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Extra Points: No sly Fox for Denver

By John McMullen, NFL Editor

East Rutherford, NJ (SportsNetwork.com) - We've all heard the idiom "sly as a fox" - a nod to just how smart and clever those animals can be.

Celtic lore has even painted the fox as a guide and honored it for its wisdom and intimate knowledge of its habitat.

John Fox did not live up to the characteristics of his surname on Sunday as his Denver Broncos were routed by the Seattle Seahawks, 43-8, in Super Bowl XLVIII.

"They schemed the heck out of us," Broncos right tackle Orlando Franklin admitted. "They did an extremely good job today, getting after guys."

Seattle scored 12 seconds into each half and racked up 21 points off four Denver turnovers on the way to the laugher. Percy Harvin's 87-yard kickoff return touchdown to start the second half came after Seattle also scored 12 seconds into the game on a snap that sailed over Peyton Manning's head and into the Broncos' end zone. The safety counted as the Super Bowl's fastest-ever points.

Manning was able to set new passing and touchdown records during an historic regular season for the highest-scoring offense of all-time, but his third big game played out like a Super Bowl XXIV sequel (when the John Elway-led Broncos were manhandled by San Francisco, 55-10), a Tim Burton-directed nightmare from start to finish due to the speed and athleticism of the Seahawks' top-ranked defense.

"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."

Understand Fox could have been Vince Lombardi himself and Denver still wouldn't have won this football game, but the responsibility of any coach is to try to accentuate the strengths of his own team while masking the deficiencies as well as possible.

Fox only exacerbated the poor play of his club, however, with a run-of-the-mill game plan and some serious in-game blunders.

Many will harp on Fox's bumbling challenge of a Harvin drop that clearly wasn't a lateral or his tacit approval of special teams coordinator Jeff Rodgers' plan to implement a mortar kick -- despite having the strong-legged Matt Prater at his disposal -- at the start of the second half, the one which Harvin returned to the house, sucking the life out of Denver.

After that TD, even the Rev. Jesse Jackson himself couldn't have kept hope alive for the Broncos, but when you are staring at a 29-0 deficit on the game's biggest stage, why not adopt Herm Edwards' mantra and play to win the game?

Not Fox, who decided to punt while at Seattle's 39-yard line, a symbolic "no mas" to a team that dominated his charges athletically, physically and mentally.

"There was a reason they were the No. 1 team in defense during the season," Fox said when asked about his team's struggles. "Give them credit. They had a lot to do with it.

Perhaps, but Fox's most egregious error may have been enabling Manning's reliance on the screen game which was extremely effective for the Broncos in the regular season. Five minutes in, though, it was clear Seattle's back seven was far too fast and physical for that kind of plan and Fox needed to get in Manning's or Adam Gase's ear.

Left to his own devices and spooked by a steady, if unspectacular pass rush, Manning was clearly uncomfortable and began forcing things even when it wasn't necessary.

"I thought Peyton did a good job in the pocket," Fox said before adding: "Their pressure did have something to do with (the offensive issues). Their pass defense is outstanding."

Many will argue Manning deserves more rope than the normal player, but the quarterback himself pointed out all week that he needed to take his shots against the Seahawks' "Legion of Boom," shots that never came until the contest was far out of reach.

If the head coach has to ruffle a few feathers, so be it. That's part of the gig.

"They're pretty fast on film, too," Fox said when asked if he was surprised by the Seahawks' speed. "They're a good defense. It didn't surprise me."

Fair enough, but it did surprise Manning and his players, and that speaks to a lack of preparation, something not usually associated with Peyton or his teams.

"That game got away from us a little bit," Denver defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio confessed.

In the end, Fox deserves plenty of credit for even being in this game. The Super Bowl marked the three-month anniversary of the day he collapsed on the 14th green at a golf club in Charlotte.

In the 90 days since, the Broncos' mentor went from open heart surgery to the Super Bowl, but the Seahawks had no intention of providing a happy ending.

They were the foxes on Sunday.

"It was really a good game for our guys on all sides," Seattle coach Pete Carroll understated, "I'm proud of this entire team for what we were able to do all season long and especially here today."

02/03 14:00:05 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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Scoreboard
Local
Final
NOR 1
DUR 2
 
1:05pm Today
NOR
DUR
 
3:30pm Today
MIA
CHA
Final
WAS 3
STL 4
Final
CLE 0
TOR 5
Final
DET 5
ANA 2
Final
BOS 4
BAL 2
Final
KAN 5
MIN 4
Final
CHC 8
CIN 4
Final
OAK 4
HOU 3
Final
PIT 7
MIL 8
Final
NYM 5
ATL 7
Final
TAM 16
NYY 1
Final
MIA 7
SEA 0
Final
TEX 6
CWS 3
Final
LOS 8
ARI 6
Final
COL 3
PHI 1
Final
SDP 3
SFG 1
1:05pm Today
CLE
TOR
 
1:08pm Today
DET
ANA
 
1:10pm Today
NYM
ATL
 
1:10pm Today
MIA
SEA
 
1:35pm Today
PIT
MIL
 
1:35pm Today
WAS
STL
 
1:40pm Today
TAM
NYY
 
2:10pm Today
KAN
MIN
 
2:20pm Today
CHC
CIN
 
3:05pm Today
TEX
CWS
 
4:05pm Today
OAK
HOU
 
4:10pm Today
LOS
ARI
 
4:10pm Today
COL
PHI
 
4:10pm Today
SDP
SFG
 
7:05pm Tonight
BOS
BAL
 
Final
TOR 87
BRK 94
Final
LAC 105
GSW 109
Final
IND 93
ATL 101
Final
OKC 100
MEM 86
1:00pm Today
SAN
DAL
3:30pm Today
MIA
CHA
7:00pm Tonight
CHI
WAS
9:30pm Tonight
HOU
POR
Final
STL 4
CHI 3
Final
PIT 3
CLB 4
Final
COL 4
MIN 2
12:00pm Today
NYR
PHI
3:00pm Today
BOS
DET
7:00pm Tonight
MON
TAM
10:00pm Tonight
SJS
LOS
Final
NOR 1
DUR 2
 
1:05pm Today
NOR
DUR