EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Kam Chancellor leaned in as if telling a secret.
“My nickname?” the Seattle Seahawks safety asked Wednesday, smirk creasing his face. “Bam. Bam.”
The words are tattooed on each shoulder. They might as well have been written on Peyton Manning's forehead Sunday night.
That's an apt description of how anyone wearing predominantly orange felt at MetLife Stadium: Seahawks 43, Broncos 8.
The Seahawks said all week that they would punch the Broncos in the mouth. They weren't intimidated by the most prolific offense in NFL history, suggesting instead that the Broncos should be scared of them. Turns out, they were right.
“I wasn't surprised at all. They had never played a defense like ours, with guys flying around and hitting them everywhere they went,” said linebacker Bobby Wagner, his white jersey still flaked in green confetti. “We knew we could dominate them.”
The Broncos' “Hurry! Hurry!” offense was no match for a Seahawks team that was more fast and more furious. Linebacker Malcolm Smith, who switched positions during the season, won Most Valuable Player honors for his interception in the second quarter.
“It's something you dream of,” Smith said.
It took 12 seconds for everything to shift in Seattle's favor, a tidal wave so powerful that fans were chanting “Sea! Hawks!” as Bruno Mars walked on stage for his halftime performance.
On the game's first play, Manning and center Manny Ramirez crossed wires. With Manning looking to his left, Ramirez snapped the ball to the right for a safety. “There's no explanation for it,” said Ramirez, shaking his head. The Broncos were wobbling, and by halftime they were out on their feet, down 22-0.
On Denver's second possession, Seattle's speed and muscle were startling, suggesting the mismatch that would develop. Chancellor, whom teammates call the 'Enforcer,' leveled receiver Demaryius Thomas on a crossing route.
Thomas rose slowly to his feet, presumably checking if he had a full set of teeth. Down 8-0, Manning attempted to sneak a pass to tight Julius Thomas. To this point, the blame had fingers pointing in several directions. They came back squarely at Manning with two turnovers. Chancellor intercepted the floater intended for Julius Thomas.
“They didn't do anything that surprised us,” Thomas said. “We stressed execution all week, and it was probably our worst execution all year.”
The Seahawks capitalized on the mistake with Marshawn Lynch's 1-yard touchdown plunge. The dominance was chilling: the Seahawks scored four times before the Broncos recorded their initial first down with 10:31 remaining in the second quarter.
Mercy isn't one of Seattle's admirable traits.
Coach Pete Carroll's motto is “Compete” and “Win Forever.” With the Broncos gasping, saddled with a 15-point deficit, Seattle elbowed them in the throat. In the second quarter, end Cliff Avril trampled into Manning's face, deflecting a pass to Smith, who returned it 69 yards for a touchdown. Manning's exasperated look said more than the scoreboard. He wasn't going to be the first quarterback since George Blanda in 1961 to lead the league in yards and touchdowns and win a championship.
“They caused a lot of our mistakes,” Manning said.
Everything about the week went by Seattle's script. It didn't have a single player with Super Bowl experience, yet marched into this game with swagger. They were built from back to front, their Legion of Doom secondary infusing confidence to a mouth foaming front seven.
“People in Seattle are going to be talking about this team 100 years from now,” Wagner said. “The only disappointment is that we didn't shut them out.”
Troy E. Renck: firstname.lastname@example.org or twitter.com/troyrenck