September 16, 2014

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Super Bowl XLVIII: Seahawks shut down Peyton Manning and Broncos, cruise to first title

Seattle Seahawks' Malcolm Smith, center, the Super Bowl's MVP, celebrates with president Peter McLoughlin. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

Seattle Seahawks’ Malcolm Smith, center, the Super Bowl’s MVP, celebrates with president Peter McLoughlin. (AP Photo/Chris O’Meara)

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Waiting to get their hands on the Lombardi Trophy, the Seahawks were surrounded by security guards in orange jackets. It was the first time anyone in that color stopped them all night.

The Seahawks stayed true to their mantra to make each day a championship day. They made Super Bowl Sunday the best day of all with one of the greatest performances in an NFL title game — sparked by a defense that ranks among the best ever.

The Seahawks won their first Super Bowl crown by punishing Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos 43-8. That masterful defense, the NFL’s stingiest, never let the five-time MVP get going, disarming the highest-scoring offense in league history.

“The only way we could say we were the best defense was to take down the best offense,” linebacker Bobby Wagner said.

Seattle (16-3) was too quick, too physical and just too good for Denver. What was hyped as a classic matchup between an unstoppable offense and a miserly defense turned into a rout.

“We’ve been relentless all season,” quarterback Russell Wilson said. “Having that mentality of having a championship day every day. At the end of the day, you want to play your best football and that is what we did today.”

Punctuating Seattle’s dominance were a 69-yard interception return touchdown by linebacker Malcolm Smith to make it 22-0, and Percy Harvin’s sensational 87-yard kickoff return to open the second half.

“I always imagined myself making great plays,” said Smith, the game’s MVP. “Never thought about being the MVP.”

When the Seahawks, up by 29 points, forced a Denver punt early in the third quarter, the 12th Man — and there were legions of them in MetLife Stadium — began chanting “L-O-B, L-O-B.”

As in Legion of Boom, the Seahawks’ hard-hitting secondary, part of a young team with an average age of 26 years, 138 days.

“This is an amazing team. Took us four years to get to this point, but they never have taken a step sideways,” coach Pete Carroll said. “These guys would not take anything but winning this ballgame.”

The loss by the Broncos again raised questions about Manning’s ability to win the biggest games. He is 11-12 in the postseason, 1-2 in Super Bowls. After the game, he brushed off questions about his legacy.

“Certainly to finish this way is very disappointing. It’s not an easy pill to swallow,” said Manning, who threw for a record 55 touchdowns in 2013, two years after missing an entire season because of neck surgeries. “I don’t know if you ever really get over it.”

He never looked comfortable against a defense some will begin comparing to the 1985 Bears and 2000 Ravens — other NFL champions who had runaway Super Bowl victories.

Seattle forced four turnovers. Denver had 26 all season.

All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman left with a high ankle sprain in the fourth quarter. He celebrated on crutches.

“I hope we etched our names in the history books,” Sherman said.

Wilson, who has an NFL-record 28 wins in his first two pro seasons, including playoffs, had a 23-yard TD pass to Jermaine Kearse late in the third quarter to make it 36-0.

Wilson also hit Doug Baldwin for a 10-yard score in the final period in what had become one of the most lopsided Super Bowls. For the fifth time in six meetings between the NFL’s No. 1 offense and defense, the D dominated.

“It’s all about making history,” All-Pro safety Earl Thomas said. “This was a dominant performance from top to bottom.”

Denver fell to 2-5 in Super Bowls, and by the end many of Manning’s passes resembled the “ducks” Sherman said the All-Pro quarterback sometimes threw.

The victory was particularly sweet for Carroll, fired in 1994 by the Jets. He led the Patriots for three seasons and again was canned. After a short stint out of coaching, he took over at Southern California and won two national titles.

But he always felt there was unfinished business in the NFL. Carroll finished that business by lifting the Vince Lombardi Trophy, four years after taking charge in Seattle and eight years after the Seahawks lost in their only previous Super Bowl to Pittsburgh.

No Super Bowl had been played outdoors in a cold-weather city — not that the Big Apple was anything close to frozen Sunday, when it was 49 degrees at kickoff.

