EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The most prolific offense in NFL history was humiliated by the stingiest pass defense of the past decade in Super Bowl XLVIII.
Regular-season MVP Peyton Manning received little help from his surrounding talent, but there's no escaping the blunt truth; he played one of the worst games of his career on football's biggest stage.
"We weren't sharp from the very get-go," Manning said following the game.
Like most quarterbacks, Manning is at his least effective when he can't set his feet. As Seahawks defensive tackle Tony McDaniel noted last week, Manning has a tendency to get "happy feet" if his first, second and third reads are taken away.
That's exactly how Manning's record-breaking aerial attack was blanked for nearly three full quarters Sunday.
Credit goes to the speed and physicality of a Seattle defense that manhandled Denver's receivers at the line of scrimmage and made them pay for going across the middle, harassing Manning early and often.
That consistent pressure led Manning to force a throw that wasn't there on his first interception. And he was hit as he threw on a subsequent pick six that buried his team with a 22-0 deficit going into halftime.
There was no escape from the incessant questions about Manning's legacy in the week leading up to Super Bowl XLVIII. The greatest regular-season quarterback in NFL history was given the opportunity to make his case for the biggest bust on football's Mount Rushmore.
Instead of grabbing the brass ring, he fell flat again, lowering his playoff record to 11-12 with more losses than wins in NFL championship games.
Despite the unprecedented five MVP awards and the innumerable statistical records that he will hold when it's all said and done, Manning's postseason failures leave him shy of the ultimate glory.
On the bright side, the five-time MVP will have another chance to change that "narrative" next season.