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The Top 10 Impact Players from Super Bowl 2014

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Super Bowl 2014: Top 10 Impact Players

Super Bowl
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

In a game that put the top-ranked offense against the top-ranked defense, many expected Super Bowl XLVIII to be a close contest throughout. Unfortunately for the viewing pleasure of the massive Super Bowl audience, the Seattle Seahawks dominated the game from the opening kickoff and destroyed the Denver Broncos by a score of 43-8.

Seattle was the far superior team on Sunday night. They were faster, stronger, more physical and simply better across the field.

Their defense played as team to completely manhandle Peyton Manning and the Denver offense. Manning looked uncomfortable from the get-go and Seattle's defense took advantage.

Denver breezed through the AFC before reaching the Super Bowl while Seattle had a hard time in both of their playoff games with close wins over the New Orleans Saints and San Francisco 49ers. After Seattle's dismantling of the best that the AFC had to offer, it is obvious that the NFC is the far superior conference at the moment.

In fact, I am beginning to wonder whether we are in store for a stretch like the late 80s and early 90s. Then, AFC teams like the Buffalo Bills and John Elway led Broncos were simply placeholders in the Super Bowl as they routinely lost in the big game against teams like the Dallas Cowboys and the 49ers.

Regardless of the future, Seattle was the best team on Sunday night and in turn are the champions of the NFL.

Before we move on to next season, I would like to look back at this Super Bowl one last time. While this was an incredible team performance for Seattle there were obviously many individuals who played a key role. Here are the 10 most impactful players from Super Bowl XLVIII.

Daniel is a writer for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @D_Schmelzer, "Like" his Page on Facebook and add him to your network on Google.

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10. Marshawn Lynch

Lynch
Jim O'Connor-USA TODAY Sports

15 carries for 39 yards and one rushing touchdown.

Marshawn Lynch did not put up his best effort on Sunday, but his presence had a ton of impact. Denver sold out to stop the run early and often and that opened up a ton for the Seahawks in the passing game.

Seattle's first two drives were impressive, but they failed to convert in the red zone, settling for field goals on both. On their third drive Lynch took over in the red zone, getting the Seahawks close and then punching it in from a yard out. This gave Seattle a 15-0 lead and they cruised to victory the rest of the way.

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9. Jermaine Kearse

Kearse
Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

Four receptions for 65 yards and one touchdown.

Jermaine Kearse did an incredible job of making plays in this one. Kearse is a physical receiver who is not afraid to take a hit over the middle. His touchdown late in the third quarter was an impressive athletic play where he refused to give up on his way to the end zone.

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8. Doug Baldwin

Baldwin
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Five receptions for 66 yards and one touchdown.

When the Seahawks needed somebody to make a play on third down, Doug Baldwin was usually the one stepping up and making it. Baldwin is a bit of a forgotten man in this Seattle offense, but he does an incredible job of using his speed to get open all over the field. He was a key part of this victory for Seattle.

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7. Cliff Avril

Avril
Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

Three tackles, one tackle for loss, two passes defended and two QB hits.

Seattle needed to get pressure on Manning in this game, and Cliff Avril certainly stepped up and made it happen. Avril was the one to get pressure on Manning and knock his pass in the air on the interception returned for a TD by Malcolm Smith. He did not come away with a sack, but Avril certainly let his presence be known in this one.

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6. Demaryius Thomas

Thomas
Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

13 receptions for 118 yards and one touchdown.

The only player that really seemed to show up for the Broncos was WR Demaryius Thomas. Although most of his damage was done in garbage time, he still did a great job against the best secondary in the league. His 13 receptions are a Super Bowl record.

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5. Chris Clemons

Clemons
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Three tackles, one sack, one pass defended and one QB hit.

It did not show up as much on the stat sheet, but Chris Clemons quietly had an incredible game for Seattle. He made physical plays all over the field in both the pass rush and against the run. Every time that Manning dropped back, Clemons seemed to be getting pressure.

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4. Kam Chancellor

Chancellor
Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

10 tackles, two passes defended and one interception.

Kam Chancellor is one of the most physical players in the NFL, and he set the tone early in the Super Bowl. Denver's first drive was a botched snap that ended up being a safety. On the second play of their next drive Manning hit Thomas on a drag route across the middle. Chancellor was there to light Thomas up.

It felt like Chancellor and the Seahawks set the tone right there, daring the Denver receivers to go up the middle. As usual, Chancellor was a key component for Seattle to stop the run and he came up with a big interception late in the first quarter.

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3. Percy Harvin

Harvin
Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

Two carries for 45 yards and an 87-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.

It had been a bit of a lost season for Harvin, his first with Seattle. Because of a hip injury and concussion issues, Harvin only played in one regular season game and one playoff game before his outburst on Sunday. Well, I think it is safe to say that it was worth the wait for Seattle.

Harvin set the tone for the Seattle offense with two big runs early in the game on quick end around plays. Denver kicker Matt Prater tried to kick the ball short to begin the second half, but Harvin was still able to return it 87 yards for a score. Harvin has incredible speed and athleticism that was a huge weapon for Seattle. He had a serious case to be named MVP.

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2. Malcolm Smith

Smith
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

10 tackles, one pass defended and one interception that was returned 69 yards for a touchdown.

Malcolm Smith came out of nowhere on Sunday to take home the Super Bowl MVP trophy. While the long return for a TD is probably why Smith won the award, he had an impact on the game in many other ways.

Smith was key for Seattle as they shut down the Denver running game, and he was also a huge part of their pass defense over the middle of the field. At only 24-years-old, Smith has a very bright future ahead of him.

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1. Russell Wilson

Wilson
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

18-of-25 for 206 yards and two passing touchdowns. Three carries for 26 yards.

I have no problem with Smith taking home the MVP trophy, but if I was making the call, Russell Wilson would have been the guy. Wilson once again just took what the defense was giving him. Denver was selling out to stop Lynch in the running game, so Wilson had to beat them with his arm.

He did just that as he methodically led the Seattle offense down the field time and time again. Wilson used his incredible elusiveness to escape whatever pass rush that the Broncos could get and just threw the ball to the open receiver. The Seahawks do not ask for much out of their QB, but he gave them more than they needed. He was the player with the most impact in Super Bowl XLVIII.