The Seattle Seahawks left fingerprints on the Lombardi Trophy for the first time in franchise history, defeating the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII held in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
Both teams finished with a 13–3 record in the regular season, and were the top seeds in both of their conferences. This marks the first time since 2010 (when the Saints defeated the Colts in Super Bowl XLIV) that both number one seeds have represented their conference in the Super Bowl.
The Broncos, led by 5-time MVP quarterback Peyton Manning, set an NFL record for most points scored in a regular season with 606 points. Considered by experts to be one of the most prolific offenses in NFL history, it was safe to say that they were the favorites going into the game. But that didn’t prevent the NFL’s number one ranked defense from stopping them.
“The only way that we could say we were the best defense was to take down the best offense” linebacker Bobby Wagner said.
And that was precisely what they went out and did.
In the first quarter of the game, the Broncos got off to a rough start when center Manny Ramirez snapped the football right over Peyton Manning before he was ready to take the snap. Perhaps it was the loud crowd noise from Seattle’s “12th man” that contributed to this miscommunication. Luckily, Knowshon Moreno was able to recover the football in the endzone and give up a safety as opposed to a touchdown. But afterwards, it really didn’t matter when it all went downhill from there for the Broncos.
The Seahawks offense was able to convert key third down plays and drive the ball towards the goal line. Ultimately, they were forced to settle for two field goals in the first quarter from kicker Steven Hauschka in the red zone.
In the second quarter of the game, Pro Bowl runningback Marshawn Lynch went into beast mode, scoring the first touchdown for the Seahawks inside the red zone. Quarterback Russell Wilson went 18 for 25 with 2 passing touchdowns and was able to convert key third down plays to keep the drive alive for the offense. Receivers Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse each caught touchdown passes from Russell Wilson and were able to keep the Broncos secondary on their heels the entire game.
The game already looked as though it was out of reach for the Broncos after halftime, trailing 28–0 after Percy Harvin took it to the house for an 87 yard kick return touchdown. The former Vikings receiver was injured most of the season after being acquired by the Seahawks in exchange for last year’s first round draft selection. But he certainly made up for it with a Desmond Howard type of return that put the nail in the coffin against the Broncos. By the time Manning was able to throw his one and only touchdown to Wes Welker, the score was already 36–8 and hope was diminishing.
All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman was quick to congratulate Peyton Manning and the Broncos, saying that “Manning is one of the best Quarterbacks I’ve ever played against.” Sherman was forced to be in crutches after suffering an injury late in the fourth quarter.
The MVP of the game was given to linebacker Malcolm Smith, who made the key play against the San Francisco 49ers catching an interception that was tipped from teammate Richard Sherman. After the game, he said “I always imagined myself making great plays. Never thought about being the MVP.”
Seattle’s performance on defense has led critics to draw comparisons to the 1985 Chicago Bears and the 2000 Baltimore Ravens teams. This marks the first time in eight years that the Seahawks have been to the Super Bowl after losing to the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2006. The Denver Broncos have a record of 2–5 in Super Bowl history, making them the team with the most losses in Super Bowl history.