The Denver Broncos arrived at football's biggest stage, reigning champions of the American Football Conference, clad in orange, led by a future Hall of Famer at quarterback, the dreams and hopes of a blue and orange Broncos Country behind them...
And promptly laid a Super-sized egg.
It was all too familiar.
We were all fools heading into the game; the Broncos hardly stood a chance in Super Bowl XLVIII. The Seahawks were, thoroughly, the better team. Their gameplan was simple: be physical to Denver's wide receivers. "We were going to zone 'em, and we were going to hit 'em," Richard Sherman said after the game. "Intimidate 'em." It was exactly what the Seahawks said they were going to do, and the plan worked. The Broncos failed to muster a first down until deep in the second quarter. They failed to score a point until the end of the third quarter. They failed to make it an interesting game through the end of the fourth quarter.
"I think we played a great football team," Peyton Manning said. "We needed to play really well in order to win, and we didn't come anywhere close to that. We weren't sharp offensively from the very get-go."
Denver's first offensive snap was a fumbled exchange between Manny Ramirez and Manning that the Seahawks converted to a safety. In the blink of an eye it was 2-0.
"It is just hard to have something like that happen in the beginning of the game," Ramirez said.
In another blink, it was 36-0.
"We just never really rebounded," said Wes Welker.
Nothing went right for the Broncos. Denver's defense couldn't get off the field on third downs. A pick-six by the game's MVP Malcolm Smith put the Broncos down deep early. Hoping for a shift in momentum after halftime, Denver was crushed to see Seattle's Percy Harvin return the second half kickoff for a touchdown.
The Broncos were dominated in all three phases. Like the Broncos' Super Bowls of old, they weren't up to the talent of their NFC counterparts. Denver lost its NFL record fifth Super Bowl Sunday, and again they lost in convincing fashion. Already the owners of the most lopsided loss in Super Bowl history (Super Bowl XXIV's 55-10 loss to the San Francisco 49ers), the Broncos can now claim three of the five worst losses in football's biggest stage.
Was it nerves? Was it a lack of preparation? Was it the talent of the man at quarterback grossly overcompensating for the talent around him? Was it simply the fact that the Seattle Seahawks were far more physical, athletic, and well-prepared for their game Super Bowl Sunday?
The Broncos had to play a perfect game to stand a chance against the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLVIII. They played a game far, far from it, and the Seahawks played their game perfectly against the Broncos.
The Broncos were humbled Sunday in New Jersey. Now Broncos Country has to eat the pain, deal with the disappointment. Let it run its course in our broken hearts quickly, then move on.
"It's disappointing for our entire team," Manning said. "We worked hard to get to this point and overcame a lot of obstacles to be here, putting in a lot of hard work. It is a really good thing just to have this opportunity, but certainly to finish this way is very disappointing.
"It is not an easy pill to swallow, but eventually, you have to."
I've seen this Super Bowl before.
I've felt this Super Bowl before.