EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) - All those records, all for naught.
They lost to Seattle in the Super Bowl 43-8 by falling behind right from the start and never recovering.
“It was a crazy start,” Manning said, “not the way you expect to start the game.”
It only got worse for the league’s most prolific point producers who scored 606 of ‘em in the regular season, then dominated the AFC in the playoffs but mustered only Demaryius Thomas’ 14-yard touchdown catch on the final play of the third quarter at MetLife Stadium.
“We couldn’t get it to swing, man,” left tackle Chris Clark said. “We tried, but they just played better than we did today. It didn’t shift. We didn’t play Broncos football today. When you got a good thing going, you want to finish it off and we didn’t do that today.”
Dominated in every way, the Broncos (15-4) trudged through the tunnel trailing 22-0 at halftime, then watched Percy Harvin return the second-half kickoff for a TD.
“You’ve got to play well in this game to win it,” said Broncos boss John Elway, who lost Super Bowls by scores of 39-20, 42-10 and 55-10 during his Hall of Fame playing career before winning his last two.
Over his two seasons in Colorado, Manning engineered the greatest comeback in NFL history: recovering from neck fusion surgery that weakened his throwing arm to win his fifth MVP award this season when he set records by throwing for 55 TDs and 5,447 yards.
But he couldn’t match that with the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history after falling behind 36-0.
“I will tell you this: it’s hard to get things turned around against a great defense like that,” Elway said. “They are a great defense. So, that’s why you can’t afford to lose the momentum because to try to flip it on a great defense is always hard.”
This was easily Manning’s worst day since trading the blue and white horseshoe of the Indianapolis Colts for the orange-mane mustang of Denver. He was sacked for the first time in the playoffs, threw two interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown, lost a fumble and turned it over on downs.
The bumbling Broncos finally found the end zone when Thomas made a leaping, twisting grab of Manning’s 14-yard pass - his 100th TD toss for Denver. But he needed a lot more of those to keep up with the efficient Russell Wilson, who didn’t commit any turnovers and kept plays alive with his legs and pinpoint passes.