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Seattle Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner reacts after an NFL football game against the New York Giants, Sunday, Dec. 15, 2013, in East Rutherford, N.J. The Seahawks won 23-0. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)
Kragthorpe: Bobby Wagner directs Super Bowl’s best defense
NFL » Ex-Aggie linebacker ran the show in Seattle’s smothering of Denver
First Published Feb 03 2014 09:59 am • Last Updated Feb 03 2014 11:28 pm

From his perspective in the middle of it all, Bobby Wagner knew his Seattle Seahawks had something going for them in Super Bowl XLVIII.

Denver’s historic offensive season came with a disclaimer: The Broncos never faced "a defense that flies around like we do, that hits like we do," Wagner said late Sunday night, in the interview session after the Seahawks’ 43-8 victory at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey.

At a glance

Aggie champions

Former Utah State players on game-day active rosters of winning teams in the Super Bowl:

Bowl Player Pos. Result

I Lionel Aldridge DL Green Bay 35, Kansas City 10

II Lionel Aldridge DL Green Bay 33, Oakland 14

III Jim Turner K N.Y. Jets 16, Baltimore 7

VI Cornell Green DB Dallas 24, Miami 3

XXI Solomon Miller WR N.Y. Giants 39, Denver 20

XLV Jarrett Bush DB Green Bay 31, Pittsburgh 25

XLVIII Robert Turbin RB Seattle 43, Denver 8

XLVIII Bobby Wagner LB Seattle 43, Denver 8

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Seattle delivered the best defensive performance in Super Bowl history. The quality of the opposing offense, the nature of the NFL in this era and linebacker Malcolm Smith’s demoralizing touchdown all conspired to validate that statement.

So Wagner, the Utah State product, gets credit for one of the most memorable Super Bowl showings of any player from a Utah school. BYU’s Steve Young won an MVP award as San Francisco’s quarterback, which is tough to top. Defensively, USU’s Cornell Green played for a Dallas team that held Miami to three points, Utah’s Manny Fernandez helped Miami dominate Washington by making 17 tackles, and Utah’s Paul Kruger recorded two well-timed sacks for Baltimore last February.

Yet none of those efforts came against opponents like Peyton Manning and the Broncos, which also lifts the Seattle defense’s work above the efforts of the 1985 Chicago Bears (vs. New England) and the 2000 Baltimore Ravens (vs. the New York Giants). That’s not to say the 2013 Seahawks are at those defenses’ level overall, but what they did Sunday distinguished them forever in Super Bowl lore.

Wagner contributed a team-high 10 tackles as a middle linebacker, helping Seattle hold Denver to 306 total yards.

"It was our time to show the world we’re the best defense, and we did it on the biggest stage," Wagner said. "The only way we could say we’re the best defense was to take down the best offense, and we did that."

In other words, Manning’s presence did for the Seahawks what Tony Eason and Kerry Collins could not do for the Bears or Ravens. Seattle’s defense is so good that Manning could have enhanced his legacy with a strong performance, which didn’t happen. The Broncos’ struggles weren’t all his fault, but his aura certainly was diminished.

Think about this: Sacramento State’s 75-foot shot that beat Weber State in overtime Saturday was longer than any Denver offensive play.

Showing remarkable restraint, I’ve waited this long to mention having picked the Seahawks in August to win the Super Bowl. My pregame analysis also proved correct, with these points: Seattle receiver Percy Harvin would have an impact, the Seahawks’ coverage in the secondary would enable the pass rush to affect Manning and Wagner’s directing traffic in the middle would disrupt Denver’s receivers.

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But enough about me.

Seattle’s defense was more suffocating than anyone could have imagined, and quarterback Russell Wilson did more than his share in the victory. Who would have thought the Seahawks could produce more points than Marshawn Lynch’s rushing yards (39)?

Lynch’s night ended early, thanks to Seattle’s big lead, so former USU running back Robert Turbin carried the ball nine times for 25 yards — with two long runs canceled by holding penalties. Wagner and Turbin became the first ex-Aggies to team up in a Super Bowl victory, with Rulon Jones and Greg Kragen having lost twice together with Denver.

Paul McQuistan alternated on the offensive line for Seattle as the first Weber State alumnus in 24 years to actually play in a Super Bowl victory.

In defense of Broncos left guard Zane Beadles, most of Seattle’s pressure came from the other side. Beadles, from Hillcrest High School and the U., did commit a tripping penalty that disrupted Denver’s second-quarter drive. Utah prep products are a collective 6-21 in Super Bowls.

Beadles will be motivated to return next year, as the Broncos try to become the first Super Bowl losers to get back there since Buffalo in the early 1990s. That’s also the potential distinction awaiting Manning, with a legacy in need of some repair.


Twitter: @tribkurt

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