Things went sour for Manning and the Broncos from the first scrimmage play, and by halftime they were down 22-0 — their biggest deficit of the season and the only time they didn’t score in a half.

On that first play, Manning stepped up toward the line just as center Manny Ramirez snapped the ball. It flew past his incredulous quarterback into the end zone, where Knowshon Moreno dived on it for a safety.

A mere 12 seconds in, Seattle led 2-0 with the quickest score in Super Bowl history, beating Chicago’s Devin Hester’s kickoff return to open the 2007 game — against Manning’s Colts.

That one ended much better for Manning as Indianapolis won the championship. This one was a fiasco throughout.

Steven Hauschka made 31- and 33-yard field goals for 8-0. Then the Seahawks began scoring touchdowns.

Manning’s third-down pass to Julius Thomas sailed way too high and directly to safety Kam Chancellor, giving the Seahawks the ball at Denver’s 37. A third-down pass interference call on Tony Carter brought Seattle to the 1, and Marshawn Lynch scored to make it 15-0.

Then Smith made his second huge play in two weeks. His interception clinched the NFC championship win over San Francisco.

Cliff Avril got to Manning’s arm as he was throwing, the ball fluttered directly to Smith, who took off down the left sideline for a 69-yard interception TD.

Seattle 8 14 14 7 — 43
Denver 0 0 8 0 — 8

First Quarter
Sea—Avril safety, 14:48. Seattle 2, Denver 0.
Sea—FG Hauschka 31, 10:21. Drive: 9 plays, 51 yards, 4:27. Key Plays: Harvin 30 run; Wilson 12 pass to Kearse on
3rd-and-9. Seattle 5, Denver 0.
Sea—FG Hauschka 33, 2:16. Drive: 13 plays, 58 yards, 6:15. Key Plays: Wilson 9 pass to Tate on 3rd-and-7; Wilson 6 pass to Baldwin on 3rd-and-4; Wilson 37 pass to Baldwin on 3rd-and-5. Seattle 8, Denver 0.

Second Quarter
Sea—Lynch 1 run (Hauschka kick), 12:00. Drive: 7 plays, 37 yards, 3:59. Key Plays: Chancellor 2 interception return to Denver 37; Harvin 15 run; T.Carter 4-yard defensive pass interference penalty on 3rd-and-4. Seattle 15, Denver 0.
Sea—Smith 69 interception return (Hauschka kick), 3:21. Seattle 22, Denver 0.

Third Quarter
Sea—Harvin 87 kickoff return (Hauschka kick), 14:48. Seattle 29, Denver 0.
Sea—Kearse 23 pass from Wilson (Hauschka kick), 2:58. Drive: 6 plays, 58 yards, 2:57. Key Plays: Smith 7 fumble return (D.Thomas); Franklin 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalty; Wilson 12 pass to Willson on
3rd-and-7; Wilson 19 pass to Lockette. Seattle 36, Denver 0.
Den—D.Thomas 14 pass from Manning (Welker pass from Manning), :00. Drive: 6 plays, 80 yards, 2:58. Key Plays: Maxwell 20-yard defensive pass interference penalty on 3rd-and-9; Manning 12 pass to Welker; Manning 11 pass to Tamme; Manning 22 pass to Welker. Seattle 36, Denver 8.

Fourth Quarter
Sea—Baldwin 10 pass from Wilson (Hauschka kick), 11:45. Drive: 5 plays, 65 yards, 3:15. Key Plays: Team onside kick recovery at Seattle 35; Team onside kick recovery at Seattle 35; Wilson 10 pass to Miller; Wilson 6 pass to Baldwin on 3rd-and-2; Wilson 24 pass to Kearse. Seattle 43, Denver 8.
A—82,529.

