HOUSTON – (CBS Houston) – Careers are generally defined by performances on the biggest stages. Key defining moments help to label these individuals as big-game players or chokers, a reference that makes great athletes cringe at the mere notion of the association with name or career. The Super Bowl is that stage; about as big as it gets.
Needless to say – a big game performance could mean huge endorsement opportunities and contract extensions for the performer or performers. Add to that a lifetime of great highlights, memories, and numerous perks, almost too many to name or attempt to count.
The question is who will be the big game performers in Super Bowl XLVIII. We know most the big names with Denver such as Manning, Bailey, Rodgers-Cromartie, Welker, Thomas, Phillips, Thomas, and Terrance Knighton, better known as ‘Pot Roast’- one big reason is because of the nickname. Most of Seattle’s big names include Sherman, Lynch, Wilson, Harvin, Thomas, Chancellor, Irvin, Avril, Bryant, and Rice. These few are expected to perform well for their respective teams.
But, there could also be an unheralded player or two who emerges. Previous Super Bowls have produced them. Those names include former players such as NY Giants wide receiver David Tyree, Washington Redskins running back, Timmy Smith, NY Giants QB, Jeff Hostetller, Redskins WR Ricky Sanders, Tampa Bay DB, Dexter Jackson, Cowboys safety, James Washington, Mike Jones of the St. Louis Rams, and Larry Brown of the Cowboys, to name a few. Let’s also add Jacoby Jones of the Baltimore Ravens.
THE USUAL SUSPECT
We will begin and end with Bronco’s quarterback and future Hall of Famer, Peyton Manning. Uncertainty surrounds his upcoming performance due to anticipated inclement weather conditions. Peyton is 11-11 in the playoffs with one Super Bowl win and has the knock against him of not being able to play well in cold weather. I won’t bore you with the graphs.
But, here’s what I will present. I do believe that any quarterback, wide receiver, or tight end will confess that it’s a little more difficult to catch a pass in 15-20 degree weather with wind swirling in the stadium than it is to catch a pass in 30-plus degree weather and very little wind, if any at all. The forecast for Sunday’s 6:30 pm ET kickoff at Metlife Stadium is mid-to-upper 30’s with a northwest breeze of about 10 miles per hour. If that forecast becomes reality, weather should not be a factor.
However, facing what could be his last chance at winning a Super Bowl, Manning could play out of his mind regardless and throw for 300-plus yards and 3 or more touchdowns. How will that story line be written and what will be remembered most? I can imagine one of two storylines now; Peyton Manning can retire after Hall Fame performance, or Richard Sherman and the Seattle defense let down on the biggest stage. Of course, Sherman would be the center piece of the story.
If The Broncos win this game, Manning will get most of the credit whether he throws for 300-plus yards or not. He should after the season he’s had throwing for 5,477 yards and 55 touchdowns against 10 interceptions.He helped to get them there.
If Seattle gets the victory, their defense will likely get most of the credit unless Marshawn Lynch rushes for 150 yards and three touchdowns against a good Denver defense. Broncos’ superstar linebacker Von Miller could have made the difference. However, he suffered a torn ACL midway through the first quarter against – the Houston Texans during the regular season. Since that time, Danny Trevathan has picked up the slack and filled in admirably.
Prior to training camp, Trevathan wasn’t destined to star at linebacker for the Broncos. Now he has a chance to become a household name with one or several big plays in the Super Bowl. That leads us to other potential Super Bowl stars in the making.
Names such as Seahawk receivers Doug Baldwin and Golden Tate stand to benefit greatly. Tight ends Zach Miller and rookie Luke Willson, from Rice, stand a chance to gain immensely with one really big play to help win the game. Little known DB Byron Maxwell, out of Clemson, could make that one big play. The unheralded player could be a special teamer. Remember Jacoby Jones from last year’s Super Bowl?
Richard Sherman has finally become a houshold name. He’s been saying all along that he’s the best cornerback in the NFL. After the NFC Championship game, it’s difficult to disagree. If Sherman plays well in the Super Bowl and Seattle wins, the media and sponsors will lineup in long lines for five minutes of talk time.
But Sherman and Seattle will get tested against a Denver offense that produces points like Hanes produces tee shirts. Who will be Denver’s’ unlikely star or stars on offense? Tight end Jacob Tamme could be the guy. Backup running back Montee Ball could emerge. Kicker Matt Prater or return man Trindon Holliday could do the impossible on special teams. Temple product and nose tackle, Terrence Knighton, aka, ‘Pot Roast’, could be the unlikely defensive star. Linebacker Wesley Woodyard could be an unlikely star.
Regardless, all types of great story lines exist. But, keep an eye out for the unlikely star.