EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — This was the way the Seattle Seahawks drew it up before the season started, put together perfectly on the biggest stage of all.
The vaunted defense dominating the line of scrimmage and creating turnovers. Percy Harvin creating chaos on offense and in the return game. A lead swelling to the point they could use Marshawn Lynch to batter the broken Denver Broncos and Russell Wilson could relax and deal.
The Seahawks did what they wanted and then some in Super Bowl XLVIII, blowing out the favored Broncos 43-8 and bringing familiar, boisterous chants from members of the 12th Man who made the long trip to MetLife Stadium to see the franchise’s first title.
BREAKTHROUGH: Seahawks capture first title
VALIDATION: Title confirms Carroll’s methods
That the Seahawks roster built by general manager John Schneider and coach Pete Carroll has enough young stars to make it a contender to repeat was just a bonus on this night. They’re champions, and they finished the job by making a legend look like just another helpless victim.
Honored as league MVP on Saturday, Denver quarterback Peyton Manning never even got started in what was supposed to be a matchup for the ages against Seattle’s defense.
He threw one interception off-balance to safety Kam Chancellor and another when his arm got hit by Cliff Avril — the latter returned 69 yards for a touchdown by linebacker Malcolm Smith as the Broncos fell into a 22-0 hole at halftime.
Then Harvin picked up the opening kickoff of the second half on a bounce, jump-cut past Brandon Marshall and raced 87 yards for a touchdown that erased any doubt about who’d be taking home the Vince Lombardi Trophy.
INSTANT REACTION: Quick takeaways from Seattle’s victory
Harvin had played in just two games all season because of hip surgery, related setbacks and a concussion that kept him out of the NFC championship game two weeks earlier. But like everything else Sunday, Harvin’s health came together at the perfect time.
He also gained 45 yards on two jet sweeps before halftime, helping Seattle move the ball at a time the Broncos were ganging up on Lynch (11 carries for 17 yards in the first half) and Wilson’s accuracy came and went amidst apparent early jitters.
Time and again, the Seahawks defense stopped promising Broncos drives or snuffed them out before they started, putting the Seattle offense in position to cash in — or just cashing in itself.
The Broncos’ offense struggled from the first snap, which sailed past Manning’s head during an attempted line check and into the end zone for a safety upon Knowshon Moreno’s recovery. Their second drive went three-and-out, with Chancellor and Avril forcing the action.
Denver’s third drive ended with an off-balance Manning throw that sailed over Demaryius Thomas’ head and into the arms of Chancellor for an interception, setting up a 1-yard Lynch TD. The fourth ended with Avril hit Manning’s arm in motion, gifting Smith a pick-six.
HEARTBREAKER: Peyton is great, but just not on this night
AWFUL START: Broncos can’t recover from early mistakes
Driving again down 22, the Broncos reached the Seattle 19 before the half — only for Chris Clemons to get a piece of Manning’s fourth-and-2 throw and leave Denver scoreless.
Byron Maxwell punched the ball out of Thomas’ hands and Smith recovered for another takeaway midway through the third quarter. Six plays later, Jermaine Kearse caught a short pass from Wilson and bounced off four tacklers for a 23-yard score.
It seemed like everyone got a piece of the action before the lead was 36 and the highest-scoring offense ever finally got on the scoreboard as the third quarter expired, with Thomas snaring Manning’s pass for a 22-yard touchdown and Welker catching the two-point conversion throw.
The Seahawks recovered the onside kick and went 48 yards in five plays, capped by Doug Baldwin’s 10-yard TD catch.
Follow national NFL reporter Tom Pelissero on Twitter @TomPelissero.
PHOTOS: THE VERY BEST OF SUPER BOWL XLVIII