East Rutherford, United States: With a fierce defence that forced four turnovers, the Seattle Seahawks soared to a first NFL title on Sunday with a 43-8 rout of the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl 48.
Seattle’s Russell Wilson threw two touchdown passes while linebacker Malcolm Smith returned an interception for a touchdown and recovered a fumble to set up another.
“It’s just a tremendous feeling,” Smith said. “We just have a great group of guys who feed off each other, guys with chips on their shoulder who have been overlooked.”
That Seahawks defensive unit, which led the NFL in fewest points allowed and most turnovers forced, shut down a Broncos offence that scored the most points in a season in NFL history and humbled quarterback Peyton Manning, who set one-season records for passing yardage and touchdowns.
“We’re a bunch of misfits in some ways, a lot of guys people haven’t heard of,” said Seattle defensive back and NFL interceptions leader Richard Sherman. “But I think they learned how complete our defence is.”
The Seahawks, owned by Microsoft co-founding billionaire Paul Allen, lost to Pittsburgh in 2006 in their only prior Super Bowl visit.
“The people who say defence wins championships can gloat for a little while because it sure did tonight,” Seattle coach Pete Carroll said.
Seattle scored the most points by a Super Bowl team since Tampa Bay had 48 in a 2003 victory over Oakland and won by the most lopsided margin since Dallas defeated Buffalo 52-17 in 1993.
Smith won Most Valuable Player honours, one of the few defenders to capture the award.
“I always imagined I would play well at the Super Bowl, but I never imagined I would be the MVP,” Smith said.
Denver suffered a record fifth Super Bowl defeat, but the team’s first since 1990. The Broncos had won their two most recent trips to the title game in 1998 and 1999.
“It was a disappointment for our entire team,” Manning said. “To finish this way is very disappointing. It’s not an easy pill to swallow but eventually we have to.”
Manning completed a Super Bowl-record 34 passes in 49 attempts for 280 yards while Demaryius Thomas had a Super Bowl-record 13 catches for 118 yards, but both were hollow achievements.
Smith picked off Manning and scored with 3:21 remaining in the second quarter to give the Seahawks a 22-0 half-time edge.
Smith’s touchdown was the longest interception runback in a Super Bowl since Manning had a 74-yard pickoff returned for a touchdown by New Orleans defender Tracy Porter in 2010 to seal a loss for Manning’s former team, the Indianapolis Colts.
Seattle’s Percy Harvin, who missed most of the season after hip surgery, returned the opening kick-off of the third quarter 87 yards for a touchdown for a 29-0 Seahawks lead.
The Broncos then surrendered their third turnover when Byron Maxwell knocked the ball from the grasp of Thomas and Smith recovered.
Seattle took advantage of the turnover when Wilson flipped a 23-yard touchdown pass to Jermaine Kearse for a 36-0 lead.
Denver avoided becoming the first team in Super Bowl history to go scoreless when Manning threw a 14-yard touchdown pass to Thomas and flipped a two-point conversion pass to Wes Welker on the last play of the third quarter.
Wilson answered on a 10-yard touchdown pass to Doug Baldwin for the final points before the clock ran out and Seattle’s confetti-filled celebration began.
Denver received the opening kick-off but it was Seattle that got points from the fastest scoring play in Super Bowl history.
Broncos centre Manny Ramirez snapped the ball over Manning’s head from the 14-yard line and into the end zone, where rusher Knowshon Moreno fell upon it and was tackled for a safety, giving the Seahawks a 2-0 lead after only 12 seconds.
Seattle then marched 51 yards in nine plays to set up a 31-yard field goal by Steven Hauschka, who added another from 33 yards for an 8-0 Seahawks edge.
Seattle safety Kam Chancellor intercepted a Manning pass at the Denver 39 to halt the Broncos’ next possession.
Aided by a crucial third-down pass interference penalty against Denver cornerback Tony Carter, Seattle took a 15-0 lead on Marshawn Lynch’s one-yard touchdown run.
The Broncos drove to the Seahawks’ 19-yard line late in the first half but Seattle’s Chris Clemons deflected a fourth-down pass by Manning to halt Denver’s best early threat.
The kick-off temperature of 49 degrees (9.4 Celsius) was 10 degrees warmer than the coldest-ever Super Bowl from 1972 in New Orleans, a far cry from fears of bitter cold and snow at the first outdoor Super Bowl in a cold-weather city.