EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ -- On the first play from scrimmage in Super Bowl XLVIII, a bad snap went through Peyton Manning's hands into the end zone, and all Knowshon Moreno could do was jump on top of it for a safety. That would be a precursor of what was to come for the Denver Broncos.
The Seattle Seahawks thoroughly dominated Manning and the Broncos, winning their first Super Bowl in franchise history, 43-8. Seattle's domination, especially on defense, began early. In the first quarter, Denver only ran seven plays on three possessions. One possession was the botched snap resulting in a safety, one was a three-and-out, and one ended on an interception by safety Kam Chancellor.
After Chancellor's INT, which occurred with the Seahawks leading 8-0, Seattle was set up with good field position at the Denver 37-yard line. Seven plays later, Marshawn Lynch was in the end zone on a 1-yard plunge for Seattle's first TD, making it 15-0.
On the Broncos' ensuing possession, disaster struck. On the 16th play of a long drive which did not include many easy yards, Manning's arm was hit by Cliff Avril while Manning was trying to throw. The ball fluttered into the waiting arms of Seahawks linebacker Malcolm Smith, who returned the INT 69 yards for the score. Smith was named the game's MVP.
Denver then had another long drive to close the half which resulted in a turnover on downs when a Manning pass fell incomplete on 4th and 2.
After the extended Super Bowl halftime, which was headlined by Bruno Mars, Percy Harvin returned the opening kickoff 87 yards for another Seattle score, and the rout was on.
Seahawks QB Russell Wilson completed 18 of 25 passes for 206.yards and 2 TDs, both of which occurred in the 2nd half when the Seahawks had already mounted a huge lead. But the story of the game was Seattle's swarming defense, which was everywhere all night long.
When Manning tried hitting receivers over the middle, the Seahawk linebackers and safeties closed quickly and made devastating hits. When Manning ran screen plays, the Seattle defensive linemen flowed to the ball and tackled ball carriers for minimal gains. When the Broncos ran the ball, they found no open lanes, and when they tried taking shots down the field, the Seahawk pass rush rushed Manning into bad throws.
Seattle's roster was built quickly. Head coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider both took over in 2010, and 12 of Seattle's 22 starters were drafted during that span. It is not only an extremely talented team. It is very young, and should be a force in the NFC for the foreseeable future.
As for Peyton Manning, it is yet another late season disappointment. Manning completed 34 passes on 49 attempts for 280 yards, 1 TD, and 2 INTs. Despite being regarded as one of the best QBs to ever play the game, Manning remains stuck at one Super Bowl win.
Super Bowl XLVIII was the first played in a "cold weather city" in East Rutherford, NJ at MetLife Stadium, but the weather was not a factor, as the temperature at the kickoff was 49 degrees.