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Seattle linebacker Malcolm Smith returned an interception of Peyton Manning 69 yards for a touchdown and later recovered a fumble, earning Super Bowl MVP honors in the Seahawks' 43-8 victory over the Denver Broncos on Sunday night.
Smith is only the third linebacker in Super Bowl history to earn the award, joining Ray Lewis of Baltimore in 2001, and Chuck Howley of Dallas in 1971.
It was appropriate that a member of Seattle's league-leading "D'' would be the MVP, considering the way the Seahawks shut down Manning and Denver's record-breaking offense, forcing four turnovers and holding the Broncos scoreless until the last play of the third quarter.
Smith's pick-6 made it 22-0 late in the first half, and Seattle was on its way.
RICHARD SHERMAN WAITED, and waited and the throws never floated his direction.
Led by its All-Pro cornerback, Seattle's "Legion of Boom" secondary and the nastiest defense in the NFL proved the strength of the Seahawks was greater than the record-setting arm of Peyton Manning in their stunning 43-8 rout on Sunday night.
Manning carefully tried to avoid throwing at Sherman, leaving the rest of his mates in the secondary to make the plays.
Safety Kam Chancellor flattened Demaryius Thomas on Denver's third offensive play to set a tone. Chancellor later had an interception, cornerback Byron Maxwell forced a fumble and safety Earl Thomas cleaned up everything leftover — which wasn't much.
Sherman suffered an injury in the fourth quarter and returned to the sideline in time for the celebration in sweats and on crutches.
Early safety sets record, and tone, in Super Bowl
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 Broncos' first play from scrimmage started out looking like any other for Denver. 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 the ball to keep Seattle from scoring a touchdown, but it was still a safety and a 2-0 lead for the Seahawks.
That would grow to 36-0 before the Broncos finally scored on the last play of the third quarter in a 43-8 loss.
It 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. That time, he 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.
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).
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.