The Seahawks turned New York into a Boom-town.
Behind the strength of their top-ranked defense, they pummeled Peyton Manning and the Broncos' record-setting offense for a 43-8 win in Super Bowl XLVIII at MetLife Stadium Sunday night. Their secondary, which adopted the nickname "Legion of Boom,'' held the MVP quarterback to one touchdown pass and dished out the third most lopsided result in Super Bowl history. And with it they brought the Lombardi Trophy to the Pacific Northwest for the first time in franchise history.
The anticipated clash between Denver's offense and Seattle's defense turned out to be as one-directional as the flow of traffic on Broadway in the Big Apple. After being spoiled by a string of exciting games -- six of the previous seven Super Bowls were decided by less than a touchdown -- the 82,529 in the stadium and millions of viewers on television saw the most one-sided Super Bowl since the Cowboys beat the Bills, 52-17, in Super Bowl XXVII.
"It's just the way we play,'' coach Pete Carroll said of his team's defensive effort.
While the Seahawks celebrated for the first time, the Broncos became the first team to lose five Super Bowls. Manning's record in Super Bowls dropped to 1-2 as he took his NFL-record 12th postseason loss.
The Seahawks had similar success in their previous visit to the area. They intercepted Eli Manning five times in a 23-0 win over the Giants in December.
Safety Earl Thomas said he didn't watch much video of Peyton Manning's 55-touchdown season as he prepared to face the Broncos. There was no point in doing so.
"When you watch the highlight tapes, the one thing you notice is that it's not our personnel out there,'' he said. "It's not the Seahawks.''
Sunday night, it was, and they made Manning nearly unrecognizable. He completed a Super Bowl-record 33 passes, but none for more than 23 yards.
"It was our time to show the world we're the best defense,'' linebacker Bobby Wagner said, "and we did it on the biggest stage.''
That one of the unit's least-known members, linebacker Malcolm Smith -- who was not even a starter when the season began -- wound up as the MVP of the game pointed to just how deep and balanced the Seahawks' defense is. Smith returned an interception 69 yards for a TD in the first half and recovered a fumble in the second half.
"We knew they were an excellent defense as far as the scheme we thought they were going to play,'' Manning said. "They executed better than we did.''
Although the mantra of defense winning championships held true, the Seahawks actually played one of the most balanced games in Super Bowl history, scoring touchdowns on offense, defense and special teams.
Russell Wilson completed 18 of 25 passes for 206 yards and two touchdowns. But the game will be remembered for the defense, a unit that cornerback Richard Sherman called a group of "misfits'' because of their lack of draft pick pedigree.
It didn't take long for the Seahawks to assert themselves, or for the Broncos to wither. On the game's first play from scrimmage, center Manny Ramirez's snap sailed over a surprised Manning and into the end zone. Running back Knowshon Moreno recovered it for the Broncos but was tackled for a safety. Those two points were the fastest ever scored in Super Bowl history, coming 12 seconds into the game.
"When you fumble the first snap, maybe you are scared of this defense,'' Wagner said.
The Seahawks added a pair of field goals to go ahead 8-0, then scored a touchdown on a 1-yard run by Marshawn Lynch for a 15-0 lead before the Broncos had even managed a first down. The TD drive started when Kam Chancellor intercepted a pass by Manning that sailed over the head of Julius Thomas. Cliff Avril batted Manning's arm on the pass.
On the next drive, Manning was sandwiched between Avril and Chris Clemons while trying to throw on third-and-13. The ball floated and was intercepted by Smith, who returned it 69 yards for a 22-0 advantage. It was the longest interception for a touchdown since the Saints' Tracy Porter brought one back 74 yards in Super Bowl XLIV . . . against Manning.
No team celebrates its 12th man more than the Seahawks, so it seemed appropriate that they scored 12 seconds into the game and 12 seconds into the second half. They matched their scoring rapidity at the start of the third quarter when Percy Harvin returned the kickoff 87 yards for a touchdown.
The Broncos wanted to keep the ball out of Harvin's hands and kicked it short, but the wide receiver -- who missed all but three games this season because of injuries -- caught it on a bounce and split the coverage for a 29-0 lead.
Manning's 14-yard touchdown pass to Demaryius Thomas produced the first points scored by the Broncos. It took a full 45 minutes of play, and Manning then completed a two-point conversion pass to Wes Welker to make it 36-8 after three quarters.
Wagner said he wasn't surprised by the remarkable effort his unit produced. "We thought we could hold them to zero points,'' he said, adding that it was "very disappointing'' to lose the shutout.
As the Seahawks have told themselves after every other season in their existence that ended without a championship . . . there's always next year.