For Eli Manning and his family, sitting in a suite at MetLife Stadium, Super Bowl XLVIII had an all-too-familiar feel to it. It was déjà blue for the Manning family and the Denver Broncos on Sunday.
The Seattle Seahawks won the franchise’s first Super Bowl in convincing fashion, intercepting two Peyton Manning passes and beating the Broncos 43-8.
“I hope we etched our names in the history books,” Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman said. “This is the No. 1 offense in the history of the NFL, and we were able to play a good game against them. Peyton Manning may go down as one of the greatest to ever play the game, and we’re just blessed to have an opportunity to play against him. I can’t believe it.”
When he arrived in New Jersey a week ago, Peyton Manning joked about getting little scouting help from his brother. Eli Manning threw five interceptions against the Seahawks on Dec. 15 at MetLife as the Giants lost 23-0.
This was ugly, uglier and ugliest for the Broncos, who entered as three-point favorites. The franchise’s five Super Bowl losses — to go along with victories in the 1997 and ’98 seasons — have come by a combined score of 206-58.
Defense won this championship for the Seahawks.
In a rare matchup of the league’s No. 1 offense vs. the league’s No. 1 defense, Seattle held the Broncos to 306 yards, forced four turnovers and had a shutout until the final play of the third quarter.
“I think we played a great football team,” said Manning, who now has a record 12 postseason losses. “We needed to play really well in order to win, and we didn’t come anywhere close to that. We weren’t sharp offensively from the very get-go.”
The first cold-weather Super Bowl offered near-perfect conditions, with a game-time temperature of 49 degrees. But the Seahawks defense left Manning out in the cold as he completed 34 of 49 passes for 280 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions. He also lost a fumble.
In three Super Bowls, only one a victory, Manning has completed 90 of 132 passes for 860 yards with three touchdowns, four interceptions (two returned for touchdowns), an 81.0 passer rating and two lost fumbles.
“Peyton’s still the greatest quarterback to ever play the game,” Seahawks defensive lineman Michael Bennett said. “This doesn’t destroy his legacy.”
The first play foreshadowed the long night Manning had ahead of him: Center Manny Ramirez’s snap sailed past Manning, who appeared unready for it. Defensive lineman Cliff Avril tackled Broncos running back Knowshon Moreno for a safety only 12 seconds into the game for the fastest score in Super Bowl history.
“We loved the fact that we were playing Peyton Manning, and everybody was talking about him before the game,” linebacker Bobby Wagner said. “After the game, we knew everybody was going to hear a lot about the Seattle defense.”
It wasn’t the Seahawks’ biggest-name defenders who starred Sunday. Instead of Earl Thomas and Sherman, it was Avril, Malcolm Smith and Kam Chancellor who made the most of the league’s biggest stage.
Avril pressured Manning on Manning’s first interception, which Chancellor bobbled and then corralled to set up Seattle’s first touchdown. Avril then hit Manning’s right arm on a second-quarter pass that Smith intercepted and returned 69 yards for a touchdown and a 22-0 lead.
Smith later had a fumble recovery that cornerback Byron Maxwell forced as the Seahawks’ Legion of Boom secondary lived up to its nickname. Smith, who had nine tackles, an interception, a pass defensed and a fumble recovery, earned MVP honors.
Chancellor woke up his teammates Sunday morning, before their wake-up call, by walking down the hotel hallway yelling, “Let’s get this bus rolling.”
It started early, and the Seahawks never let up.
Percy Harvin, who had played in only two games all season and only 38 offensive plays, returned the second-half kickoff for an 87-yard touchdown. Only 12 seconds into the second half, the Seahawks had a 29-0 lead, and the 12th Man, out in force in the crowd of 82,529, began a long night of celebrating.
“This was a dominant performance from start to finish,” said Thomas, a Texas product. “You had guys step up that you wouldn’t even think would step up. That’s what this team is about.”