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The Super Bowl was supposed to pit the best offense in pro football against the best defense. Turned out the dominant offense and defense were both on the same team. The final score was Seattle 43, Denver 8.
NPR's Mike Pesca reports on the game that was played between last night's commercials.
MIKE PESCA, BYLINE: Here's a theory. Denver doesn't understand the concept of the point spread. Word was out that they were minus two versus the Seahawks. So on the first snap of the game they did this.
(SOUNDBITE OF FOX SPORTS BROADCAST)
JOE BUCK: It's snapped over the head of Peyton Manning.
PESCA: That safety, as described by Fox's Joe Buck, put the Broncos down two and was the start of a disastrous night for a Denver offense that had scored more points than any other team in NFL history. As it happened, last night they became only the second Super Bowl team in the last 30 years not to reach double digits. Though after falling behind by 15 points, Denver's Peyton Manning executed a series of crisp passes into Seahawks territory. But on the 16th play of the drive, defensive end Cliff Avril penetrated, and he later describes what happened next
CLIFF AVRIL: Well, for me it was, you know, I was trying to get a sack fumble. You know, trying to get that every week. And you know, he had a lot on it, so it went past the line of scrimmage and Malcolm caught the ball. And I looked back, you know, I ended up blocking Peyton on the play, actually.
PESCA: The Malcolm is Malcolm Smith, who picks up the description of the play.
MALCOLM SMITH: Cliff got his hand on the quarterback and the ball just kind of came out high. I was able to run underneath it. I was breaking on the running back and I went up and caught it. And got good blocks from my teammates and we just partied in the end zone.
PESCA: Smith will be partying while clutching the MVP trophy.
Seattle simply shutdown Peyton Manning, a player who - up to this point - had been able to diagnose and take advantages of the weakness of every defense he faced. After the game, cornerback Richard Sherman said his Seahawks didn't actually outthink Peyton to win the mental game, they just didn't have many weaknesses to exploit.
RICHARD SHERMAN: A lot of times guys get too infatuated with - with trying to change things, trying to disguise and try and play his game. And we're a simple defense. We run a simple scheme. You know we're going to run. We're not going to disguise anything. And we're just going to try to execute. And today we were able to do that
PESCA: Due to his play, Manning enters the realm of the one-offs, because he's one out of three in Super Bowl, and he's realistically one of the best quarterbacks ever. But with a dominant win last night, he would have been able to make a strong case as the greatest.
Denver coach John Fox was asked what he would tell a someone who would judge Manning's accomplishment based on last night's game.
JOHN FOX: Ludicrous will be maybe the proper English.
PESCA: But Manning acknowledged that the loss stung.
PEYTON MANNING: I don't know if you ever really get over it. It's a difficult pill to swallow. I think you have to find a way to deal with it and process it, and like I said, if you can to try to fuel it to make you a better team next year.
PESCA: It's hard to believe that the Broncos offense can be any better. This was the highest scoring team in the history of football, so what does that make the Seattle defense? What does it say about Seattle overall, which forced four turnovers, gave up none, and scored on offense, defense and special teams?
The legacy talk descended on the 37-year-old quarterback. But it would not be ludicrous to wonder about legacies with the Seahawks, who with an average age of 26.4 are actually the youngest team ever to win the Super Bowl. But legacies are subjective, the Vince Lombardi Trophy is tangible, and for the first time ever it will reside in Seattle
Mike Pesca, NPR News, New York. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.