INDIANAPOLIS—Last week Colts.com took a look at both of the Colts wins over the two Super Bowl participants this season.
Many national pundits also looked back on those Colts wins to try and decipher the best ways to attack the Seahawks and Broncos.
Now, with the game in the books, here's a look at four keys from Sunday's game and how they related to the Colts wins back in October:
Getting Pressure on Peyton Manning: When looking at the Colts win over Denver and Seattle's win on Sunday, getting pressure on Manning was vital in both instances. While the Colts got to Manning routinely (4 sacks in 49 pass attempts) on Oct. 20, the Seahawks pressure forced critical turnovers and limited the game's highest octane offense.
Per Football Focus, just 12 of Manning's 49 pass attempts traveled further then 10 yards in the air and Seattle was very sound in their tackling of underneath routes. Manning averaged just 5.7 yards per pass attempt, which was well below his season average of 8.3 yards per attempt. This was all a direct result of Seattle's ability to get pressure, without having to bring many blitzers. The Colts had 10 quarterback hurries in 49 Manning pass attempts on Oct 20, and Seattle topped that with 15 on Sunday night.Russell Wilson's Solid, Efficient Effort:In both Colts regular season victories, Andrew Luck was nothing short of tremendous. During the media chaos of Super Bowl week, the play of Wilson wasn't critiqued anywhere near to that of Manning. But in Super Bowl XLVIII, the second-year quarterback was very, very effective.
Back on Oct. 6, the Colts held Wilson and the Seattle offense to just 2-of-12 on third-down. On Sunday night, Seattle was 7-of-12 on third-down and Wilson himself was 7-of-8 for 82 yards and six first-down conversions on the money down. Just like he did against the Colts, Wilson made, and extended, several plays with his feet. Wilson's total quarterback rating was 88.1, a number he hadn't even sniffed over his previous six games. Another key stat in Wilson's success was he wasn't sacked or hurried all night long. That was a far cry from the regular season in which Seattle was a league worst in protecting the quarterback position.
Percy Harvin Proves To Be X-Factor:1 catch for 17 yards. That was the entire season stat line for a player the Seahawks acquired in exchange for a first, third and seventh round draft pick. Colts fans know full well the type of damage the electric Harvin can have when healthy. As a member of the Vikings last season, Harvin had 14 touches for 117 yards against the Colts.
Injuries plagued Harvin in 2013 and per Football Focus, he played just 39 snaps out of a possible 1,170 for Seattle prior to Sunday night. Harvin was dynamic on Sunday though, with 3 offensive touches for 50 yards and an 87-yard kickoff return for a touchdown to open up the third quarter. There's a reason Seattle sent a significant package to Minnesota for the services of Harvin and Sunday night showed exactly why the team made such a move.
Running Game Non-Existent:If you would have told Seattle fans that Marshawn Lynch would have 15 carries for 39 yards on Sunday, yet the Seahawks would win by 35, laughter would fill the air. However, that's exactly what happened on Sunday.
The Broncos did a tremendous job taking away Lynch but Seattle still reached at least the Denver 30-yard line on eight of 10 drives (one of the two drives that didn't came on a kneel down to end the first half). The Seahawks top offensive weapon was held to his second fewest rushing yards of the season but his immense production wasn't needed thanks to the other side of the football. The Seahawks rush defense was dominant. Denver was limited to 14 carries for 27 yards after averaging 117.1 rushing yards per game during the regular season.