The ball sailed over Peyton Manning’s head and into the end zone on the first snap of Super Bowl XLVIII.
Then it sailed out of his hand, and into the waiting arms of the top-ranked Seahawks defense.
It was the beginning of a nightmare night for the NFL’s Most Valuable Player, and the culmination of a dream season for Seattle, which dominated the Denver Broncos for its first Super Bowl championship, 43-8 on Sunday night in East Rutherford, N.J.
The game began with the fastest score in Super Bowl history, 12 seconds in, as the opening snap sailed into the end zone, where Denver’s Knowshon Moreno fell on it for a safety.
The second half started just as stunningly, with Seattle’s Percy Harvin returning the kickoff 87 yards for a touchdown — again just 12 seconds in.
Clearly that 12th Man energy was heating up the cold MetLife Stadium — and making some magic.
Never was it more evident than when Harvin, who’d played just two games all season due to injury, took the second-half kickoff back for a TD. The 25-year-old receiver, who missed 15 regular-season games with a hip injury and the NFC Championship Game with a concussion, had his first Seahawks highlight as he showcased his speed, streaking away from the Broncos’ kick coverage en route to a 29-0 lead.
When Seahawks wideout Jermaine Kearse bounced off five Broncos en route to a highlight-reel 23-yard TD and a 36-0 lead with 2:58 left in the third quarter, the talk no longer was whether the Seahawks would win their first title, but whether they’d pitch the first shutout in Super Bowl history.
That talk ended with the last plays of the third quarter, as Manning hooked up with Demaryius Thomas on a 14-yard TD. But there was no stopping the Seahawks’ victory celebration.
As dominant as the defense was against the NFL’s top-ranked offense, the Seahawks’ scoring was just as unstoppable. Russell Wilson hooked up with Doug Baldwin on a 10-yard pass for Seattle’s fifth TD to open the fourth quarter, and the talk turned to biggest Super Bowl blowouts.
That distinction belongs to Denver, but not Manning. John Elway’s Broncos were blitzed by the 49ers 55-10 in Super Bowl XXIV.
Fittingly, the Seahawks defense forced a turnover on Manning’s last pass attempt, with Chris Clemons forcing a fumble that Seattle recovered.
The Seahawks, who joined the 1978-79 SuperSonics as the only Seattle pro teams to win titles, started with the safety and never slowed down, adding a pair of field goals by Steven Hauschka, a Marshawn Lynch TD and a pick-six in the first half. Meanwhile the Broncos never got started, following the safety with a three-and-out and then back-to-back interceptions by Manning in consecutive drives — the second a pick-six by Malcolm Smith, who rumbled 69 yards en route to a 22-0 halftime lead.
For Manning, it was just his second and third interceptions of the postseason. Seattle also capitalized on the first, by Kam Chancellor, with a seven-play drive and a 1-yard plunge by Lynch.
The Broncos didn’t get a first down until Moreno’s short run with 10:36 left in the first half, then rattled off three more third-down conversions in a row. But the Seahawks stopped the drive by getting to Manning, as Cliff Avril batted his arm while it came forward, sending a “duck” into the air, and Smith, who picked off 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick to close the NFC Championship Game, settled under it and took it 69 yards for the score.
Seattle marched into the locker room with the largest shutout lead at halftime in Super Bowl history, surpassing the 49ers’ 20-0 lead over the Bengals in 1982.
Denver’s struggles continued in the second half, as Thomas fumbled at the Seattle 21 to kill a third-quarter drive. Richard Sherman’s name, heard all week leading up to the game, was hardly mentioned as Seattle’s secondary pitched a shutout for 44 minutes.
The only lowlight came early in the fourth quarter when Sherman came out of the game with a right ankle injury and grimaced as he was carted to the locker room. He watched the end of the game from the sideline on crutches.Wilson finished 18 of 25 for 206 yards and two TDs.
The Seahawks weren’t the only ones who got off to the fast start. Honorary Super Bowl captain Joe Namath, handling the pregame coin toss, flipped it before the Seahawks could call heads or tails, causing referee Terry McAulay to step in and catch it and call for a do-over. Seattle won that toss and deferred to receive the ball to start the second half.
Source: Fox Sport