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Super Bowl XXVIII presents ideal match


Denver's Wes Welker and Seattle's Earl Thomas represent the essence of a classic matchup

NEW YORK – You couldn't script a more compelling Super Bowl matchup than this one.

Best offense in the NFL vs. best defense in the league.

Even better, it's the NFL's best overall offense and best pass offense vs. its best defense and best pass defense.

That's the essence of what the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks squaring off at MetLife Stadium Sunday to decide the game's ultimate prize is all about.

"This is what we want," Seahawks free safety Earl Thomas said. "We want to face this kind of offense. We don't want to take the easy way. If it's easy, you shouldn't do it."

There is nothing easy about trying to slow down, let alone stop, Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning and his remarkable group of pass-catchers: receivers Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker, Wes Welker, and tight end Julius Thomas.

At 37, Manning is playing the best football of his life, consistently delivering perfect strikes and making big plays all over the field. That allowed the Broncos to set NFL records for points scored (606) and touchdown passes (55, all thrown by Manning).

"It starts with the quarterback position," Decker said. "When you have such a great quarterback, like Peyton Manning, throwing you the ball, you want to get open. You have four guys, even everyone else that is a part of the wide receiver tight end group, wants to be great and wants to get open.

"We've had a great opportunity this year to really mold together, to be very unselfish, and to do things that no one has done in NFL history. With that mindset and the unselfishness, we were able to accomplish those things."

Thomas, Dicker, Welker, and Thomas generally present a math problem for every opponent. There are simply too many of them to be sufficiently covered. Someone is almost always going to be open. And if you dare pay extra attention to one of them, you can be certain that others will be available to make you pay dearly.

"We understand what they're capable of, but that's why we play the games," Thomas said. "We're very excited to prove who we are every time we step out (on the field). This is just a great opportunity, especially on this stage, to show what we're all about."

Perhaps the most defining aspect of the Seahawks' secondary, besides tight coverage, is its physicality. Seattle's defensive backs are larger and stronger than those on most teams, and they aren't shy about throwing their weight around … or tossing around opposing receivers.

The idea is to reroute them and disrupt their timing even at the risk of drawing an occasional penalty. With the Vince Lombardi Trophy on the line, the Seahawks figure to be as physical as ever on Sunday.

"This is a physical game," Decker said. "Everyone across the league is trying to combat a receiver at the line of scrimmage, because it's becoming a passing league. You need to throw off the timing and do something different to disrupt what teams are doing so successfully."

Which, in large part, is what makes Super Bowl XXVIII such an ideal matchup.

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