EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Denver Broncos guard Manny Ramirez admitted his disastrous mix-up with Peyton Manning on the opening play of Super Bowl XLVIII had set the tone for his team's blowout 43-8 defeat to the Seattle Seahawks.
Ramirez snapped the ball over Manning's head and beyond his reach, leading to a safety after just 12 seconds that instantly put the Broncos on the back foot in what would become an embarrassing rout.
"You never wish for anything like that to happen but it did," Ramirez said. "It kind of put us on the back end right off the bat. In games you have your ups and downs but we weren't able to overcome them. One after another they kept on happening and we were not able to recover at all."
The play was the quickest score in Super Bowl history, beating the 14-second kickoff return from the Chicago Bears' Devin Hester to start Super Bowl XLI.
Seattle never let its advantage slip and harassed Manning and Denver's No. 1-ranked offense all night, with the Broncos' only scoring drive coming at the end of the third quarter.
Manning insisted the noise inside MetLife Stadium had caused the confusion that led to the nightmarish first play that set in motion the Broncos' night of misery.
"It was just a noise issue that really caused that play to happen," he said. "The first play was a cadence issue. We were using the snap count on the play and due to the noise, no one could hear me. As I was walking up to the line of scrimmage to make a change and try to get us on the same page, then the ball was snapped. Really it is just an overall … nobody's fault."
Wide receiver Wes Welker conceded that the Broncos had struggled to come to terms with their slow start, after which Seattle converted a Steven Hauschka field goal to lead 5-0 before streaking away.
"It is never the way you want to start a game, that's for sure," Welker said. "It is tough but you have to bounce back from it and we just never rebounded."
The infamous first play prompted Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban to jokingly tweet that he had won $20 million by placing a bet on a safety to start the game. However, there were bettors fortunate enough to have made a real wager on the first scoring play being a safety, at odds of up to 50:1.
Despite Manning's disastrous night that included three turnovers, his colleagues rallied around him and refused to lay the blame for the defeat upon him.
"All year Peyton has taken care of business for us and we have to be there for him as well," Ramirez added. "We were not able to come up with any kind of offense, we just have to give credit where it is due to the Seahawks."
Manning won the NFL MVP award for a record fifth time on Saturday night and led the Broncos to a 13-3 record in the regular season, but was unable to add a second ring to the title he won with the Indianapolis Colts following the 2006 season.
Asked whether Manning was to blame for the loss, Broncos tight end Julius Thomas delivered a defiant response.
"Absolutely not," Thomas said. "In order to point the finger at Peyton you would be neglecting all the things he did this season to get us to this point.
"By no means are we blaming Peyton for anything. He is reason we are here, he is our leader, and we are going to stand by him 100 percent."
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