EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Seattle 1, World 0.
For the Northwest sports fan, aggrieved after more than a third of century of mediocrity, team departures and close-but-zippo shots at championships, the drama Sunday unfolded in an unexpected way: Quick, savage and relentless. That never happens in Seattle sports, which for so long have greeted the threat of success with something like, "You go ahead. We'll be fine."
If you're into sports numerology, Seattle scored 12 seconds into the first half, and 12 seconds into the second half. For the long-suffering 12s, the symbolism goes beyond coincidence.
For the Seahawks players, the drama unfolded in a different way: It was exactly as they planned. That happened almost all the time with this team this season.
"To be honest with you, a lot of the players on this team expected this to be a dominant win," said WR Doug Baldwin. "I say that with no disrespect to the Broncos. They probably thought that, too; that's how you get to a championship game.
"But the way we were prepared the last two weeks, there was no doubt in my mind. You saw us dominate defensively, force the pace on the ground, then make plays in passing game."
They knew they would shred the Broncos. It was possible to sense some of it this week around the team. They were so calm, so certain. While the world blinked and stared in amazement at the MetLife Stadium scoreboard that read "Seahawks 43, Broncos 8," the Seahawks walked onto the biggest stage in the media and sports world as if they owned it, down to the last row of klieg lights.
"It was not even a question in their minds," said coach Pete Carroll, "that we wouldn't perform like this."
They set a Super Bowl record for the fastest score. They set a Super Bowl record with 36 consecutive points to start a game (the old mark was 24). They were the second youngest team to play in a Super Bowl. And they brought thousands of believers from around the world, overwhelming the Broncos fans, to screw up the opponent in New Jersey as if it were a suburb of Seattle.
On the first play, Denver center Manny Ramirez (apparently no relation) snapped the ball past quarterback Peyton Manning into the end zone for a safety. It seemed as if the Seahawks defense lined up and said, "Boo!"
"It was real loud — none of us heard the snap count," a bewildered Ramirez said. "I thought I did, and when I snapped the ball, I guess Peyton was actually trying to walk up to me at the time. It kind of put us on a back end right off the bat."
It kind of did. After 2-0, it was 5-0, then 8-0 and 15-0 before the Broncos finally got a first down five minutes into the second quarter. And this was the most prolific single-season offense in the history of the NFL.
Turned out they were fakes. Frauds. Manning couldn't throw a lick downfield and his receivers couldn't take a lick.
On the Broncos' second series, heralded receiver Demaryius Thomas caught a short crossing pass over the middle only to be clobbered back four yards by the chief boomer in the Legion of Boom, Kam Chancellor.
"We saw on film that they did most of their damage on yards after catch," Chancellor said. "We knew they were going to catch the ball, and we wanted them to know right away they had to deal with us."
The Broncos also had to deal with Percy Harvin right away. On the second scrimmage play, the Seahawks ran a fly sweep play for Harvin that went for 30 yards after the blockers cleared most of New Jersey from his path. They had used the play only one other time this season, but like the Chancellor hit, they went with it early and hard to shock the Broncos into submission.
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