Super Bowl XLVIII was billed as a showdown between the NFL's No. 1 offense against the No. 1 defense. In the end, it didn't turn out to be much of a contest.
Seattle's defense was stifling, swarming and opportune. The Seahawks applied near-constant pressure on Peyton Manning, forcing him into a pair of interceptions. In total, they forced the Broncos into four turnovers. Denver, who set an NFL record for scoring during the regular season, had its lowest scoring outing of the season.
The Broncos' opening play from scrimmage was a high snap that resulted in a safety -- a play that provided an accurate summation of their off-balance, mistake-prone performance.
Manning went 33-of-49 for 280 yards and one touchdown.
The game got off to a bizarre start, as a miscommunication led to Broncos center Manny Ramirez snapping the ball over Manning's head for a safety on the first play from scrimmage. Denver was able to fall on the ball in the end zone to prevent a Seattle touchdown, but fell in an early 2-0 hole.
The Seahawks responded with back-to-back field goal drives to build their lead to 8-0. Their first drive was sparked by a 30-yard run on a reverse by Percy Harvin, who played a major role in the game. Harvin, whose offseason hip surgery had limited him to just 33 touches coming into the Super Bowl, also delivered a staggering blow coming out of halftime when he ran the opening kickoff of the third quarter back for an 87-yard touchdown.
It would only get worse for the Denver offense in the first half. With just over two minutes remaining in the first quarter, Manning floated a pass intended for Demaryius Thomas that sailed into the arms of Seattle safety Kam Chancellor. The play led directly to the first touchdown of the game, as Marshawn Lynch would cap the ensuing drive with a one-yard score to put the Seahawks up 15-0.
It was the only significant play of the game for Lynch, who ran for 39 yards on 15 carries. With the defense dominating, he wasn't really needed. Neither was Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson, who went 18-of-25 for 206 yards and two touchdowns.
Denver finally found some rhythm early in the second quarter, driving down into Seattle territory. But on 3rd-and-13 from the 35-yard line, Manning's pass was deflected high into the air and picked off by Malcolm Smith, who raced 69 yards for the pick-six to send Seattle into halftime with a shocking 22-0 lead.
Every time the Broncos seemed to gain a bit of momentum, a self-inflicted mistake would destroy their momentum. After Manning connected with Thomas for a rare first down in the third quarter, the wideout had the ball punched out and the fumble was recovered by Seattle. Shortly after, Wilson found Jermaine Kearse for a 23-yard touchdown to go up 36-0.
Thomas finally got the Broncos on the board late in the third quarter when he elevated to haul in a 14-yard touchdown pass from Manning. Wes Welker converted the two-point conversion, but that still left Denver in a 28-point hole heading into the fourth quarter. Thomas set an NFL record with 13 receptions.
Seattle piled on early in the fourth quarter when Russell found Doug Baldwin for a 10-yard touchdown.