EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — New York. New Jersey. New champions.
The Seahawks claimed their first Lombardi Trophy, clobbering the Broncos and MVP quarterback Peyton Manning, 43-8, in Super Bowl XLVIII on Sunday night at MetLife Stadium.
The anticipated clash between Denver’s record-setting offense and Seattle’s top-ranked Legion of Boom defense turned out to be as one-directional as the flow of traffic on Broadway in the Big Apple.
After being spoiled by a string of exciting Super Bowls, 82,529 fans and millions of TV viewers saw the most lopsided title game since the Cowboys beat the Bills, 52-17, in Super Bowl XXVII.
The Broncos also took the worst whupping in Super Bowl history, 55-10, to the 49ers in Super Bowl XXIV. Denver has been victimized in three of the five worst Super Bowl losses. The Broncos also became the first team to lose five Super Bowls. Manning’s record in the game fell to 1-2 as he took his record 12th postseason loss.
“This is an amazing team,” coach Pete Carroll said. “These guys would not take anything but a win in this ballgame.”
Carroll saluted the Seahawks’ fans, saying, “We take this trophy back to the 12th man.”
It didn’t take long for the Seahawks to assert themselves, or for the Broncos to wither. On the first play from scrimmage, Manny Ramirez’s snap sailed over a surprised Manning and into the end zone. Knowshon Moreno recovered it for Denver but was tackled for a safety. The two points were the fastest ever scored in Super Bowl history, 12 seconds into the game.
Seattle added two field goals to go ahead 8-0 after a quarter, then scored on a 1-yard run by Marshawn Lynch for a 15-0 lead before the Broncos had even managed a first down. The TD drive started when Kam Chancellor intercepted a pass by Manning that sailed over the head of Julius Thomas. Cliff Avril batted Manning’s arm on the pass.
The Broncos finally started to move the ball and converted three third-and-1s before Manning was sandwiched between Avril and Chris Clemons while trying to throw on third-and-13. The ball floated and was intercepted by game MVP Malcolm Smith, who returned it 69 yards for a 22-0 edge. It was the longest pick-6 since the Saints’ Tracy Porter brought one back 74 yards in Super Bowl XLIV … against Manning.
Smith said he began the day thinking he’d be MVP. “I woke up jumping, bouncing, and it turned out great for us tonight.”
The Broncos had a chance to score at the end of the half but went for it on fourth-and-2 from the 19 rather than try a field goal. Manning’s pass for Demaryius Thomas never reached its target — Clemons tipped it — and Denver became the first team since the Giants in Super Bowl XXXV to be shut out in the first half.
No team celebrates its 12th man more than the Seahawks, so it seemed appropriate that they scored 12 seconds into the game and 12 seconds into the second half. They matched their scoring rapidity at the start of the third quarter when Percy Harvin returned the kickoff 87 yards for a touchdown.
The Broncos wanted to keep the ball out of Harvin’s hands and kicked it short, but the wide receiver — who missed all but three games this season because of injuries — caught it on a bounce and split the coverage for a 29-0 lead.
Smith, whose brother Steve was a Super Bowl champion receiver for the Giants, recovered a fumble for a second takeaway after Byron Maxwell punched the ball away from Demaryius Thomas. That led to a 23-yard touchdown pass from Russell Wilson to Jermaine Kearse, who spun away from three would-be tacklers for a 36-0 lead.
Manning’s 14-yard pass to Demaryius Thomas produced Denver’s first points, and Manning threw a two-point conversion to Wes Welker to make it 36-8 after three quarters. Wilson’s 10-yard pass to Doug Baldwin made it 43-8 with 11:45 left.
“My teammates are just incredible,” Wilson said. “We’ve been relentless all season. The thing you want to do at the end of the season is play your best football, and that’s what we did tonight.”