacksonville 4 12 0 .250 247 449 1-7 3-5 3-3 4-8
Houston 2 14 0 .125 276 428 1-7 1-7 1-5 2-10
 
West Division W L T Pct. PF PA Home Away Div Conf
y-Denver 13 3 0 .813 606 399 7-1 6-2 5-1 9-3
x-Kansas City 11 5 0 .688 430 305 5-3 6-2 2-4 7-5
x-San Diego 9 7 0 .563 396 348 5-3 4-4 4-2 6-6
Oakland 4 12 0 .250 322 453 3-5 1-7 1-5 4-8
 
x= clinched playoff berth
y= clinched division title
 2013 National Football Conference Standings 
East Division W L T Pct. PF PA Home Away Div Conf
y-Philadelphia 10 6 0 .625 442 382 4-4 6-2 4-2 9-3
Dallas 8 8 0 .500 439 432 5-3 3-5 5-1 7-5
NY Giants 7 9 0 .438 294 383 4-4 3-5 3-3 6-6
Washington 3 13 0 .188 334 478 2-6 1-7 0-6 1-11
 
North Division W L T Pct. PF PA Home Away Div Conf
y-Green Bay 8 7 1 .531 417 428 4-3-1 4-4 3-2-1 6-5-1
Chicago 8 8 0 .500 445 478 5-3 3-5 2-4 4-8
Detroit 7 9 0 .438 395 376 4-4 3-5 4-2 6-6
Minnesota 5 10 1 .344 391 480 5-3 0-7-1 2-3-1 4-7-1
 
South Division W L T Pct. PF PA Home Away Div Conf
y-Carolina 12 4 0 .750 366 241 7-1 5-3 5-1 9-3
x-New Orleans 11 5 0 .688 414 304 8-0 3-5 5-1 9-3
Atlanta 4 12 0 .250 353 443 3-5 1-7 1-5 3-9
Tampa Bay 4 12 0 .250 288 389 3-5 1-7 1-5 2-10
 
West Division W L T Pct. PF PA Home Away Div Conf
y-Seattle 13 3 0 .813 417 231 7-1 6-2 4-2 10-2
x-San Francisco 12 4 0 .750 406 272 6-2 6-2 5-1 9-3
Arizona 10 6 0 .625 379 324 6-2 4-4 2-4 6-6
St. Louis 7 9 0 .438 348 364 5-3 2-6 1-5 4-8
 
x= clinched playoff berth
y= clinched division title
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ARI 4
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1:05pm Today
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1:05pm Today
CLE
TOR
 
1:08pm Today
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1:35pm Today
BOS
BAL
 
2:10pm Today
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MIN
 
2:20pm Today
CHC
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4:05pm Today
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HOU
 
7:05pm Tonight
PIT
MIL
 
7:10pm Tonight
NYM
ATL
 
7:10pm Tonight
TAM
NYY
 
7:10pm Tonight
MIA
SEA
 
8:05pm Tonight
TEX
CWS
 
8:10pm Tonight
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8:10pm Tonight
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8:40pm Tonight
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12:30pm Today
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3:30pm Today
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9:30pm Tonight
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BOS 0
DET 1
Final
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3:00pm Today
STL
CHI
7:00pm Tonight
PIT
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9:30pm Tonight
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MIN
Final
NOR 0
DUR 3
 
7:05pm Tonight
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