They say offense may win games, but defense wins championships. That old adage more than held true during Super Bowl 48.
After pinning Denver inside their 20, Seattle struck first without having to even touch the ball. Miscommunication between Denver quarterback Peyton Manning and center Manny Ramirez led to the latter snapping the ball over Manning’s head and into the end zone for a safety.
The 12 seconds that the aforementioned play took set a new Super Bowl record for fastest score.
“It happened so fast,” said Seattle coach Pete Carroll after the game. “It was unfortunate for them as they got started. We had nothing to do with it.”
The defense however, did have plenty to do with dictating the rest of the contest.
Lead by eventual MVP Malcolm Smith (who said the award should have been shared by the entire defense), the Seahawks defense proved as stingy, physical and opportunistic as their reputation would suggest.
Smith returned Manning's first of two interceptions 69-yards for a touchdown; and further contributed with five tackles, four assists and a fumble recovery.. He becomes the first defensive player to be named MVP since 2003.
The Seattle defense forced the Broncos to commit four turnovers and were able to keep their offense out of rhythm; holding Denver to a season low eight points.
“They were relentless,” said Broncos Executive Vice President of Football Operations John Elway. “They smelled blood and stayed after it. We made some mistakes, but you’ve got to give them a lot of credit too.”
While their offense was not spectacular in terms of yardage, they proved more than proficient; capitalizing on many of the Broncos’ frequent mistakes. Doug Baldwin, Marshawn Lynch and Jermaine Kearse were all able to find the end zone.
The pivotal play however, may have come on special teams.
After missing the NFC Championship, Percy Harvin was extremely effective despite limited snaps; returning the second half kickoff for a touchdown and leading the team in rushing with 45 yards on just two carries.
“The playmaking ability he has is second to none,” said Baldwin. “When he touches the ball, he is electrifying.”
As the 43-8 score would suggest, this game was never close. With some contribution from seemingly everybody on the roster (plus a strong showing from the 12th man), Seattle was in control from start to finish.
“There was no doubt in our minds that we were gonna come out there and play Seattle Seahawks football, and you saw that,” continued Baldwin.
“You saw us dominate defensively. You saw us dictate the pace of the game with the ground game. You saw us make plays in the passing game when we had our opportunities to do so; and that’s what Seahawks football is all about.”
The loss marks the NFL record fifth time Denver has fallen short in the Super Bowl, while the 35-point margin ranks third all-time.