Seattle Seahawks build fine legacy at Peyton Manning's expense

Joe Namath, wearing a fur coat that only "Broadway Joe" could have pulled off, prematurely flipped the ceremonial coin. It was intercepted midair by the lead official, who chuckled and finished explaining the rules for the coin toss. Thus, Joe had to flip again.

That should've been a telling sign we were in for a wacky night.

I expected Super Bowl XLVIII to be an epic game after an unreal season. Instead, we got a total clunker, with the Seattle Seahawks bludgeoning the Denver Broncos, 43-8, to secure an incredibly impressive title win.

But though it was a pasting, this game didn't lack for incredible storylines, punchlines and ensuing debates.

Here are our biggest takeaways from the Super Bowl, Schein Nine style:

1) Legacy defined ... for Seattle's defense

Think about it. Consider the elite defenses that carried their respective teams to the Lombardi Trophy in the past 30 years. The 1985 Chicago Bears. The 2000 Baltimore Ravens. The 2013 Seattle Seahawks.

Peyton Manning had, in my opinion, the single greatest quarterbacking season in NFL history. Yet on Sunday, the Seahawks' defense embarrassed him and the Broncos. Manning had one touchdown pass -- in garbage time. It was sheer domination by Seattle. It was 22-0 at the half.

And, like we've seen it do all year, the Seahawks' swarming defense gave a total team effort. Malcolm Smith earned Super Bowl MVP honors, thanks in large part to his second-quarter pick-six. But that play doesn't happen without the pressure applied by Cliff Avril, who, along with Michael Bennett and others, harassed Manning throughout the game. Meanwhile, Kam Chancellor headlined the "Legion of Boom" with a fantastic game, supplying bone-crushing hits and picking off a true Manning duck.

The most prolific offense in NFL history didn't record a single first down until the 10:30 mark of the second quarter!

The NFL is a passing league. The rules are made for the offense. Factor it all in. The Seahawks' defense has been nothing short of incredible all year. The unit deserves to be cherished and recognized after a mind-bending performance.

2) Legacy defined ... for Peyton Manning

Look, a lot of things went wrong for the Broncos on Sunday. But how could you spin this in any way that doesn't look bad for Peyton Manning?

Manning played his worst when it mattered the most. The Super Bowl was his worst game of the season. Check the numbers. Trust your eyes. That's fact, not opinion.

On NFL Network
NFL Replay
will re-air in full the Seattle Seahawks' 43-8 victory over the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII on Tuesday, Feb. 4, at 9 p.m. ET.

I will again call Manning a Mount Rushmore quarterback. But you can't be considered the greatest or most clutch when you're 11-12 in the playoffs and 1-2 in the Super Bowl.

Manning and the Broncos laid an egg. Seattle should get credit, but this is a game that stays with Manning and sticks to him in the court of public opinion.

3) Early harbingers ...

Twelve seconds into the Super Bowl, it was 2-0 Seattle. Manny Ramirez's snap over Manning's head, which sent the ball into the Broncos' end zone, was the ultimate harbinger of things to come. Manning was off. His line, so strong all year, was worse.

Following the safety, on the ensuing Seahawks drive, Seattle faced a fourth-and-1 at the Broncos' 9-yard line. Pete Carroll opted for a field goal and a 5-0 lead. I'm usually fine with that conservative approach, but I thought it flew against how Carroll coaches the game. I felt, at the time, that Carroll made a faux pas by not going for it.

Funny looking back at that now.

The Seattle defense then held Manning to a three-and-out in another sign of the flow of this Super Bowl.

The safety, the field goal, and the Broncos' three-and-out -- a telling way to start the game.

4) Out-Foxed

John Fox coached a terrible game for the Broncos.

Why did he challenge a Seahawks incompletion in the first quarter when it was clearly a forward pass?

Why didn't he kick a field goal near the end of the second quarter to at least put some points on the board?

Why did he punt in the third quarter when the Broncos were down 29-0 with the ball at the Seahawks' 39-yard line? (And why did Montee Ball run the ball on the play before the punt, a third-and-10?)

5) Mercy, Percy!

Last March, after trading a trio of draft picks for Percy Harvin and then handing the receiver a bushel of cash, Seahawks general manager John Schneider uttered a great line to me on SiriusXM Radio. When I asked him about the risks of trading for a player with an injury history, Schneider responded: "Risks? We know the history. But we know the rewards. He changes games."

As it turned out, Harvin did indeed change a game for the 2013 Seahawks: the Super Bowl.

Harvin immediately made his presence felt on Sunday, with a 30-yard fly sweep on the Seahawks' second play from scrimmage. But his biggest play came at the outset of the second half: an 87-yard kick-return touchdown that gave Seattle a four-score lead and truly put the dagger in Denver's heart.

On NFL Network
Watch Seattle celebrate its first major sports title since 1979 on "NFL Total Access Special: Seahawks Victory Parade" Wednesday, Feb. 5, at 2 p.m. ET.

Last week, I doubted that Harvin would be a factor, considering he barely played all season and didn't seem capable of even finishing a game.

As it turned out, he was worth every penny.

6) Russell's living large

I always found the questions about Russell Wilson's height (he's listed at 5-foot-11) to be absurd. The kid had a knack for taking care of the ball in college, and he's been the same clutch player in the pros. Nobody works harder. And now he's a champion.

Wilson brilliantly helped set the tone with three huge third-down completions on Seattle's second drive. He spread the ball around all evening -- to Golden Tate, Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse, among others -- and made gorgeous throws showing off his incredible touch.

Wilson has been one of my favorite players in the league over the past two seasons and I couldn't be happier for him.

7) Schneider's touch

I mentioned the general manager's savvy trade for Harvin above, but that's just the tip of the iceberg.

It was Schneider who pounded the table to draft Wilson.

It was Schneider who pushed for the Marshawn Lynch trade.

It was Schneider who signed Bennett and Avril to highly reasonable deals this past offseason.

John Schneider is one of the best executives in football. This has been clear to people in the know for quite a while. I'm thrilled he's now open to universal acclaim across the sports spectrum.

Give Carroll credit for delivering a title, but make sure Schneider gets the same love.

8) Buyer beware

History says it is a risky proposition to spend big on free-agent receivers. Remember Alvin Harper? Jerry Porter? David Boston?

Was potential free-agent-to-be Eric Decker active in the Super Bowl?

He's a good player playing with an all-time great regular-season quarterback. Take heed, big spenders.

9) New York, New York

Not one mention of inclement weather on Super Bowl Sunday. Gorgeous day. Fantastic night. As I wrote over the weekend, I can't wait for the next New York/New Jersey Super Bowl.

Follow Adam Schein on Twitter @AdamSchein.

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