Orange Crushed: Seahawks dominate Super Bowl XLVIII
One of them had to be the team of destiny.
Still, just like with the botched snap that Peyton Manning wasn't expecting on Denver's first offensive play, not many saw coming the Seattle Seahawks' total dismantling of the Broncos and their NFL record-setting quarterback.
Seattle's defense and special teams took the heart and explosiveness out of the Broncos, and then the Seahawks offense joined the party in a 43-8 rout Sunday at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.
Was that Super Bowl XLVIII or Super Bowl I? Seattle-Denver was a mismatch of Green Bay-Kansas City first world championship game proportions.
"We ran into a buzz saw," Denver coach John Fox said.
The Seahawks harassed Manning into two costly interceptions and numerous weak or ineffective short throws. Seattle's No. 1-rated defense kept Denver's vaunted offense under wraps, and the rest came easily as Seattle and owner Paul Allen won the city's first Super Bowl title.
"We are the best defense ever," Seattle defensive end Michael Bennett said. "I don't even know how the NFL let all of us guys get on the same team."
The Seahawks took a 2-0 lead when Denver snapped the ball the ball into its end zone seconds into the game. It was the first of several mistakes on an inept night for the AFC champions.
Steven Hauschka kicked field goals of 31 and 33 yards later in the first quarter, and NFC champ Seattle led 8-0.
In the second quarter, Kim Chancellor's interception gave Seattle the ball at the Denver 37, and the Seahawks capitalized for their first touchdown.
Denver then drove to the Seattle 32, but linebacker Malcolm Smith, a former USC Trojan, gave ex-USC coach and current Seahawks coach Pete Carroll a commanding 22-0 halftime lead with a 69-yard pick-6 of Manning.
Just about any hope Denver had ran out in the first 12 seconds of the second half. That's how long it took Seattle's often-injured but suddenly spry again receiver Percy Harvin to run back the kickoff 87 yards for a touchdown and a 29-0 bulge.
Seattle QB Russell Wilson added a 23-yard touchdown pass to Jermaine Kearse, and the Hawks had a 36-0 laugher.
Denver finally got a score, against a near-prevent Seahawks defense, with Manning finding Demaryius Thomas from 14 yards on the final play of the third quarter.
The Seahawks stayed dominant, though, and punched in the game's final TD when Wilson hooked up with Doug Baldwin for a 10-yard score.
After the victory, Baldwin used his platform to criticize certain football analysts, notably Hall of Fame receiver Cris Carter of ESPN, who had characterized the Seattle wideout corps as nothing special.
"You need to go back and not do it half-ass and put some effort into it because you're saying some stuff that didn't really make sense," Baldwin said.
Wilson finished 18 of 25 passing for 206 yards and two touchdowns, with no interceptions.
Manning was a labored 34 of 49 for 280 yards.
Neither team ran particularly well not that Seattle needed to. Seahawks star back Marshawn Lynch was held to 39 yards on 15 carries, with a 1-yard TD run in the second quarter. Knowshon Moreno, Denver's top rusher, managed 17 yards on five attempts.
"We played a great football team," Manning said. "We needed to play really well in order to win and we didn't come anywhere close to that."
Smith was the MVP only two other linebackers have won the honor, Dallas' Chuck Howley in Super Bowl V and Baltimore's Ray Lewis in Super Bowl XXXV.
"We finished business," Chancellor said.
Not quite there is the little matter of a victory parade on Wednesday in downtown Seattle.