Team statistics
Sea Den
FIRST DOWNS 17 18
Rushing 6 2
Passing 10 13
Penalty 1 3
THIRD DOWN EFF 7-12 6-13
FOURTH DOWN EFF 0-2 0-3
TOTAL NET YARDS 341 306
Total Plays 55 64
Avg Gain 6.2 4.8
NET YARDS RUSHING 135 27
Rushes 29 14
Avg per rush 4.7 1.9
NET YARDS PASSING 206 279
Sacked-Yds lost 0-0 1-1
Gross-Yds passing 206 280
Completed-Att. 18-26 34-49
Had Intercepted 0 2
Yards-Pass Play 7.9 5.6
KICKOFFS-EZ-TB 8-6-3 3-0-0
PUNTS-Avg. 1-45.0 2-30.0
Punts blocked 0 0
FGs-PATs blocked 0-0 0-0
TOTAL RETURN YDG 178 114
Punt Returns 0-0 1-9
Kickoff Returns 2-107 5-105
Interceptions 2-71 0-0
PENALTIES-Yds 10-104 5-44
FUMBLES-Lost 0-0 4-2
TIME OF POSSESSION 31:53 28:07
INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS
RUSHING
Seattle No Yds Avg Lg TD
Harvin 2 45 22.5 30 0
Lynch 15 39 2.6 18 1
Wilson 3 26 8.7 16 0
Turbin 9 25 2.8 6 0
Total 29 135 4.7 30 1
Denver No Yds Avg Lg TD
Moreno 5 17 3.4 9 0
Anderson 2 9 4.5 6 0
Ball 6 1 0.2 3 0
Manning 1 0 0.0 0 0
Total 14 27 1.9 0 0
PASSING
Seattle Att Cmp Yds TD Long Int
Wilson 25 18 206 2 37 0
Jackson 1 0 0 0 0 0
Total 26 18 206 2 37 0
Denver Att Cmp Yds TD Long Int
Manning 49 34 280 1 23 2
Total 49 34 280 1 23 2
RECEIVING
Seattle No Yds Lg TD
Baldwin 5 66 37 1
Kearse 4 65 24 1
Tate 3 17 9 0
Willson 2 17 12 0
Lockette 1 19 19 0
Miller 1 10 10 0
Robinson 1 7 7 0
Harvin 1 5 5 0
Total 18 206 37 2
Denver No Yds Lg TD
D.Thomas 13 118 23 1
Welker 8 84 22 0
J.Thomas 4 27 11 0
Moreno 3 20 7 0
Tamme 2 9 14 0
Ball 2 2 1 0
Anderson 1 14 14 0
Decker 1 6 6 0
Total 34 280 23 1
INTERCEPTION
Seattle No Yds Lg TD
M.Smith 1 69 69 1
Chancellor 1 2 2 0
Totals 2 71 69 1
Denver No Yds Lg TD
Totals 0 0 0 0
PUNTING
Seattle No Avg Lg I20
Ryan 1 45.0 45 0
Total 1 45.0 45 0
Denver No Avg Lg I20
Colquitt 2 30.0 31 1
Total 2 30.0 31 1
PUNT RETURNS
Seattle No Yds FC Lg TD
Tate 0 0 2 0 0
Total 0 0 2 0 0
Denver No Yds FC Lg TD
Decker 1 9 0 9 0
Total 1 9 0 9 0
KICKOFF RETURNS
Seattle No Yds Lg TD
Harvin 1 87 87 1
Tate 1 20 20 0
Total 2 107 87 1
Denver No Yds Lg TD
Holliday 5 105 32 0
Total 5 105 32 0
DEFENSE
Seattle
Fumbles
T A S Fcd Rec
Chancellor 6 4 0 0 0
Smith 6 4 0 0 1
Thomas 6 1 0 0 0
Wagner 5 5 0 0 0
Wright 5 2 0 0 0
Maxwell 4 0 0 1 0
McDonald 3 2 0 0 1
Avril 3 0 0 0 0
Mebane 3 0 0 0 0
Clemons 2 1 1 2 0
Sherma n 2 1 0 0 0
Total 55 29 1 3 2
Denver
Fumbles
T A S Fcd Rec
Trevathan 7 5 0 0 0
Adams 6 0 0 0 0
Inenacho 5 4 0 0 0
Jackson 4 1 0 0 0
Knighton 4 1 0 0 0
Bailey 4 0 0 0 0
Irving 3 1 0 0 0
Williams 2 0 0 0 0
Lenon 2 0 0 0 0
J.Thomas 2 0 0 0 0
Phillips 1 3 0 0 0
Total 48 22 0 0 2
Time: 3:23.