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Safety first: Seahawks take 2-0 lead on opening play of Super Bowl

Seattle Seahawks' Walter Thurmond reacts after a safety

Seattle Seahawks' Walter Thurmond reacts after a safety during the first half of Super Bowl XLVIII against the Denver Broncos on Sunday, Feb. 2, 2014. Credit: AP / Matt Slocum

If you hadn't settled into your easy chair yet or were reaching for the nachos, you missed the fastest score in Super Bowl history.

The Seahawks recorded a safety 12 seconds into Super Bowl XLVIII Sunday night at MetLife Stadium after a botched snap by center Manny Ramirez flew by Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning and into the end zone, where Denver running back Knowshon Moreno recovered it. He was tackled by defensive end Cliff Avril, giving the Seahawks their first two points in a shocking 43-8 victory.

The safety broke the record for the fastest initial score in Super Bowl history. The old record was 14 seconds, which is how long it took Chicago's Devin Hester to return the opening kickoff in Super Bowl XLI against Manning's Colts.

It was the third straight Super Bowl to feature a safety and the ninth safety in Super Bowl history. It also was the second time that the first score in a Super Bowl was a safety. In Super Bowl XLVI, New England's Tom Brady was penalized for intentional grounding against the Giants at the 8:52 mark of the first quarter.

It was an embarrassing start for NFL MVP Manning and the Broncos' high-powered offense and a portent of things to come. "Nobody's fault," Manning said. "Not Manny's fault. Just a noise issue."

Seattle won the coin toss (the coin was tossed twice by Jets legend Joe Namath) and decided to give the ball to Denver to start the game. It was a tactical decision by coach Pete Carroll to put his defense on the field first and get the ball to start the second half. It worked out beautifully both times, as the Seahawks also scored 12 seconds into the second half on Percy Harvin's 87-yard kickoff return.

It also helped the Seahawks that Denver's Trindon Holliday decided to bring back the opening kickoff from six yards deep in the end zone. He was tackled at the 14-yard line instead of the 20, which is where Denver would have started its first possession if Holliday had simply taken a knee in the end zone.

Or maybe it wouldn't have mattered. Ramirez's snap went way over a surprised Manning's right shoulder and into the end zone. Manning actually was moving forward toward his center and was not expecting the ball, as he obviously hadn't called for it yet. "None of us heard the snap count," Ramirez said. "I thought I did."

Coach John Fox called it "a little bit of a cadence issue."

To add insult to the safety, Manning was called for illegal motion for his pre-snap moving and gesticulating. The jubilant Seahawks declined the penalty.

"It was unfortunate for them," Carroll said. "We had nothing to do with it."

After the safety and ensuing free kick, Seattle got the ball back at its 36. A 31-yard field goal by Steven Hauschka made it 5-0, and the Seahawks were on their way to a rout.


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