Yet in the first half, the Broncos threw short almost exclusively, as if they either hadn't looked at the the Seahawks' defense or were so overconfident they believed all they had to was snap fast and victory would follow. Denver didn't try to move the ball down the field until the contest was out of hand -- the Broncs' longest first-half gain was 19 yards.
In addition to constant sideways throws -- continuous short-hitch actions that never accomplished anything -- Denver mainly rushed sideways, zone-blocking with tailbacks moving laterally behind the line of scrimmage. Though Denver was held to a miserable 27 yards rushing, Broncos coaches never adjusted and called traps between the tackles. Everything went sideways. This played into the hands of Seattle's speed-based defense. The football saying is, "Run toward speed and away from strength." Instead of rushing straight ahead -- toward speed -- Denver tried to run sideways, away from speed. Didn't the Broncos look at the Seahawks' game film?
Obviously, Peyton Manning had a horrible outing, but his worst downs were not the two interceptions. In the second quarter, three times Demaryius Thomas lined up as the inside man in a trips. Three times, no Seattle defender lined up across from him. Audible to a go! Throw deep! Three times Manning not only did not audible to take advantage of what looked like a coverage error by the Seahawks, three times Manning had Thomas run a short sideways junky rinky-dink pattern that accomplished nothing.
Then Seattle leading 22-0, Denver going on fourth-and-2 from the Seahawks' 19, the Broncos had Thomas and Wes Welker left. Welker beat his man and was open in the end zone; Manning looked that way, then threw incomplete to Thomas. A touchdown would have pulled Denver to within two scores at the half, changing the game's psychology. Instead, Manning missed an open man in the end zone on fourth-and-2. Rarely has a quarterback read the field as poorly as he did in this contest.
John Fox and the other Denver coaches seemed bored to be in the Super Bowl. Not only did Fox order two of the lamest punts in all football annals. After the failed fourth-and-2, Seattle had the ball on its 19, 1:01 remaining before Bruno Mars, Denver holding two timeouts. Had Denver called its timeouts, Seattle might have been forced to punt, giving the Broncos a chance to block. Instead, Fox stood by doing nothing as Seattle killed the first-half clock, just as Fox stood by doing nothing at the end of regulation of the Broncos' postseason collapse last year to Baltimore. Now the unused timeouts can be donated to charity.