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Richard Sherman: "The NFC Championship was the Super Bowl"

"The NFC Championship was the Super Bowl," Richard Sherman told SI's MMQB. "The 49ers were the second-best team in the NFL."

Jeff Gross

When Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman uttered these words in Robert Klemko's latest MMQB column, I knew a lot of Broncos Country would get upset. I did too.

"How dare you belittle our team that way?", I initially thought "The Broncos were certainly a worthy foe. They earned their trip to the Super Bowl. It would be foolhardy to overlook them. Just ask the Chargers. Just ask the Patriots. Just ask every other team not named the Seattle Seahawks," I thought.

Here's the thing, though: those Broncos didn't show up.

It was unbecoming of this team, a Denver Broncos squad that had forwarded 71 offensive touchdowns in the regular season to only 16 turnovers. On Super Bowl Sunday, the Broncos committed four turnovers - five if you include the safety 12 seconds into the game - while scoring only one touchdown.

There was no statistical reason, no trend that could possibly explain how a team could go from a 9:2 TD-interception ratio to a 1:5 one. Give the Seahawks credit for causing much of that disruption, but the 2013 Denver Broncos didn't show up. Some choke artists did.

Compare that to the NFC Championship Game two weeks earlier. In the NFC Championship Game, the San Francisco 49ers tested the Seahawks through 59 minutes of the game. They had the lead at halftime. With under a minute left, San Francisco was still driving, still threatening to take the lead back and win the game.

In Super Bowl XLVIII, the Denver Broncos didn't test the Seahawks for 12 seconds.

Is brutal honesty classy? No, but do we need our asses kissed right now, Broncos Country?

What would you expect Sherman to say? He was being brutally honest. Is brutal honesty classy? No, but do we need our asses kissed right now, Broncos Country? Maybe some tough, brutal honesty from a football peer is exactly what the Broncos need.

The Broncos didn't play like AFC Champions on Super Bowl Sunday. The Broncos played like bottom-dwellers in the NFL. Be embarrassed - yes, embarrassed by this performance, Broncos fans. It wasn't representative of the Broncos we knew. Not even remotely. A team can look good on paper - the Broncos sure did - but the entire purpose of a football team is to execute on game day. It's reason for being is to perform on game day.

And the San Francisco 49ers put up a much better fight than the Denver Broncos. Richard Sherman only spoke to what he experienced when it mattered - on game day.