Early safety sets record, and tone, in Super Bowl
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Just 12 seconds into the Super Bowl, the Denver Broncos were already trailing after a bizarre, clumsy sequence. It set a record — and the tone for the game.
The first play from scrimmage started out looking like any other for the Denver Broncos. There was Peyton Manning barking out his calls, but before he could even finish, center Manny Ramirez snapped the ball, which sailed past the unprepared quarterback and into the end zone. Knowshon Moreno fell on it to keep Seattle from scoring a touchdown, but it was still a safety and a 2-0 lead for the Seahawks.
The Broncos had decided to go with a cadence, Ramirez said, but it was hard to hear over the crowd noise.
“None of us heard the snap count, and I thought I did. And I snapped it,” he said.
When he got back to the sideline, Ramirez learned that Manning was actually walking up toward him when the center snapped the ball.
Manning briefly talked to Ramirez on the bench after the gaffe. Things didn’t get much better for the Broncos and the lead grew to 36-0 before Denver finally scored on the last play of the third quarter in a 43-8 loss.
The safety was the fastest score in Super Bowl history. The previous record was 14 seconds on Devin Hester’s return of the opening kickoff for a touchdown for the Bears in 2007 — also against Manning’s team. That time, Manning soon led his Colts back into the lead, and Indianapolis beat Chicago 29-17. There was no such comeback Sunday.
This was the third straight Super Bowl with a safety. Two years, a safety also accounted for the first score of the game when New England quarterback Tom Brady was penalized for intentional grounding on a throw from the end zone in a loss to the Giants; last year, a safety produced the final points of the game in Baltimore’s win over San Francisco.
0-16 TO CHAMPION: Cliff Avril now has experienced the highest of highs and the lowest of lows in pro football.
In 2008, Avril was with the Detroit Lions. That team won one fewer game all season than his current club, the Seattle Seahawks, did in just one night Sunday in the Super Bowl.
Avril signed with Seattle before this season as a free agent, and through all of the Seahawks’ success — including the win over Denver for their first NFL championship — he hasn’t forgotten how bad things can get.
“It is amazing,” said the six-year veteran, whose pressure forced Manning into an interception that teammate Malcolm Smith returned for a second-quarter touchdown. “It is what we worked for. This is why we play the game. I went from 0-16 to now I am a champ. I am a champ and this feels great. We are the best in the world now. It doesn’t get any better.”
RECORD IN DEFEAT: It sounds like great news for the Broncos: Peyton Manning and Demaryius Thomas set Super Bowl offensive records.
But all those numbers did little against the Seahawks, most coming after Seattle was firmly in control.
Manning had 34 completions and Thomas 13 catches Sunday, both records. New England’s Tom Brady (against Carolina in 2004) and New Orleans’ Drew Brees (against Manning’s Colts in 2010) each had completed 32 passes.
The previous receptions mark was 11, shared by Cincinnati’s Dan Ross (1982 against the 49ers), San Francisco’s Jerry Rice (1989 against the Bengals), and New England’s Deion Branch (2005 against Philadelphia) and Wes Welker (2008 against the Giants).
A much more dubious record set by the Broncos on Sunday: They have lost the most Super Bowls of any franchise with five. Denver has twice won the Super Bowl.
GOODELL GUEST: NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s Super Bowl special guest got a chance to see his hometown team.
Zack Lystedt, whose head injury sparked a wave of youth concussion legislation across the country, was invited by Goodell to attend Sunday’s game and watch the Seahawks play.
Lystedt, then 13, became the face of concussion awareness after he nearly died from a head injury suffered in a youth football game in 2006. Lystedt needed two emergency brain surgeries to survive.
The injury led to the Lystedt Law, first passed in the state of Washington in 2009 and copied nationwide. The Washington law keeps athletes high school age and younger from returning to the playing field without a doctor’s authorization when a concussion is suspected.
Mississippi passed a youth concussion awareness law earlier this week. The National Sports Concussion Coalition said Mississippi was the last state without a youth-concussion law to set standards for medical evaluation and return to play.
Zack’s father, Victor, said in a text message Sunday that the family had arrived for the game. Goodell first met Zack in October 2010 at a brain injury event in Washington state.
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