The Seattle Seahawks weren’t about to let Peyton Manning’s legacy stand in their way of a first Super Bowl win.
Malcolm Smith returned an interception for a 69-yard touchdown return and Percy Harvin returned a kickoff 87 yards for another score to lead the Seahawks to a 43-8 rout of the Broncos Sunday in Super Bowl XLVIII at East Rutherford, N.J.
It is the first Super Bowl win for the Seahawks, who joined the National Football League as an expansion team in 1976.
John Elway, who quarterbacked the Broncos to their only two Super Bowl triumphs in 1997 and 1998, was hoping to bring the Super Bowl back to Denver when he signed Manning prior to the start of the 2012 season after the Indianapolis Colts released him.
Manning, who earned his fifth MVP award this season after setting NFL records in passing yards (5,477 yards) and touchdown passes (55), was trying to earn his second Super Bowl ring at age 37.
But it wasn’t meant to be.
Manning was 34-of-49 for 280 yards. He threw two interceptions and one touchdown pass. Wilson was 18-of-25 for 206 passing yards and two touchdown passes.
Denver, which set the single season record for most points scored, was down 22-0 at halftime and 36-8 after three quarters.
It took Seattle only seven seconds to take a lead. On the first play from scrimmage, Denver center Manny Ramirez prematurely snapped the ball to Manning, who wasn’t in position to accept it. The ball bounced into the end zone, where Denver running back Knowshon Moreno was tackled for a safety after recovering the ball.
Seattle gradually built the lead to 8-0 at the end of the first quarter behind two field goals from Steven Hauschka, covering 31 and 51 yards respectively.
At that point in the game, Manning had only four snaps from scrimmage and the greatest scoring team in NFL history was held to eight yards.
Seattle was back in business when safety Kam Chancellor intercepted Manning in Denver territory. A pass interference call in the end zone by cornerback Tony Carter of Denver set up a one-yard touchdown plunge by Marshawn Lynch for a 15-0 lead.
The game took a turn for the worse for Manning before halftime. Defensive end Cliff Avril pushed tackle Orlando Franklin into Manning, forcing the quarterback to misfire his throw. Smith picked off the pass and took it to the house 69 yards for a commanding 22-0 lead.
Any chance Denver thought it had of pulling off a miraculous comeback went out the window when Harvin returned the opening second half kickoff back 87 yards for a 29-0 bulge. Harvin caught the kickoff on a hop, eluded a slew of Broncos and weaved his way past four more would-be tacklers for the touchdown.
Finally. Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson, who quietly did his job of managing the game, made some noise late in the third quarter. He found Jermaine Kearse for a 23-yard touchdown pass, capping a 58-yard, six play drive for a 36-0 lead.
With three seconds left in the third quarter, Denver finally scored when Demaryius Thomas collected a 14-yard pass from Manning. Wes Welker caught a two-point conversion.
But Seattle coach Pete Carroll and his players didn’t take their foot off the pedal. The lead went to 43-8 when Doug Baldwin caught a 10-yard TD pass from Wilson. Seattle’s defense held Denver to 18 rushing yards on 12 carries.
The lone bright star for Denver was Demaryius Thomas with 13 catches for 118 yards. Welker had eight receptions for 84 yards.