EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- There was no time to sulk. That's not how Peyton Manning would handle one of the worst defeats a quarterback has ever absorbed in the Super Bowl.
This hurt, mind you. This stung. But it is not in Manning's makeup to wallow in disappointment or pity, even though he and his Denver Broncos teammates squandered an opportunity to put Manning in untouchable company.
Had Manning led the Broncos to victory over the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLVIII, had he added a second Super Bowl and another Super Bowl Most Valuable Player trophy to the record five league MVP titles he has won, the conversation would have been over. Manning would have been the GOAT. He would have achieved enough, in the regular season and, when it matters most, in the postseason.
But that didn't happen. Seattle made sure of that, dominating the Broncos from the jump and delivering a lopsided beatdown. The Broncos already had a 55-10 loss in their Super Bowl history. Now they have 43-8. One belongs to John Elway, the other to Manning.
It will be tough to get over, if Manning ever can.
And one question that hung in the air after the game ended was as distasteful as the game itself:
Was it embarrassing?
"It's not embarrassing," Manning said, choking back on a word he said he refuses to use, ever.
"Embarrassing is an insulting word."
It didn't matter that the Seahawks have the first defense since the 1985 Chicago Bears to lead the league in fewest yards allowed, fewest points allowed and most turnovers created. It didn't matter that earlier this season Seattle had embarrassed other teams -- such as Eli Manning's New York Giants or Drew Brees' New Orleans Saints -- with their unique blend of speed and aggressiveness up front.
It actually all made sense. Manning knew you can't have a minus-four turnover margin and expect to win a game, especially a Super Bowl. Turnovers matter. Wasted possessions matter.
You can't hand a team like Seattle a gift-wrapped safety on the opening snap and then fail to gain a first down until the second quarter. All that does is give the Seattle defense, already brimming with swagger, even more confidence.
Manning knew all that. But 43-8? One of the biggest losses in Super Bowl history, in which the greatest offense in the history of the National Football League mustered only 279 yards, one touchdown and eight points?
That Manning didn't see coming.
All those yards Manning had thrown for during the regular season, in the end, meant nothing. All those touchdowns he threw -- more than any other team in the league -- were hollow. Manning might not have been throwing ducks, as Richard Sherman had surmised, but who cares now?
Fair or not, now we go back to the discussion about Manning's legacy. He has been to three Super Bowls. He has won only one. He is 37 years old, with a very important doctor's appointment on the horizon. The clock is ticking.