Super Bowl XLVIII: Seattle Seahawks Thrash Denver Broncos
Marshawn Lynch’s one-yard touchdown run and Malcolm Smith’s 69-yard interception return helped Seattle into a deserved 22-0 lead at the break.Percy Harvin returned the second-half kick-off 87 yards for another touchdown to all but end a horribly one-sided affair in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
It was the first Super Bowl staged outdoors in a cold-weather state.
Pre-match fears of an 82,500-strong crowd having to endure sub-zero conditions proved groundless, with the temperature at the roofless MetLife Stadium just outside New York hovering around 7C (44F).
The week leading up to biggest annual event in the US sporting calendar was also dominated by talk of whether Denver’s top-rated offence – led by veteran quarterback Peyton Manning – could be contained by Seattle’s number one-ranked defence.
In Superman’s New-York inspired Metropolis, when an apparently unstoppable force meets an immovable object, they surrender.
And that is exactly what Denver’s attacking line-up did when they ran into a hard-hitting, rampant Seattle defence.
Despite winning the National Football League’s Most Valuable Player award for an unprecedented fifth time following a record-laden regular season, and already owning one Super Bowl winner’s ring from his time with the Indianapolis Colts, 37-year-old Manning has long been accused of choking when it really counts, in the play-offs.
He has now lost 12 of 23 post-season games – more than any other player in NFL history.
And Manning’s third appearance on the sport’s biggest stage seemed to begin with the kind of nervy performance most would have expected from his opposite number, second-year quarterback Russell Wilson.
The opening play from scrimmage ended in high farce as the snap sailed over Manning’s head and into Denver’s endzone. Rather than risking giving up a touchdown, running back Knowshon Moreno fell on the loose ball to concede the two points awarded for American football’s equivalent of an own goal.
Seattle extended their lead to 8-0 courtesy of a pair of Steven Hauschka field goals before Manning threw the first of two costly interceptions.
Under pressure from the blitzing Seattle defence, his wild pass sailed straight into the grateful hands of Kam Chancellor, part of the Seahawks’ feared secondary which has been dubbed the “Legion Of Boom”.
Chancellor’s team-mate Marshawn Lynch, known as “Beast Mode”, then bulldozed his way into the endzone for the game’s first touchdown.
Just when it looked like the Broncos were getting their act together offensively, Manning was again picked off.
Under huge pressure on 3rd & 13 on Seattle’s 35-yard line, the veteran’s throwing arm was hit as he released his pass. Linebacker Malcolm Smith gobbled up the wobbling ball and returned it 69 yards for a touchdown.
Even the choice of songs in the spectacular, pyrotechnic-filled half-time show was cruelly ironic for the Broncos. After Grammy Award-winner Bruno Mars performed one of his biggest hits, Runaway Baby, the Red Hot Chili Peppers followed with Give It Away.
At least Denver’s head coach John Fox had an extended break in which to rally his troops and work out how his offensive line could better protect Manning and give him more time in which to find his targets through the air.
But his teamtalk was blown to smithereens immediately when Percy Harvin evaded at least three tackles to return the second-half kick-off 87 yards for a touchdown.
Jermaine Kearse further humiliated the Broncos when he received Russell Wilson’s pass, spun 360 degrees to evade a pair of converging defenders, and trotted into the endzone for a 23-yard score.
The Broncos eventually got on the board with the final play of the third quarter, Manning’s well-judged 14-yard pass caught in the endzone by Demaryius Thomas.
Manning found Wes Welker on the two-point conversion attempt, but it was little consolation for Denver, who have now been beaten in five of their seven Super Bowl appearances.
And Seattle rubbed salt into their wounds when Doug Baldwin caught Wilson’s short pass and ducked under more woeful tackling for yet another touchdown, sealing a 43-8 victory.
Smith, who recovered a fumble in addition to his interception return for a touchdown, was named Most Valuable Player but, in truth, this was the ultimate team performance by the Seahawks.
Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning (completed 34 of 49 passes for 280 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions, as well as losing a fumble) said: “We knew they were fast. It was still a matter of us doing our jobs better and we didn’t do that.
“I think we played a great football team. We needed to play really well in order to win and we didn’t come anywhere close to that.”
Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (18 of 25 for 206 yards and two passing touchdowns) said: “We been relentless all season. Having that mentality of having a Championship day every day.
“We believed that we could get here. At the beginning of the season I told our guys, ‘Hey, why not us?’
“We had the talent. We had the coaching. We have the best fans in the National Football League. We wanted to win it all.”