Running back Knowshon Moreno #27 of the Denver Broncos is tackled by defensive tackle Clinton McDonald #69 and defensive end Chris Clemons #91 of the Seattle Seahawks in the first half during Super Bowl XLVIII at MetLife Stadium on February 2, 2014 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
In what was expected to be a heavyweight prize fight between the NFL's top-ranked offense and its top-ranked defense, the Seattle Seahawks won by knockout. Seattle harassed the Broncos into four turnovers, Russell Wilson threw for 206 yards and two touchdowns, and the Seahawks won their first Super Bowl in convincing fashion, 43-8, over the Broncos.
Seattle scored points on offense, defense and special teams as part of a thorough dissection of the Broncos. The 35-point margin of victory is tied for third-largest in Super Bowl history.
"They said that we wouldn't do it. That we weren't good enough to play against that offense. That offense was too much. Our corners made those guys look average today. Our whole team was just great today," defensive end Michael Bennett said.
Added safety Earl Thomas: "This was a dominant performance from top to bottom. That's what this team is all about."
Denver's running game was non-existent as the Broncos were held to just 27 yards on 14 carries. Peyton Manning had no answers to solve Seattle's punishing defense.
"We did everything we wanted to do," head coach Pete Carroll said. "They really didn't have many opportunities to get the momentum from the start of the football game."
The Broncos were out of sorts from their first snap of the game. Center Manny Ramirez fired a snap before Manning was set and the ball went into the end zone. Running back Knowshon Moreno recovered the loose ball but was touched down by defensive end Cliff Avril for a safety as Seattle took a quick 2-0 lead.
How quick? It was the fastest score in Super Bowl history at just 12 seconds. It surpassed the 14 seconds of Devin Hester's return of the opening kickoff of Super Bowl XLI between the Chicago Bears and Indianapolis Colts.
Kicker Steven Hauschka's 31-yard field goal on the ensuing possession gave Seattle an early 5-0 lead.
The Legion of Boom lived up to its billing early. Safety Kam Chancellor drilled WR Demaryius Thomas on Denver's first completion of the game. Thomas came on a crossing route and was immediately hammered to the turf for just a 2-yard gain. Seattle forced a three-and-out on the series and a punt.
"It set the tone and then everybody started getting hit," linebacker Bobby Wagner said of Chancellor's hit on Thomas. "They started dropping like flies."
Wilson led Seattle to more points on their second possession of the game, converting three third downs on the drive. A holding penalty on center Max Unger on first-and-goal from the 6-yard line pushed Seattle back and they settled for a 33-yard Hauschka field goal to take an 8-0 lead.
Chancellor came up big again on Denver's next possession. After a fumble by Moreno set the Broncos back for a third-and-7, Manning overthrew tight end Julius Thomas and the ball fell right into Chancellor's lap for an interception.
Seattle out-gained the Broncos 148-11 in the first quarter and held Denver to just seven offensive plays.
"We were just on it," Wagner said. "We knew their offense pretty well and we knew that we had a good key on the offense, so everything that they were doing we felt like we were a step ahead."
Running back Marshawn Lynch led Seattle into the end zone for the first time with a 1-yard touchdown run to extend the lead to 15-0 three minutes into the second quarter.
Denver finally put together a sustained drive before Seattle's defense struck again. The Broncos moved 59 yards on 15 plays before Avril hit Manning and knocked the ball skyward. Linebacker Malcolm Smith snared the fluttering pass out of the sky and raced 69 yards for a touchdown that gave the Seahawks a commanding lead.
The Broncos failed to convert a fouth-and-2 at the Seattle 19-yard line before halftime. The Seahawks took a 22-0 lead into the break and were set to receive the ball to open the second half.
That's when Percy Harvin made his biggest play of the season for Seattle.
Harvin took the opening kickoff of the second half on a bounce at the 13-yard line and tore through the Denver defense. He broke a tackle and raced 87 yards for a touchdown - his only touchdown in a season largely lost to injury - as Seattle delivered the dagger early.
"It means everything to me," Harvin said. "This team, the way they stood behind me. The way they backed me up all year. It means a lot to me."
Seattle forced another turnover when cornerback Byron Maxwell stripped the ball from the hands of Thomas. Smith recovered the fumble for the Seahawks' third turnovers of the game.
Smith earned Most Valuable Player honors for Seattle with nine tackles, a fumble recovery and interception returned for a touchdown. Smith is the ninth defensive player to earn the award in Super Bowl history.
Wilson connected with wide receiver Jermaine Kearse for a 23-yard touchdown as the Seahawks took a 36-0 lead.
Manning found Thomas for a 14-yard touchdown and wide receiver Wes Welker scored a two-point conversion to end the shutout opportunity for Seattle. But the offense answered again as Wilson hit wide receiver Doug Baldwin for a 10-yard touchdown to take a 43-8 advantage.
"That's the way we play football," Carroll said. "I'm thrilled that it came out like that so clearly, so obviously, but that's the way we put our stamp on the world championship."
Thomas and Manning each set records in the game in a losing effort. Manning's 34 completions and Thomas' 13 catches were both Super Bowl records. Manning finished the game 34 of 49 for 280 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions. Thomas had 118 yards and a touchdown for Denver.
NOTES: Seattle is the 19th NFL franchise to win a Super Bowl title. ... The Seahawks are the first team to score a safety, rushing touchdown, passing touchdown, kick return touchdown and interception return for a touchdown in the Super Bowl. ... Pete Carroll, 62, is the third-oldest coach to win a Super Bowl behind Tom Coughlin, 65, and Dick Vermeil, 63. ... Opening kickoff was 49-degrees, the third coldest Super Bowl in history. ... Malcolm Smith is the first defensive player to win Super Bowl MVP since Dexter Jackson took home the honors for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Super Bowl XXXVII. ... Russell Wilson is just the second African-American quarterback to win a Super Bowl, joining Doug Williams of the Washington Redskins. ... Super Bowl XLVIII was the first time any NFL game has ended with the score of 43-8.