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In Super Bowl XLVIII, Seahawks Prove Defense Wins Championships

Seattle Seahawks linebacker Malcolm Smith celebrates his 69-yard pick-six after intercepting a pass thrown by Peyton Manning of the Denver Broncos during Super Bowl XLVIII. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

Seattle Seahawks linebacker Malcolm Smith celebrates his 69-yard pick-six after intercepting a pass thrown by Peyton Manning of the Denver Broncos during Super Bowl XLVIII. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

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Super Bowl XLVIII

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Richard Sherman felt the need to apologize.

While the rest of his teammates bounced around in celebration, Sherman hobbled on a pair of crutches, the pain in his right ankle keeping him from enjoying the rain storm of confetti.

“This championship hat, winning, achieving a dream it really numbs the pain a lot. It was really hurting and I was sad I let my teammates down I wasn’t able to finish the game,” Sherman said. “I knew they would step up for me and do that. This feeling is just unbelievable. It’s a dream come true.”

Led by its All-Pro cornerback, Seattle’s “Legion of Boom” secondary and the nastiest defense in the NFL proved the strength of the Seahawks was greater than the record-setting arm of Peyton Manning in their stunning 43-8 rout on Sunday night.

Sherman’s night was, well, kind of boring. After two weeks of so much attention landing at Sherman’s feet for what happened at the end of the NFC championship game, his Super Bowl night was rather uneventful.

That was by design. Manning wasn’t about to mess with arguably the best cornerback in the NFL.

“I think it was more about our players playing well than Peyton (playing badly),” Sherman said. “But I wasn’t shocked. I expected us to stand up.”

Manning carefully tried to avoid throwing at Sherman, leaving the rest of his mates in the secondary to make the plays. Safety Kam Chancellor flattened Demaryius Thomas on Denver’s third offensive play, a tone setting moment that epitomized what Seattle was hoping to accomplish against the Broncos talented receivers.

“I definitely think it did. It just sends a message that anytime you come across the middle you have a chance of getting wrecked,” Chancellor said. “And that’s the way we play on defense. We play physical. We want to instill our will. We want to be a grimy defense.”

Chancellor later had an interception on an overthrown pass, cornerback Byron Maxwell forced a fumble in the third quarter and safety Earl Thomas cleaned up everything leftover — which wasn’t much. Linebacker Malcolm Smith added a second-quarter pick-six.

“We feel like we play with a level of intensity other teams have to match,” said Smith, who earned Super Bowl MVP honors. “We liked this matchup. We felt they would have to deal with us.”

The result was one of the most lopsided Super Bowl’s ever against the most prolific offense the league had even seen.

“You can never expect it but I wasn’t really shocked. I expected us to stand up,” Sherman said. “I didn’t expect us to give up a whole lot of points. It’s not our standard to give up a whole lot of points. We haven’t done it all year. We knew we would play sound football.”

That secondary got plenty of help along with way from a defensive line that got enough pressure to make Manning uncomfortable. They only sacked Manning once, but disrupted the timing of the Broncos pass game regularly. Manning either made an extra pump, or had to take an extra slide step because of the pressure coming at him and the coverage in the secondary.

And when the passes were thrown, there was almost always someone there to make the tackle. As was their approach all season, Seattle was not going get beaten by the big play. Everything was thrown underneath.

Denver’s longest pass play was 23 yards.

“Tackling was going to be so important in this game,” Seattle defensive coordinator Dan Quinn said. “It was something we stress all the time, but for us when we play our zone coverages how fast can we close and really eliminate the yards after contact.”

Sherman was targeted only once in the first half when Manning threw a pass away that floated out of bounds. It came during the only drive of the half where Denver threatened to score, only to get turned away on fourth down.

Sherman was targeted more in the second half and twice had to be tended to by trainers for injuries. The last time finally sent him to the locker room and left Sherman on crutches and in a boot for the celebration.

But Sherman insisted he would be healthy enough for the championship parade coming on Wednesday after the Seahawks gave a performance that showed their success goes beyond their spotlighted secondary.

“It’s a lot of guys a lot of people haven’t heard of and probably should be in the Pro Bowl and All-Pros and things like that,” Sherman said. “I think they learned how complete of a team we are, how complete our defense is.

“It’s not just the ‘Legion of Boom’ back there with four guys who play good football.”

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(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)