EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Offense sells tickets, the saying goes, and defense wins championships.
Even in the pass-happy era in which we live, the immovable object usually manages to stymie the irresistible force. On Sunday at MetLife Stadium, the NFL's No. 1 defense in both yards and points absolutely throttled the No. 1 offense -- of all time.
This was an unlikely game in which Peyton Manning did a passable imitation of his beleaguered younger brother, Eli. Or was it barely passable? This season alone, Eli (15) and Peyton (two) combined to throw 17 interceptions at MetLife Stadium, the home of the Giants and Jets. In a quirky turn of events, the brothers combined to throw seven interceptions (and one lonely touchdown) here against the Seahawks this season.
The best play of the game, if you are a Seahawks fan, was linebacker Malcolm Smith's 69-yard interception return for a touchdown late in the second quarter. Defensive end Cliff Avril hit Manning's arm as he released the ball, and Smith gathered in the disabled duck -- and ran a wondrous, meandering route to the end zone. That gave Seattle a stunning 22-0 lead.
It was the longest interception return for a touchdown since the Saints' Tracy Porter took one back 74 yards -- against Manning in Super Bowl XLIV.
Going in, if you had known that Seattle's two starting cornerbacks -- Richard Sherman and Byron Maxwell -- would be out of the game midway through the fourth quarter, you might have thought Manning would have a field day. Instead, he merely finished the game with a Super Bowl record for completions (34), an exceedingly hollow victory.
The rest of the best and worst of Super Bowl XLVIII:
Best effort by a part-time player: It's not how you start; it's how you finish. Seattle wide receiver Percy Harvin got a six-year, $67 million contract but made exactly one catch during the 2013 regular season. Hip surgery on Aug. 1 to repair a torn labrum took Harvin out of play for much of the season, but he returned for the divisional playoff game against the Saints (three catches), then suffered a concussion. After sitting out the NFC Championship Game against the 49ers, he was a big part of the Seahawks' offensive game plan. He had two sweet runs in the first half, a 30-yard rush around left end and a 15-yard sweep. Then he ran back the kickoff to open the second half 87 yards for a touchdown -- and a 29-0 lead.
Best quarterback: Russell Wilson is the most successful quarterback in NFL history over his first two seasons. This Super Bowl victory gives Wilson a total of 28 wins -- one more than the Steelers' Ben Roethlisberger in 2004 and '05. This is a guy who was drafted in the third round, 53 spots behind Cleveland's Brandon Weeden.