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Super Bowl: Seahawks cruise toward title

The SportsXchange

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- In the second half of Super Bowl XLVIII, the highest-scoring offense of all time was playing mostly for pride.

The Denver Broncos scored a touchdown on the final play of the third quarter, but that merely prevented the first shutout in Super Bowl history. The Seattle Seahawks previously cruised to a 36-0 lead, and they held a 36-8 margin heading to the fourth quarter at MetLife Stadium.

Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning completed a 14-yard touchdown pass to Demaryius Thomas, and Manning tacked on a two-point conversion pass to wide receiver Wes Welker.

Scoring on the first play of the game and adding touchdowns on special teams, offense and defense, the Seahawks diffused Denver's record-setting offense with two interceptions, smothered Manning and took a 29-0 lead just 12 seconds into the third quarter.

Percy Harvin fielded the second half kickoff on a bounce and picked up two blocks while running to his left for an 87-yard touchdown, increasing the Seahawks' lead to 29-0.

Cornerback Byron Maxwell punched the ball out of Thomas' hands for the Seahawks' third takeaway in the game -- and 46th this season -- with 5:55 to play in the third quarter. Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson needed only six plays to lead his team 58 yards, finding wide receiver Jermaine Kearse for a 23-yard touchdown reception and a suffocating 36-0 advantage.

Manning was intercepted twice in the first half after the game began with a safety. Center Manny Ramirez snapped the ball from Denver's 14-yard line to the right of an unsuspecting Manning -- the quarterback took a step to his left to give instructions to his left tackle -- and running back Knowshon Moreno recovered the loose ball in the end zone. The score was the fastest in Super Bowl history -- 12 seconds into the game.

Denver spun its wheels as Seattle's speed and physical play rocked the Broncos back on their heels.

The Broncos' seven offensive snaps in the first quarter resulted in a safety, interception and 11 total yards.

At the end of a Denver season defined by explosive plays and an NFL-record 606 points, Manning was antsy in the pocket with his offensive tackles leaking pressure off the edge. As he scanned the field, Manning all too often saw blurs of Seattle's white jerseys closing on Denver receivers.

In the second quarter, as the Broncos faced a third-and-13 from the Seattle 35, Seahawks defensive end Cliff Avril crashed off the edge and tipped a Manning pass The ball floated to outside linebacker Malcolm Smith, who returned the interception 69 yards to give the Seahawks a three-touchdown lead.

The interception ended a 15-play Broncos drive after Denver ran just seven plays and didn't convert a first down in the first quarter.

Smith's interception return for a touchdown was the longest in a Super Bowl since Manning was intercepted by New Orleans Saints cornerback Tracy Porter for a 74-yard touchdown in Super Bowl XLIV.

Manning went to the halftime locker room with a 48.3 passer rating and the largest halftime deficit in a Super Bowl since 1990 (XXIV). He threw a critical incompletion on fourth-and-2 from the Seattle 19 with 1:01 remaining, when coach John Fox passed on a field goal before Manning skipped an out route to the far sideline, giving the ball back to Seattle.

Running back Marshawn Lynch plowed for a 1-yard touchdown to stake the Seahawks to a 15-0 lead with 12 minutes remaining in the second quarter, capping a seven-play drive that began with strong safety Kam Chancellor's interception at the 37-yard line.

Seattle dominated the first quarter, but two extended drives stalled inside the Broncos' 10-yard line. Denver limited the damage to two Steven Hauschka field goals, ending drives of nine and 13 plays after the game-opening safety.

NOTES: Denver's Peyton Manning became the third starting quarterback in Super Bowl history to lead two different teams to the game, joining Craig Morton (Broncos and Dallas Cowboys) and Kurt Warner (St. Louis Rams and Arizona Cardinals). Manning reached two Super Bowls with the Indianapolis Colts. ... Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks Joe Namath (New York Jets) and Phil Simms (New York Giants) served as honorary game captains. Namath was outfitted in a full-length fur coat. ... Officially, the temperature at game time was 49 degrees. Super Bowl VI at Tulane Stadium in New Orleans -- the site was changed with Superdome construction behind schedule -- remains the coldest kickoff temperature for a Super Bowl. It was 39 degrees for that game in 1972. Super Bowl XLIX will be played in February 2015 in Glendale, Ariz., where the temperature was 65 at 5:30 p.m. ET Sunday.
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