For the fifth time in six Super Bowl meetings between the NFL’s top-ranked offense and its best defense, the latter dominated. Under the bright lights of East Rutherford, New Jersey, the Seattle Seahawks trounced the Denver Broncos 43-8 to win Super Bowl XLVIII.
While the big game was played on neutral ground, the 12th Man was there in force and caused problems for the Broncos from the get go. Only 12 seconds into the game, Manny Ramirez was deafened by the crown as Peyton Manning walked up to the line to change a play. Ramirez snapped the ball to the future Hall of Famer and the ball sailed over Manning’s head and into the end zone where the Broncos’ Knowshon Moreno covered the ball for a safety. It was the fastest scoring play in Super Bowl history and before Seattle’s offense had even touched the ball, they were up 2-0.
The game got progressively worse for the Broncos as the Seahawks’ defense swarmed and left Manning’s crew with no answers. In their series following the safety, Denver went three and out while Seattle added a pair of field goals to push the lead to 8-0. On their third possession of the game, Manning faced 3rd-and-7 at the Denver 23. He overthrew his intended receiver, Julius Thomas, and the ball was intercepted by Kam Chancellor. A few plays and a third-down pass interference call on Tony Carter later, and Seattle faced 1st-and-goal from the 1-yard line. Marshawn Lynch punched it in and before the Broncos knew what hit them, they were down 15-0.
Denver moved the ball well on their next possession. Moreno moved the chains a couple of times. Manning hit Demaryius Thomas on five occasions for 26 yards. Then on 2nd-and-22, Manning dropped back and was hit by the Seahawks’ Cliff Avril as he attempted a pass to Moreno. The pass was intercepted by Malcolm Smith and he took it all the way to the house and the Seahawks to a 22-0 lead.
Smith finished the game with 10 tackles, an interception and a fumble. He is the first player in Super Bowl history to have recovered a fumble and returned an interception for a touchdown in the same game. He also became the first defensive player to be named Super Bowl MVP since Dexter Jackson won the award in Super Bowl XXXVII, snapping a 10-year MVP streak by quarterbacks and wide receivers.
Very few outside the 12th Man’s ranks would’ve predicted such a lopsided result, but the league’s most prolific offense didn’t stand a chance against the best defense this side of Ray Lewis’ Baltimore Ravens in 2000. From start to finish, Seattle manhandled the Broncos. It was men against boys and for the first time in franchise history, the Seahawks are Super Bowl champions.