The word "blowout" doesn't do justice to the beating the Seattle Seahawks laid on the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII. In a rare display of championship dominance, Pete Carroll's rowdy squad won by the blowout score of 43-8.
The Seattle Seahawks are Super Bowl Champions! pic.twitter.com/VEpldJHF0s— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) February 3, 2014
Peyton Manning couldn't rally his Broncos, and he couldn't even manage a first down until the second quarter. In the battle between the top-ranked offense and defense in the NFL, Seattle's "Legion of Boom" laid the hammer down hard, humiliating Denver mercilessly throughout the contest.
Manning finished the game with 280 yards on 34-of-49 passing, completing one touchdown while throwing two back-breaking interceptions.
All in all, Seattle forced four turnovers, including a pick-six by the eventual MVP, linebacker Malcolm Smith, who also came up with a fumble recovery. As noted by ESPN Stats & Info, Smith is the first linebacker to win the trophy since Ray Lewis did it for the Baltimore Ravens back in 2001:
Malcolm Smith is the first linebacker to win Super Bowl MVP since Ray Lewis for the Ravens in XXXV. Check it out: pic.twitter.com/f4xxFzI3QL— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) February 3, 2014
Former NFL defensive back and current B/R NFL analyst Matt Bowen provided a bit of forward-looking insight regarding Seattle's dominant defensive performance:
The #Seahawks defense created a teaching tape tonight for the rest of the NFL to study this offseason.— Matt Bowen (@MattBowen41) February 3, 2014
All in all, the game was pretty boring for non-Seahawks fans, and it was practically unwatchable to anyone wearing Denver orange before the game began. The Seahawks essentially took the Broncos behind the woodshed and laid into them for 60 minutes.
Here's a look at the biggest plays of the game.
Seattle Scores in 12 Seconds
The game got off to an unbelievable start.
After putting up the best offensive numbers in the history of the league during the regular season, Denver's opening offensive play in Super Bowl XLVIII ended up putting points on the board.
Unfortunately for the Broncos, those points went to Seattle, after the Seahawks were gifted a safety when center Manny Ramirez snapped the ball over Manning's head and into the end zone. Knowshon Moreno then fell on the ball and skidded out of the end zone for an automatic safety.
Ramirez spoke about the play after the game, as relayed by USA Today's Lindsay H. Jones.
"We were trying to go on cadence, and we weren't able to. I thought I heard him, and I snapped the ball," he said. "I was shocked. You never expect anything like that to happen. Of course I'll take full blame for that."
That should have been a clear sign of what was to come.
Malcolm Smith's Signature Play
Seattle had just gone up 15-0 after Marshawn Lynch scored a one-yard touchdown, and Denver desperately needed to respond with a scoring drive.
And it looked like Manning had his offense going for the first time in the game, too.
Starting from their own 16-yard line, the Broncos had methodically worked their way down to Seattle's 35-yard line on a 15-play drive. Rather than finish with points, however, the Broncos gave some away.
Cliff Avril got around the corner and hit Manning as he was attempting to convert his fifth first down of the drive. The ball popped up into the air, well short of Knowshon Moreno, who was the intended target.
It then fell into the arms of Smith, who ran past Denver's offensive linemen and scored a 69-yard touchdown.
With that score, Seattle was able to take a 22-0 lead into halftime, leaving the Broncos, and the rest of America, stunned.
The Return of Percy Harvin
Heading into the second half, the Seahawks were set to receive the ball on the kickoff.
Needless to say, after the happenings of the first half, Denver needed a quick defensive stop and a scoring drive from its offense to avoid a complete blowout.
But that's not what happened—far from it.
Kicker Matt Prater tried to avoid kicking the ball to Percy Harvin, who was awaiting it in Seattle's end zone. He perfectly executed an angled pooch, which landed in front of Harvin as designed.
Unfortunately, the Broncos' coverage team dropped the ball, and 87 yards later, Harvin had the Seahawks up 29-0 with just seconds off the clock in the third quarter.
Marc Sessler of NFL.com points out how amazing it was to see Harvin, who had only played in 40 snaps all year for Seattle, was able to impact the game like he did:
How many players in the league can walk into a Super Bowl with 40 snaps on the year and light up the night like Percy Harvin? #Seahawks— Marc Sessler (@MarcSesslerNFL) February 3, 2014
Icing on the Cake
Later in the third quarter, Smith came up with his second turnover of the game when Demaryius Thomas fumbled the ball. The turnover gave Seattle the ball on its own 42-yard line, and it looked like the Seahawks could just run the clock out with a heavy dose of Lynch.
However, Carroll and his coaching staff had other ideas.
Russell Wilson took a couple of shots downfield, connecting with tight end Luke Willson on a 12-yard completion and Ricardo Lockette on a 19-yard pass, setting up the Seahawks in scoring range on Denver's 23-yard line.
Rather than attempt to run the ball in, Wilson took to the air once again, hitting Jermaine Kearse on a simple slant. Denver should have stopped him near the 10-yard line, but he broke through two tackles to bully his way into the end zone for the score.
His extra effort typified the difference in the game between the two teams. The Seahawks brought a different level of ferocity to the fight than the Broncos did, as the final score of 43-8 clearly illustrates.
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