Super Bowl a classic offensive-defensive matchup

NEW YORK (AP) - Peyton Manning, unstoppable.

Seattle Seahawks, immovable.

A classic.

At least that’s how the first outdoor Super Bowl in a cold-weather city shapes up. The NFL and its followers - those frozen fans in the Meadowlands next Sunday, and more than $110 million watching on TV - couldn’t have asked for a juicier matchup.

Manning’s Denver Broncos went 13-3 to earn the top seed in the AFC, scoring more points (606) than any team in league history, with 55 of their touchdowns coming on his passes, shattering Tom Brady’s record. They used home-field advantage to beat San Diego and New England for their first appearance in the Super Bowl since John Elway had the Manning role in the 1999 game.

The Seahawks had the same record to rule the NFC before downing New Orleans and San Francisco, using a relentless defense reminiscent of the 2000 Ravens. They allowed only 231 points - the Broncos scored 230 in their first five games.

Something has to give in MetLife Stadium.

“You would want that challenge,” says Seahawks All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman, who already grabbed the limelight for a postgame diatribe on national TV following the win over San Francisco. “We really embrace that. As a defense, we respect the heck out of Peyton Manning, but as a true competitor, as competitive as our team is, you wouldn’t want to have it any other way. You want the best of the best; otherwise you don’t feel like you’re getting the biggest challenge of your life.”

Seattle will be challenged, make no mistake about that.

“Just still trying to get to know them, but from what I’ve seen so far, it’s certainly an excellent defense,” Manning said, and that was before he saw everything the Seahawks can do to stop opponents.

“It’s the Super Bowl, so it’s going to be tough,” adds Pro Bowl tight end Julius Thomas. “Nothing is going to come easy. I’m pretty sure you’re going to see two teams playing as physical as possible. This is for all the marbles, so I’m pretty sure it will be a tough game all around.”

This is the sixth time the NFL’s top offense in points faces the top defense in the Super Bowl. Who has had the edge?

The defense, winning four of those five games: Green Bay over Kansas City in the very first one; Pittsburgh over Dallas in 1979; San Francisco over Miami in 1985; and the New York Giants over Buffalo in 1991. The one exception came in 1990, when the Broncos had no chance against Joe Montana, Jerry Rice and company, losing 55-10 in the biggest romp in Super Bowl history.

Only once have the teams ranked first in yards gained and allowed met in the Super Bowl. That was 11 years ago when defense-minded Tampa Bay routed Oakland 48-21. The Buccaneers had five interceptions, scoring on two, and yielded 11 first downs.

But this is the first time the leader in yards gained and points scored faced the team that was most miserly in both categories.

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