All week long, the Seahawks shut their beaks. Cornerback Richard Sherman was called the mouth that bored. Normally, the son of a garbage truck driver talks trash, but he showed nothing but respect for legendary Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning and the most prolific offense in NFL history. Then the Seahawks and their No. 1 defense showed America what all the crowing was about. They swarmed like they were playing with a 12th man. They beat receivers to the football. They buried Manning, the league's five-time most valuable player, in an avalanche of pass rushers.
And just for the heck of it, they forced four turnovers and scored twice.
So today, the Seahawks are the talk of every town.
Seattle intercepted Manning twice, including a deflected pass that linebacker Malcolm Smith returned 69 yards for a touchdown to beat the Broncos 43-8 Sunday in Super Bowl XLVIII before 82,529 at Metlife Stadium. Smith, in his third season after being a seventh-round pick out of USC, also recovered a fumble and was named the game's MVP.
"We loved hearing a lot about Denver's offense," linebacker Bobby Wagner said. "Because after the game, we felt we would hear a lot about Seattle's defense."
The Seahawks, who won their first NFL title, did not have a player with any Super Bowl experience. But it was the Broncos that looked unnerved to start the game. Manning was pressured frequently by defensive ends Cliff Avril and Chris Clemons, discombobulating the passing game in the first half as Seattle built a 22-0 lead.
It was over when former Florida star Percy Harvin, who missed nearly the entire season with a hip injury then concussion symptoms, returned the second half popup kickoff 87 yards for a touchdown to make it 29-0. Incredibly, the Seahawks scored 12 seconds into both halves.
On the game's first offensive play, Broncos center Manny Ramirez snapped the ball over the right shoulder of an unsuspecting Manning and running back Knowshon Moreno recovered it in the end zone for a safety and a 2-0 lead 12 seconds into the game. It was the quickest score in Super Bowl history.
Manning, 37, was trying to become the first quarterback to win a Super Bowl for two different teams. Having battled back from four neck surgeries that forced him to miss all of 2011, Manning had the greatest passing year ever this season, throwing for an NFL record 5,477 yards and 55 touchdowns.
Lifting another Lombardi Trophy — he won his first with the Colts in Super Bowl XLI over the Bears, then lost to the Saints in XLIV — would have elevated his status among the all-time greats.
Instead, Manning provided his detractors with plenty of ammunition as his postseason record fell to 11-12.
"I think we played a great football team," said Manning, who was 34-of-49 for 280 yards, a touchdown and two INTs. "We needed to play really well in order to win, and we didn't come anywhere close to that. We weren't sharp offensively from the get-go. The turnover on the first play of the game to give them a safety is not the way you want to start the game. For whatever reason, we couldn't get much going after that."
The Broncos didn't score until the final play of the third quarter when Manning hit Demaryius Thomas for a 14-yard touchdown, followed by a conversion toss to Wes Welker.
"I would've liked for us to play better," Broncos coach John Fox said. "I feel bad for our fans and our owner and all the fans that made the trip out here."
While Manning couldn't add to his legacy, second-year Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson began building a resume of his own. He went 18-of-25 passing for 206 yards and two touchdowns.
But all that was left to answer as the confetti fell was where does this Seahawks defense — featuring a secondary full of All-Pros known as the "Legion of Boom" — rank among the all-time greats? Are they peers with the 1985 Chicago Bears? Can they hold their own with the 2000 Ravens and '02 Bucs?
It gives the Seahawks something else to talk about.
"The Legion of Boom, baby," said Sherman, who left the game in the fourth quarter with a high right-ankle sprain. "I hope we etched our names in the history books. This is the No. 1 offense in the history of the NFL, and we were able to play a good game against them. Peyton Manning may go down as one of the greatest to ever play the game, and we're just blessed to have an opportunity to play against him. I can't believe it."