EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — No, it wasn’t a Super Bowl edition of “Football Follies.”
The first snap of the game was errant, leading to the quickest score in Super Bowl history. From there, things continued to be historic, hectic and down-right strange in the opening 15 minutes.
And when it was done, the Seahawks held an eight-point lead after the first quarter en route to a 43-8 victory over the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII on Sunday at MetLife Stadium.
“Momentum is important in sports,” Broncos coach John Fox said, “and we obviously gave them a little bit of momentum from the first snap.”
Before that first snap, Trindon Holliday, the Broncos’ returner who had busted two touchdowns this season on returns, decided to bring the ball out of the end zone from 6 yards deep. He only got the 14, putting Denver in a hole.
That hole would get deeper.
With Peyton Manning barking instructions out of the shotgun and walking toward the line of scrimmage, center Manny Ramirez snapped the ball. Manning wasn’t ready for it and the ball wound up bouncing into the end zone. There, Broncos running back Knowshon Moreno fell on it but Seahawks defensive end Cliff Avril fell on him.
Safety, and a 2-0 lead for Seattle a record 12 seconds into the game.
It was the third safety in three years and the ninth in Super Bowl history.
“It was real loud and we were planning on going with the cadence,” Ramirez said. “None of us heard the snap count. I thought I did…. I’m not 100 percent sure.
“It’s unfortunate and things didn’t go as planned.”
The Seahawks got the ball back after the safety and drove to the Denver 9. There, they faced fourth-and-1 after Russell Wilson scrambled for 5 yards that looked close the first down. Coach Pete Carroll challenged the spot, but lost.
Kicker Steven Hauschka, after a false start penalty, drilled the 31-yard field goal for a 5-0 lead. That was also a first; no team in 47 previous Super Bowls had ever held that advantage.
As odd as that was it wasn’t as head scratching as the meager output of the Denver offense. The Broncos gained 11 yards – 10 passing and one rushing. Their previous low for a quarter in their record-setting season was 59.
The Seahawks’ total of 148 yards, however, was a season-best.
“I thought we played real well, start-to-finish,” Carroll said. “We did everything we wanted to do. They really didn’t have many opportunities to get the momentum from the start of the football game.”
There was also a glimpse of how difficult of a night Manning was going to have.
The team’s second possession was a three-and-out. The Seahawks drove it down for another Hauschka field goal to make it 8-0. The Broncos’ third possession ended in the hands of Kam Chancellor, who picked off Manning at the Denver 37 to set up the Seahawks first touchdown of the game, scored early in the second quarter.
“The turnover on the first play of the game is not the way you want to start a game,” Manning said. “For whatever reason, we couldn’t get much going after that.”