EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J.
It was the sound of a legend crashing to the ground.
It was the sound Seattle safety Kam Chancellor made when he crashed into a receiver on the Broncos' third play from scrimmage.
It was the sound of defensive lineman Cliff Avril as he slammed into Denver quarterback Peyton Manning and forced an interception.
Time and again, this was how it sounded as a young team claimed a Super Bowl title of its own Sunday night. The Seahawks' swarming, attacking defense — led by the "Legion of Boom" secondary — pounded and confounded the Broncos. In the end, the greatest sound of them all came rolling in from the Great Northwest, from the land of rain and coffee, where today, they ask this question:
The Seahawks left dents in the Broncos.
They made Denver look slow and Manning look old, and in the end, they won a remarkably easy championship, 43-8.
Remember, this Denver offense was supposed to be something to behold. The Broncos rolled up a league-record 606 points, and Manning threw a record 55 touchdowns, and on most days, the Broncos looked almost unstoppable. Sure, the Seahawks had the top-ranked defense in the league, but the thinking was that would barely be a speed bump for Manning.
For many, this was supposed to be Manning's coronation. Why, if he won this Super Bowl, you might as well suggest he was as good as anyone who had ever played the game, right?
It didn't happen that way. The Denver receivers had no room, and the running backs had no daylight (27 yards rushing), and the offensive line spent much of the night being pushed back on its heels. The Seahawks shut out the Broncos for 45 minutes, and in the end, they rolled Denver so completely, it brought back memories of the team's 55-10 loss to the 49ers in Super Bowl XXIV.
"The Legion of Boom, baby," said cornerback Richard Sherman. "I hope we etched our names into 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."
As for Manning, he had a terrible time of it. The first snap of the game sailed over his shoulder, and his fourth pass of the night was intercepted, and his 15th was intercepted and returned for a touchdown. By halftime, his quarterback rating was 46.3, and Manning was on his way to one of those miserable postseason performances that he seems to turn in every now and then.
There will be those who beat up Manning because of this. The Broncos were crushed, but in memory, this will be treated as Manning's personal shortcoming. Until he wins a second one of these, there will be those who suspect something is lacking in Manning. This time, however, Manning never really had a chance. The Seahawks were quicker, tougher, and at any given time, there seemed to be about 18 of them playing defense at the same time.
"It's all about making history," said safety Earl Thomas. "This was a dominant performance from top to bottom. You had guys who stepped up who you wouldn't even think would step up."
Oh, maybe we all should have seen it coming. Sherman talked last week about the ducks Manning throws these days. Linebacker Bobby Wagner suggested Denver hadn't seen a defense like this one.
This season, the Seahawks were the best defense in the league … by a lot. They have a deep defensive line, and mobile linebackers, and a smothering secondary. It has been some time since the Super Bowl has seen a defense such as this one.
This one will go down with the great Super Bowl defenses, with the Bears of 1985 and the Bucs of 2002 and the Ravens of 2000, with the Steelers of 1978 and the Giants of 1990 and the Dolphins of 1973, with the 49ers of 1984 and the Packers of 1966 and the Cowboys of 1977. Most of those teams found a way to shut down great offenses on their way to the title, too.
"One hundred years from now," Wagner said, "you all are going to remember this team."
Oh, the Seahawks are not legendary. Not yet. The country knows about Sherman because he makes a lot of noise. But Wagner? Chancellor? Thomas? Linebacker Malcolm Smith, the game MVP? They are at the arrival stage of their careers.
Do you know the best thing about this defense? It seems to embrace the chip on its collective shoulder.
Chancellor was supposed to be too slow to play safety when he came into the league, and Sherman was supposed to be too stiff, and Thomas was supposed to be too short, and defensive end Michael Bennett wasn't big enough and so forth. There are late-round draft picks and free agents, a collection of misfits — Thomas' word — who play with a slightly annoyed attitude that no one seems to realize just how much talent it has.
In that way, this defense is much like the city itself. Sports in Seattle haven't exactly been wonderful, you know. The town lost its first baseball franchise to Milwaukee, and it lost its basketball franchise to Oklahoma City. It has been 35 years since the Sonics won the city's only major sports title.
In the meantime, there have been a couple of WNBA titles and a couple of U.S. Open Cups in soccer. But the Mariners have never made it to the World Series. Until Sunday night, the Seahawks had never won the Super Bowl.
Now, there is this wonderful team for the 12th Man to celebrate, and especially, this magnificent defense.
Boom team. Boomtown.