East Rutherford, N.J. • Just 12 seconds into the Super Bowl, the Denver Broncos were already trailing after a bizarre, clumsy sequence. It set a record — and the tone for the game.
The first play from scrimmage started out looking like any other for the Denver Broncos. There was Peyton Manning barking out his calls, but before he could even finish, center Manny Ramirez snapped the ball, which sailed past the unprepared quarterback and into the end zone. Knowshon Moreno fell on it to keep Seattle from scoring a touchdown, but it was still a safety and a 2-0 lead for the Seahawks.
The Broncos had decided to go with a cadence, Ramirez said, but it was hard to hear over the crowd noise. "None of us heard the snap count, and I thought I did. And I snapped it," he said.
When he got back to the sideline, Ramirez learned that Manning was actually walking toward him when the center snapped the ball.
"It’s hard to have something like that happen at the beginning of the game," Ramirez said.
Things didn’t get much better for the Broncos and the lead grew to 36-0 before Denver finally scored on the last play of the third quarter in a 43-8 loss.
The safety was the fastest score in Super Bowl history. The previous record was 14 seconds on Devin Hester’s return of the opening kickoff for a touchdown for the Bears in 2007 — also against Manning’s team. That time, Manning soon led his Colts back into the lead, and Indianapolis beat Chicago 29-17.
0-16 to champion
Defensive end Cliff Avril has experienced the highest of highs and the lowest of lows in pro football. In 2008, Avril was with Detroit Lions when the Lions went 0-16. Avril signed with Seattle before this season as a free agent, and through all of the Seahawks’ success — including the win over Denver for their first NFL championship — he hasn’t forgotten how bad things can get.
"It is amazing," said the six-year veteran, whose pressure forced Manning into an interception that teammate Malcolm Smith returned for a second-quarter touchdown. "It is what we worked for. This is why we play the game. I went from 0-16 to now I am a champ. I am a champ and this feels great. We are the best in the world now. It doesn’t get any better."
The first cold-weather Super Bowl turned out to be unseasonably warm. Some two hours before kickoff, it was 52 degrees and cloudy. The National Weather Service said that temperatures for Sunday’s game were 10 to 15 degrees above normal.
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