By Paul Doyle, The Hartford Courant
But Peyton Manning and his Broncos fell into an early hole and never found their footing against the Seattle defense. And the Seahawks compiled points on a safety, an interception return and a kickoff return to pull away.
The result was a blowout in a game that was expected to be close. The Seahawks dominated from the first snap to the final whistle, winning their first Super Bowl title with 43-8 victory before an announced crowd of 82,529 Sunday night at MetLife Stadium.
The Seahawks lost to the Steelers in Super Bowl XL, the franchise’s only other title game appearance. The city’s only other titles were won by the NBA’s SuperSonics in 1979 and the WNBA’s Storm (2004, 2010).
Manning completed a Super Bowl 34 passes and receiver Demaryius Thomas set a record with 13 receptions. But Manning was unable to secure his second title.
The Seahawks average age is 26.4 years, matching the 1971 Miami Dolphins as the youngest Super Bowl champion in history.
The victory was also the first for coach Pete Carroll, the former coach of the Jets and the Patriots.
“It was a great team win,” quarterback Russell Wilson said. “The defense was relentless, offensively we were cooking on all cylinders.”
From the first snap, Manning and the Broncos was struggling. On first-and-10 from the Denver 14, the snap from center Manny Ramirez sailed past Manning and bounced into the end zone where running back Knowshon Moreno recovered the ball and was tackled by Cliff Avril for a safety. Manning was in shotgun formation, but was walking to the line of scrimmage and did not have his hands raised when Ramirez unleashed the snap.
So 12 seconds into the game, the Seahawks had a 2-0 lead. It was the fastest score in Super Bowl history, two seconds quicker than Devin Hester’s kickoff return for a touchdown to start the game in 2007.
The Seahawks drive 51 yards on nine plays on the ensuing possession, extending the lead to 5-0 on a 31-yard field goal by Steven Hauschka.
The Broncos got the ball back on its own 35 and the Broncos punted after three downs, as the Seattle defense stifled Manning. There were two completions by Manning, but the Seahawks didn’t allow yards after the reception.
And Manning was on the sideline as the Seahawks ate 6 minutes, 15 seconds off the clock with a 13-play, 58-yard drive. The most significant play of the drive was a 37-yard pass from Wilson to Doug Baldwin that moved the ball to the Denver 6.
Again, the Seahawks came with three points as Hauschka kicked a 33-yard field goal to make it 8-0.
But Manning continued to stall. On third-and-7 at the Denver 23, Manning threw a deep pass over the middle for Julius Thomas. The ball sailed high over Thomas and into the arms of Kam Chancellor, who intercepted the pass.
The Seahawks took over on the Denver 37 and they immediately gained 15 yards when Harvin took a handoff on an end around. The Seahawks eventually drove to the Denver 1 when Broncos cornerback Tony Clark was called for pass interference on Golden Tate in the end zone.
Two plays later, Marshawn Lynch scored from one yard out and Hauschka’s point-after kick made it 15-0.
The Broncos were in a two-touchdown hole and Manning had had the ball for all of seven plays. On the next possession, the Broncos began piecing together a drive as Manning completed seven of nine passes to move the ball to the Seattle 35.
But Manning’s arm was hit by Avril as he was releasing the ball on the next play and the floater was intercepted by linebacker Malcolm Smith, who scampered 69 yards for a touchdown. Hauschka’s kick made it 22-0 and the game seemed over.
And the Bruno Mars halftime show was barely over when the Seahawks padded their lead. Harvin took the opening kickoff the second half and ran 87 yards for a touchdown. It was 29-0 when Manning touche the ball for the first time in the second half.
And the lead was extended to 36-0 when Wilson connected with Jermaine Kearse, who broke tackles and ran in for a 23-yard touchdown catch.
As the third quarter ended, Manning finally put points on the scoreboard when he tossed a 14-yard touchdown pass to Demaryius Thomas and found Wes Welker for the two-point conversion pass.
But the Seahawks answered on their next possession, recovering an onside kick on the Denver 48 and driving to the end zone for yet another touchdown. Wilson threw a 10-yard pass to Baldwin for the score and the team that averaged 26 points per game in the regular season had exceeded 40.