Report by Matthew L, posted 22nd Jan

This report has been prepared by one of our newest members Matthew L, telling us about his recent Super Bowl trip to the Big Apple.

As a sports fan in general the Super Bowl has always been up there as a must see sporting event. Even before becoming interested in American Football, it was hard to ignore the pull of a sporting event that is probably the biggest in the world. This was a must see generally. However, there were a number of factors that persuaded me that this Super Bowl was the one to go to. 

Firstly, for the first time since Super Bowl XLIV the number one seed from each conference met in the league championship and featured the league’s top offense (Denver) against the top defense (Seattle), the first time this had occurred since Super Bowl XXXVII. This had the potential to be a cracker. Secondly, it was on OUR side of America. It was the first in which two U.S. states, New York and New Jersey, shared hosting duties and we could get there in 7 hours. But also, IT WAS NEW YORK BABY!!! Who doesn’t want to visit there. Since New York and New Jersey co-hosted the Super Bowl events took place in both states. The official kickoff of the Super Bowl week was on January 27 with a concert at Liberty State Park in Jersey City, New Jersey followed by the Macy’s fireworks. Media Day took place on January 28 at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey. But that was not all.

In Manhattan, from 34th to 47th streets, was transformed into Super Bowl Boulevard from January 29 to February 1, allowing the public to participate in various NFL activities. The boulevard was to contain activities such as autographs, a 60 feet high toboggan run, and photographs with the Vince Lombardi Trophy. As the area was expected to see around 500,000 people, security was increased in the area. This was especially evident on the Saturday, where Police had to close off the whole area due to overcrowding. I had never seen anything like it. There could have been easily all 500,000 people there on the Saturday alone!

Security was also increased at the Super Bowl itself. New Jersey State Police and the NFL host committee installed a chain-link perimeter fence around the Meadowlands Sports Complex. Security planners stated that access to the area would be strictly limited and regulated. Parking spaces were greatly reduced, tailgate parties restricted and all ticketed, and walking to the venue strictly prohibited. Taxis and limousines were not permitted to drop off passengers. Passengers for trains to the stadium were limited in what they carry and were screened before boarding.

The area was patrolled on land, by air, and by water. More than 3,000 security guards and 700 police officers were on duty on game day. In addition, SWAT teams and snipers were located throughout the stadium. There was a no-fly zone and fighter jets patrolled the region. The security effort was overseen by a joint operations center a few miles away from MetLife Stadium, which was staffed by hundreds of people from 35 different agencies ranging from the CIA to the New Jersey Transit Police. In addition, unofficially talking to a member of the security team, I heard that any flights that came near the stadium without prior agreement would be ‘just shot out of the sky’. The only way I can describe it was that it looked like a warzone.

The pre-game show began with the Rutgers Scarlet Knights Marching Band and Syracuse University Marching Band. Queen Latifah, joined by the New Jersey Youth Chorus, sang “America the Beautiful” . The National Anthem was then sung by Renée Fleming, the first opera singer ever to do so at a Super Bowl. A V-shaped formation of three United States Army Black Hawks, three Apache attack helicopters and three Chinook heavy-lifters did a military flyover timed with the last note of the song. As we were quite high up in the stadium, let’s just say I could see the faces of the pilots!

Then it was Game Time – By this point I had actually forgot why we were there in the first place.

On Denver’s first play after receiving the opening kickoff, center Manny Ramirez snapped the ball while Peyton Manning was shifting forward in the process of calling an audible, resulting in the ball going past Manning into the end zone. Running back Knowshon Moreno recovered the ball to prevent a Seattle touchdown, but he was downed for a safety to give the Seahawks a 2–0 lead. Seattle’s score just 12 seconds into the game was the quickest to start a game in Super Bowl history. This set the tone for the eventual outcome of the game and Denver never really got going. It was a start to the game that no one foresaw. 

Following the free kick, receiver Percy Harvin gained 30 yards on an end around run to set up Steven Hauschka’s 31-yard field goal, making the score 5–0. Denver was forced to a three-and-out on their next drive, and after the Denver punt, Russell Wilson completed a 37-yard pass to Doug Baldwin, leading to another Haushchka field goal, this one from 33 yards, that increased the lead to 8–0. On the third play of Denver’s ensuing possession, Manning was intercepted by Kam Chancellor, giving Seattle a first down on the Denver 37. Aided by a 15-yard run from Harvin on the first play, Seattle quickly got the ball into the red zone. The Broncos defense eventually managed to force an incomplete pass on third down, but defensive back Tony Carter was flagged for pass interference in the end zone, giving Seattle a first down at the one. One play later, Marshawn Lynch crashed into the end zone, hitting the line so effectively that he ended the play on his feet, scoring a 1-yard touchdown run that made the score 15–0 three minutes into the second quarter.

At this point, the Broncos offense finally managed to get moving, picking up a first down for the first time in the game and moving the ball to the Seattle 35. But on third-and-13, Manning was hit as he tried to throw a pass to Moreno, causing a high short floater that was intercepted by linebacker Malcolm Smith and returned 69 yards for a touchdown. The 22-point deficit was the largest faced by the Broncos all season.

Then the half time show. The show opened with a children’s choir. Afterward, Bruno Mars appeared, playing a drum solo. Mars then performed the songs “Locked Out of Heaven”, “Treasure”, “Runaway Baby”, “Give It Away” (with Red Hot Chili Peppers) and “Just the Way You Are” as a tribute to the United States Armed Forces. There were also lots of fireworks and a light display provided by the fans putting on hats (provided by the Metlife Stadium) which had lights on them (controlled by the Metlife Stadium). It was amazing (or awesome as the girl shaking her butt in my face through the whole of the first half told me). 

Matt Prater kicked the second half kickoff short, hitting the ground at the Seattle 12-yard line. But then something happened, Harvin picked the ball out of the air and took off for an 87-yard touchdown return that increased Seattle’s lead to 29–0. The touchdown took place 12 seconds into the second half, exactly the same amount of time that the Seahawks took to score the safety in the first half. 

An unnecessary roughness penalty against Denver added 15 more yards onto the end of the next play of note, giving Seattle the ball at the Denver 42-yard line. Then Russell Wilson hit tight end Luke Willson for a 12-yard completion on third-and-7 and later completed a 19-yard pass to Ricardo Lockette. On the next play, he threw a short pass to Jermaine Kearse, who broke four tackles as he took off for a 23-yard touchdown reception.

Denver finally managed to respond on their next drive, advancing the ball 80 yards as Manning completed six consecutive passes, including a 22-yard completion to Wes Welker, and finishing the drive with a 14-yard touchdown toss to Thomas on the last play of the third quarter. Then Welker caught a pass for a successful 2-point conversion, cutting the score to 36–8. 

However, any momentum Denver might have gained was quickly snuffed out as Seattle tight end Zach Miller recovered Prater’s onside kick attempt on his own 48-yard line. He also caught a 10-yard reception as the Seahawks subsequently drove 52 yards, featuring a 24-yard reception by Kearse, and scoring on Wilson’s 10-yard touchdown pass to Baldwin, increasing their lead to 43–8. There were more than 11 minutes left in the game, but this would be the final score. Seattle won the Super Bowl for the first ever time in their history 43-8. 

For all the game failed to deliver as a contest, I think it just showed how dominate Seattle were and well deserved their victory. The Super Bowl experience, I can safely say, was the best sporting experience I have ever had.  We can all only hope that Miami will eventually return there one day to this pinnacle of the sport and we can all have a day to really remember.