Saturday, February 1, 2014

Super Bowl notes/oddities

By Rick Morris

^ The cities of Denver and Seattle have little sports history of consequence between them, but they were both in the AFC West until the league reshuffled to make room for the Houston Texans in 2002.  So this marks the second time that two teams who were once division rivals are meeting in the Super Bowl; the first was Super Bowl 37, when the Bucs played the Raiders (Tampa Bay and Seattle came into the league together in 1976 and traded conference affiliations after their first year).  The only other significant note between the cities in the world of sports occurred exactly 20 years ago this spring, when the Nuggets became the first #8 seed to knock off a #1 (the Sonics) in the first round.  The Seahawks will be going for long-deferred revenge this weekend.

^ Pete Carroll, who used to coach the Jets, becomes the second head coach to return to his old home market in a Super Bowl game, following George Allen, who took his Redskins to the big game at Super Bowl 7 at the LA Coliseum after previously helming the Rams there for years.  Two coaches, Don Shula and Hank Stram, went on to coach in Miami and New Orleans, respectively, AFTER coaching in Super Bowls there (Shula famously lost Super Bowl 3 and Stram won Super Bowl 4).  Two coaches, Ray Malavasi and Bill Walsh, coached Super Bowls in their home markets DURING their runs with their teams.  Malavasi lost Super Bowl 14 and Walsh won Super Bowl 19.

^ For all the slurs that we hear about “retread” head coaches in the NFL, both sideline bosses this weekend are both on their second go-around.  This is the fourth Super Bowl that meets that criteria, as both Bill Belichick/Tom Coughlin battles and the Dan Reeves vs. Mike Shanahan-and-his-old-team angle preceded this.  So the NFC is 2-1 in such games.

^ The chalk was dominant in this postseason, much more than usual, as the final four teams were commonly regarded as the best four in football heading into the postseason and indeed, for much of the year.  As such, this is only the second meeting of #1 seeds in the Super Bowl in the last two decades.  Coincidentally, the last one also featured Peyton Manning in that Saints-Colts clash.  Manning will also try to become the first QB to win Super Bowls as a starter with two different teams.  Also, he will be playing a Super Bowl in his brother’s home stadium after his brother won his second Super Bowl in Peyton’s home stadium.

^ While many have played up the legend vs. young gun clash between Manning and Russell Wilson, there has never before been a Super Bowl battle between two highly-celebrated quarterbacks that meet the following criteria: one that has been a star for more than a decade and one that is in the first five years of his career.

^ In a battle of top offense vs. top defense, the defense usually comes out on top.  This is the first such battle of teams rated best in both offensive yards and points and defensive yards and points.  In the only previous battle of yards leaders, Tampa Bay beat Oakland in the aforementioned Super Bowl 37.  In battles of points leaders, the defensive points leaders are 3-1 against their offensive counterparts.

^ This is the third AFC West vs. NFC West Super Bowl.  In the previous two battles, San Francisco bested San Diego and Denver.

^ This is the first Super Bowl ever to be held on a February 2.

^ The Seahawks are the only team ever to make it to more than one Super Bowl and never to appear in a warm-weather city.  Their previous trip, albeit for an indoor game, was at Ford Field in Detroit.

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