EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. –After just one play, the tone was set.
After receiving the opening kickoff, the first snap of the game sailed over quarterback Peyton Manning's head and by the time running back Knowshon Moreno caught up to it, the ball slid over the end line for a safety.
Though not a technically a turnover, it gave the ball and two points to the Seahawks.
Before halftime, the Broncos would give the ball to the Seahawks three more times.
"When you don't have that many possessions to start with and then you end it with turnovers and you just cut yourself short and you get behind a good team, it snowballs," wide receiver Eric Decker said. "Unfortunately that's what happened to us. They made all the big plays.
"You have to give credit where credit is due and they played one heck of a game."
That snowball was picked up speed when with a little more than two minutes left in the first half Manning missed tight end Julius Thomas and was picked off by safety Kam Chancellor.
That interception eventually led to the first touchdown of the game – a 1-yard run by Seattle running back Marshawn Lynch. On the ensuing Broncos drive, Manning was hit as he threw a pass in the direction of Moreno and that interception led directly to a touchdown as Malcolm Smith took it all the way to the ends zone.
"They have an excellent defense and certainly to get behind and give them the lead played into their hands," Manning said. "That's what they do to a lot of teams. They can get the lead on a team. It definitely benefits their team and their defense. We certainly didn't want to do that. We wanted to keep the game on the field, keep the score even. Got behind early, never could make a run to catch up. From that standpoint, it was definitely a disadvantage for us and an advantage for them."
With the Seattle lead growing quickly, the Broncos failed to convert a fourth-and-two on the Seattle 19 inside the final two minutes of the first half but Manning's pass fell incomplete.
By halftime, the lead was 22-0. Just 12 seconds into the third quarter, the lead was 29-0.
And when a glimmer of hope shone through in the third quarter as wide receiver Demaryius Thomas hauled in a catch with a little space deep in the Seahawks zone, Byron Maxwell poked the ball loose for the third Broncos fumble of the day.
When the confetti settled on Super Bowl XLVIII, the Broncos had four turnovers to the Seahawks zero; that coupled with a Seattle offense that was forced to punt just once proved to be too much.
In that vein, the final score and the final stats don't necessarily align. Manning threw for nearly 75 more yards than Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson and the Broncos held Lynch to just 39 rushing yards. But the Seahawks ability to put points on the board in other facets of the game proved to be the difference.
"That just goes to show that you need all three phases and they beat us in all three phases," defensive end Shaun Phillips said. "When you lose in all three phases then the score gets ugly like it is. I think if you score a defensive touchdown your chances of winning increase to like 80 percent. If you score a special teams touchdown and a defensive touchdown you increase your chance to win to like 99 percent.
"Those are things you just don't want to happen, especially in the Super Bowl."