Super Bowl showdown could hinge on unsung heroes

John Fox: Denver's 'team effort'. Picture: Reuters

John Fox: Denver's 'team effort'. Picture: Reuters

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EXPECT the unexpected to determine tomorrow’s Super Bowl battle pitting the NFL’s top-scoring Denver Broncos against the league-leading Seattle Seahawks defenders, the head coaches suggested.

Denver’s John Fox and Seattle’s Pete Carroll, sitting on either side of the Lombardi Trophy in their final media appearance before the game, said the hotly anticipated cold-weather game could hinge on unsung players. “At the end of the day, it’s a team game,” Fox said. “I remind everybody that there’s three phases of the game and my experience, in whether it’s been one of these games or any big spot, is who executes the best and who performs the best.”

Fox wanted to make sure he was including his defence and specials teams that cover punts and kick-offs, return them, and kick field goals as potential difference makers in the title game at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, 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 said. “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.”

Carroll said: “I really couldn’t agree more. It’s obvious that there’s an attraction to the defence and the offence, a logical match-up to look for, 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 defence versus their offence? 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 defence and their shut-down secondary led by Richard Sherman, and the prolific Denver offence orchestrated by quarterback Peyton Manning. “Being a defensive coach, I have a little preference to the defence,” said Fox, a former defensive coordinator. “They have very good speed. They really have a stable of rushers that do an outstanding job, they cause havoc. On the back end, they probably have the most talented secondary in the league. They have great length, great speed. I think probably the length and athleticism of their defence is what I look at and it sticks out on tape.”

Carroll, also a former defensive coordinator, 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.

President Barack Obama is not saying who he thinks will win, only he too feels it will probably come down to the last play. In a CNN interview, Obama declined to take sides. “I think it’s going to come down to the last play and I think in the end of the day – I’m not going to pick because I don’t want to offend any of the great cities participating,” he said.

Seahawks’ star cornerback Sherman has come under fire for a televised rant after he made the key play in sealing Seattle’s narrow victory over the San Francisco 49ers two weeks ago to get the Seahawks into the match-up against Denver. Stanford-educated Sherman rose up from humble beginnings in California.

“He’s a great cornerback who made a great play and won the game for the Seahawks,” said Obama, who added that Sherman had probably found “a good way to get attention” much like the trash talking that Muhammad Ali used to do as a champion boxer in his prime.

Pressed by CNN anchor Jake Tapper on who he thought would win, Obama demurred. “Come on man, I love the state of Washington and I love the state of Colorado,” he said.

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