It is billed as the battle of the quarterbacks. The young upstart versus the seasoned veteran as Seattle Seahawks’ Russell Wilson, in just his second campaign, looks to stop 37-year-old Peyton Manning of the Denver Broncos claiming his second Super Bowl.
However, the two coaches, Denver’s John Fox and Seattle’s Pete Carroll, sitting on either side of the Lombardi Trophy in their final media appearance before tomorrow’s game, said the hotly anticipated game could hinge on unsung players.
“It’s a team game,” Fox said. “I remind everybody that there’s three phases of the game and in my experience it is who executes the best and who performs the best.”
Fox wanted to make sure he was including his defense and specials teams that cover punts and kick-offs, return them, and kick field goals as potential Super Bowl winners in the game at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey.
“There always seems to be the unknown guy that makes a critical play, whether it’s in the kicking game, Lord knows where it’s going to come from,” the Denver coach added. “My experience has been that there’s [always] been one of those events. I think you express that to your team ... I think it’s going to be a total team effort, at least in my view.”
Said Carroll: “I really couldn’t agree more. There’s an attraction to the defense and the offense, but this game is going to be involving so many different aspects of it.
“It will be interesting to see if that is the story. Is it our defense versus their offense? I really don’t believe that’s what it’s going to be.”
All that said, when each coach was asked what he envied about the other team, the conversation swung back to the Seattle defense led by Richard Sherman, and the prolific Denver offense orchestrated by quarterback Manning.
“Being a defensive coach, I have a little preference to the defense,” said Fox, a former defensive coordinator. “They have very good speed. I think probably the length and athleticism of their defense is what I look at and it sticks out on tape.”
Carroll thought wistfully about the record-setting scoring numbers put up by Manning and his outstanding crew of receivers. “We’d like to have their points,” he said.