Seattle Seahawks cruise in Super Bowl XLVIII
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Defense still, in fact, wins championships — even against arguably the best quarterback of all time in inarguably the best season ever by a quarterback.
Peyton Manning owns the regular season. But he was no match for Malcolm Smith and the Seahawks’ unrelenting defense when it mattered most.
Smith, Seattle’s anonymous linebacker, returned an interception for a touchdown and also recovered a fumble to spur the swaggering Seahawks’ 43-8 beat down of the Broncos in Super Bowl 48.
Smith was awarded the Super Bowl MVP award, becoming just the third linebacker to win that honor.
“I’m just here to represent the defense. … [Sunday night] was my turn, and I’m here, but it’s definitely on behalf of them,” Smith said.
And because of them, the Seahawks are champions for the first time after 37 years of futility. As for the Broncos, it was the latest chapter in a largely fruitless history.
The Broncos have now lost in the Super Bowl five times — more than any other franchise.
And like two of those previous losses, this one was humiliating.
Their 35-point drubbing will join 42-10 and 55-10 in the annals of all-time title-game skunk jobs.
As for Manning, he had hoped to cement his legacy and become the first quarterback to win a Super Bowl with two teams. Instead, his more malicious critics, who believe his Super Bowl XLVIII title was the exception and not the rule, will have fresh fodder.
It was clear from literally the opening snap that Denver, which prides itself on preparation, was out to lunch. While going through his presnap protection calls, Manning fooled his center, Manny Ramirez.
The shotgun exchange came before Manning was ready, went over his head, rolled backward some 15 yards and resulted in a safety. The play came just 12 seconds into the game, making it the quickest score in the Super Bowl’s nearly five decades.
And, ironically, it was only the eighth- or ninth-worst thing to go wrong for the Broncos on the night.
Smith, the 24-year-old linebacker who played for Seahawks coach Pete Carroll at USC, was a major reason why.
With the MVP award, Smith now has one up on his brother Steve Smith, the receiver who won a title with the Giants six years ago.
Russell Wilson becomes just the second black quarterback to win the Super Bowl.
Wilson completed 18 of 25 passes for 206 yards and two touchdowns, becoming the first quarterback of the heralded class of 2012 to raise the Lombardi Trophy.
“The thing you want to do at the end of the season is play your best football,” Wilson said. “We did that.”
Many believed Carroll could never win at this level after failing with the Jets and the Patriots.
Now he’s just the third coach to ever win both a college football national title and a Super Bowl title.
“This is an amazing team,” Carroll said. “These guys started a long time ago. It took four years to get to this point. We never took a step sideways or backwards. These guys would not take anything but winning this ball game.”