There is one game left in the NFL season, and for the first time in more than a half-century, the grand finale will be staged in the New York area.
Super Bowl XLVIII, nearly four years in the making since the league assigned it to the Meadowlands, at last is at hand, with only a fortnight of hype standing between fans and the biggest annual event in American sports.
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The last major step in a process that began in May 2010 ended Sunday with the Broncos and Seahawks winning their conference championships and advancing to the finale at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 2 at MetLife Stadium.
It will be the first NFL title game in the metropolitan area since the Packers defeated the Giants on Dec. 30, 1962, a brutally cold day at Yankee Stadium, and the first Super Bowl in an outdoor stadium in a cold-weather region.
For the first time since the Saints beat the Colts after the 2009 season, both No. 1 seeds will meet for the Lombardi Trophy. And the No. 1 scoring offense (Denver) will face the No. 1 scoring defense (Seattle) in the Super Bowl for the first time since 1990, when the defense-oriented Giants beat the high-scoring Bills.
The game also features a contrast of styles and generations at quarterback between Peyton Manning, 37, a traditional pocket passer on the verge of his fifth league MVP award, and Russell Wilson, 25, a mobile, multiple-threat QB who was 9 years old when Manning was drafted in 1998 and is in only his second season as a pro.
The Seahawks have been to the Super Bowl only once before, after the 2005 season, when they lost to the Steelers. The Broncos won twice in the late 1990s behind John Elway, now their executive vice president of football operations.
Much attention will be focused on Manning as he attempts to add a second championship to the one he won as a Colt, and at the home stadium of his younger brother Eli.
The Seahawks have their share of compelling characters, including former Jets coach Pete Carroll and cornerback Richard Sherman, who after making the game-clinching play Sunday by tipping the ball away from 49ers receiver Michael Crabtree unleashed an angry diatribe on television, saying this to Fox's Erin Andrews: "I'm the best corner in the game! When you try me with a sorry receiver like Crabtree, that's the result you're going to get! Don't you [Crabtree] ever talk about me!''
When Andrews asked Sherman who was talking about him, Sherman said: "Crabtree. Don't you open your mouth about the best or I'm going to shut it for you real quick!''
The Broncos lead the Seahawks 34-18 in the all-time series. The teams last met Sept. 19, 2010, when the Broncos won, 31-14.
Their only postseason meeting came in a wild-card game on Dec. 24, 1983, when the Seahawks (then an AFC team) won, 31-7, at the Kingdome.