The Denver Broncos made their seventh Super Bowl appearance on Feb. 2. However, the Broncos' Super Bowl history can be divided into two periods -- the blowout losses of the 1980s, and the triumphs of the late 1990s. Yet this third period of Denver Super Bowl history harkened back to the first, as Peyton Manning was shocked and beaten almost as much as John Elway was in the 80s, in a 43-8 loss to the Seattle Seahawks.
The tone was set when crowd noise and miscommunication with center Manny Ramirez resulted in the first snap of the game flying right past Manning, causing a safety. After the Seahawks drove for a subsequent field goal, the Broncos went three-and-out and then gave up another field goal. However, Denver was still down by a manageable 8-0.
Manning began to make it less than manageable after throwing an interception to Kam Chancellor, which the Seahawks took advantage of for their first touchdown. The most prolific offense of all time was down 15-0 and hadn't gotten one first down after 15+ minutes, yet the Broncos converted several third downs on their next drive to get into field goal range.
The last third down of the drive was the Super Bowl clinching dagger, for all intents and purposes. Manning's second interception went into eventual MVP Malcolm Smith's hands, with his legs carrying him 69 yards into the opposing end zone. Once the Broncos drove down again and were stopped on fourth down in the red zone, the first half mercifully ended with a 22-0 deficit -- which became 29-0 when Percy Harvin ran untouched into the end zone on the second half kickoff.
Manning and the Broncos were stalled short of field goal range on the next drive, with coach John Fox throwing in the towel by calling a punt. Yet the Super Bowl went on for another 20+ minutes, as the Seahawks still increased the lead to 43-8 by the time it was all over.
Elway's 55-10 defeat to the San Francisco 49ers in 1989 remains as the worst Super Bowl loss of all time. Of course, if the first quarter went any worse for the Broncos, they might have surpassed their predecessors from 25 years ago. That was the only break Manning and Denver got in their blast from championship failures past.