EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The legend of Peyton Manning ran into the "Legion of Boom" defense and the ensuing Super Bowl carnage was XLVIII-rated.
Seattle's young and voracious defense manhandled Manning, 37, and his slightly favored Denver Broncos, 43-8, at MetLife Stadium. On a brilliant winter night in metropolitan New York's first Super Bowl, the orange-clad Broncos took the big apple.
"The Legion of Boom, baby!" Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman proclaimed. "I hope we etched our names in the history books. This is the No. 1 offense in the history of the NFL."
The lopsided victory lifted the Seahawks out of the group of 14 NFL teams that have never won a Super Bowl. Their suffocating defense, ranked first in the NFL in style and fact, lowered the boom on the Broncos, who emerged from the MetLife Stadium tunnel on Groundhog Day and played four quarters of very bad football.
"All those people who claim defense wins championship can gloat for a while," Seattle coach Pete Carroll said. "We played football the way we know how to play. We played our style of football."
Manning, who comically set a Super Bowl record with 34 pass completions, was intercepted twice -- once for a touchdown -- and lost a fumble. He completed 34 of 49 for 280 of mostly inconsequential yards.
"It's not an easy pill to swallow, but eventually we have to," Manning said. "They have an excellent defense, they played well and they executed better than we did."
The Seahawks scored a safety on the opening possession of the game, followed by touchdowns on Malcolm Smith's 69-yard interception return, on Marshawn Lynch's 1-yard run, on Percy Harvin's 87-yard kickoff return to open the second half, and on two touchdown passes by Russell Wilson of 23 yards to Jermaine Kearse and 10 yards to Doug Baldwin. Steven Hauschka also kicked two field goals for the Seahawks.
"The defense was relentless," said Wilson, the first second-year quarterback to win a Super Bowl since Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger eight years ago.
Sunday will rank among the most dominant victories in the Super Bowl's 48-year history, especially with the previously prolific, No. 1-ranked Denver offense part of it. The score threatened the most lopsided ever, another Denver loss, 55-10, to the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl XXIV.
"It's all about making history," Seattle safety Earl Thomas said. "This was a dominant performance from top to bottom."
Manning's teams are 11-12 in the postseason, 2-2 in his two seasons with the Broncos. He has one Super Bowl victory, with the Colts, but Denver coach John Fox said this Super Bowl loss would not detract from his legend.
"Ludicrous maybe would be the proper English," Fox said of such a suggestion.
The Seahawks took even greater pride in humbling one of the game's all-time greats.
"Peyton Manning may go down as one of the greatest to ever play the game," Sherman said, "and we're just blessed to have an opportunity to play against him. I can't believe it."
Sunday, Denver looked more like the franchise's first four turns at the Super Bowl when the Broncos were rubbed out by a total of 163-50.
While overshadowed by its defense, Seattle's offense was efficient and turnover free. Wilson completed 18 of 25 passes for 206 yards and two touchdowns. The Seahawks did it even though Lynch, the NFL's fourth-leading rusher, was relatively ineffective with just 39 yards on 15 carries. Harvin actually led Seattle with 45 yards rushing on two end runs.
Manning and his offense got in trouble from the start. Before halftime he had a ball snapped over his head for a safety on the game's first play and had thrown two interceptions, one returned for a touchdown as Seattle jumped in front, 22-0.
It became 36-0 before Denver scored on the final play of the third quarter on Manning's 14-yard pass to Demaryius Thomas. In the regular season, Manning set an NFL record with 55 touchdown passes.
"I told him he had a great season, a record-breaking season," Fox said, "and he just came up a little short [Sunday]."
An omen came on the game's first play. Manning stood in the shotgun and then did what he almost always does, he approached the line of scrimmage to start calling out this that and the other thing. But center Manny Ramirez inexplicably snapped the ball over his quarterback's head and into the end zone. Knowshon Moreno recovered for Denver, but it was a 2-point safety for Seattle.
With just 12 seconds gone, it was the fastest score in Super Bowl history, and the rout was on.
It became 5-0 when Hauschka kicked a 31-yard field goal on the Seahawks' first drive, then 8-0 when Hauschka booted a 33-yard field goal later in the first quarter.
Manning then completed a horrible first quarter by overthrowing Julius Thomas and right into the hands of safety Kam Chancellor for his first interception.
Seattle took over at Denver's 37 and marched toward the game's first touchdown, a 1-yard run by Lynch early in the second quarter. The Seahawks led, 15-0.
It became 22-0 in quick order when Manning was intercepted a second time. This one wasn't as much his fault because linebacker Cliff Avril slammed into Manning as he was throwing and the pass went awry, but it had a more immediate effect.
Fellow linebacker Malcolm Smith, voted the game's MVP, intercepted the wobbly throw and raced 69 yards for a touchdown.
It was then open season on the Denver Broncos, and the Seattle Seahawks bagged their first Lombardi Trophy.
So did Denver’s reputation as an unstoppable force.
Ed Bouchette: firstname.lastname@example.org and Twitter @EdBouchette. First Published February 2, 2014 10:08 PM