Nobody called Sherman a big mouth, or worse, or questioned his agenda this time. Nobody dared after the Seahawks made a statement louder than anything Sherman could utter with one of the most dominant Super Bowl performances ever.
"We're a bunch of misfits in some ways … not a lot of guys people have heard of, but I think they learned how complete of a team we are,'' Sherman said. "We were who we were.''
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They were physical and fast, aggressive and opportunistic. They were well-prepared and never threatened. They are deserving Super Bowl champions.
"At the beginning of the season I told the guys, why not us?'' said Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, who outplayed counterpart Peyton Manning. "It's only my second year, but I believed in our guys.''
Believe this: This game was over in a New York minute, shortly after Manning felt a shotgun snap sail past his ear on his team's first play. The ball was recovered in the end zone, and officials signaled safety. The state of Colorado sensed danger.
Seattle's best turned this into the worst Super Bowl imaginable for the Broncos. The NFL delivered on its promise of good weather with the kickoff temperature 49 degrees on an ideal night for football in the Northeast, but the game fell miserably short for everybody outside the Northwest. From the first snap to the last, the Broncos failed to compete in every phase and tempted a national television audience to reach for the remote control.
"We ran into a buzz saw,'' Broncos coach John Fox said.
As they know well in Seattle, when it rains it pours, but this time nobody from the Emerald City complained as the Broncos drowned in a torrent of mistakes forced by the Seahawks. The 35-point rout suggested that the real Super Bowl took place in the NFC championship game when the Seahawks squeaked by the 49ers.
They can change the NFL rules but not reality. The adage still applies: Offense wins games and divisions and television ratings points, but defense still wins championships. The Broncos scored an NFL-record 606 points, but their offense barely produced an echo against the "Legion of Boom.''
The last time a defense dominated a Super Bowl this thoroughly, the Bears carried coach Mike Ditka and defensive coordinator Buddy Ryan off the field after Super Bowl XX. The Bears gave up fewer yards (123), but the '85 Patriots were the 10th-ranked offense, not among the NFL's best ever.
To America's surprise, Manning reprised the role of Patriots quarterback Tony Eason convincingly, looking hesitant and harried. For the second straight Super Bowl, Manning threw a pick-six when Super Bowl MVP Malcolm Smith returned a tipped pass 69 yards for a touchdown. Somewhere, cornerback Tracy Porter smiled recalling making a similar play for the Saints in XLIV.
"Tonight was just my turn,'' Smith said.
Manning threw so many ducks that Aflac officials should have camped outside the Broncos locker room door to talk endorsements. He established a Super Bowl record for completions with 34. Some of them even went beyond 5 yards.
"We weren't sharp from the get-go,'' Manning said.
Offensively, the Broncos started the game with a safety, a three-and-out series and an interception — and it only got worse as the surest tackling team in the league gained momentum. Within the first 12 seconds of each half, the Seahawks gave the "12th Man" reason to rev up the Richter scale with a safety and an 87-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by Percy Harvin. The Broncos started both halves like a team that spent too much time in New York sightseeing.
The national overreaction to the blowout will include those questioning Manning's legacy now that he has lost more Super Bowls (two) than he has won (one). But as horrific as this was, if Manning never wins another title or plays another game, he still goes down as one of the top five quarterbacks ever. Dan Marino would have loved to carry the burden of a 1-2 Super Bowl record into Canton.
Instead of debating Manning's place in football history, a better question now surrounds Seahawks coach Pete Carroll's. Carroll became the third man to win a national championship and a Super Bowl, joining Barry Switzer and Jimmy Johnson, with a tirelessly positive approach as rejuvenating as a double espresso. If the NFL really is a copycat league, many head coaches went to bed Sunday night mulling the merits of smiling more.
"We're not sleeping tonight,'' Carroll said. "The party's going to get started as soon as you guys let me go."
Newfound respect will greet Carroll and his Seahawks at the door.