EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — In the week leading up to Super Bowl XLVIII, Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning patiently fielded questions about his legacy, his health, his faith, his family and most everything else.
His temper finally flared Sunday when the word “embarrassing” was attached to a question about the Broncos’ 43-8 loss at MetLife Stadium on Sunday.
“It’s not embarrassing at all,” Manning said. “I would never use that word. There are a lot of professional football players in that locker room who put a lot of hard work and effort into being here and into playing in that game. The word ‘embarrassing’ is an insulting word, to tell you the truth.”
Similarly, Denver coach John Fox reacted strongly when asked what he would say to anyone who would question Manning’s greatness in light of a postseason record that fell to 11-12 and a Super Bowl record that fell to 1-2
“I can’t really say it out loud right here,” Fox said. “I’d get in trouble. ‘Ludicrous’ would be proper English.”
Both coach and quarterback admitted the Broncos weren’t at their best on Sunday. But both preferred to credit the Seahawks.
“I think we played a great football team,” Manning said. “We needed to play really well in order to win, and we didn’t come anywhere close to that. We weren’t sharp offensively from the very get-go.”
Denver fell behind on the first play from scrimmage, when center Manny Ramirez didn’t hear Manning’s cadence correctly and snapped the ball over his head for a safety.
The Broncos went three-and-out on their second possession, and Seattle followed with a field goal.
Manning was picked off on Denver’s next two possessions. The first, by Kam Chancellor, set up Seattle’s first touchdown. The second, by Malcolm Smith, was returned for a touchdown. Just that quickly, the Broncos were down 22-0 in the second quarter.
“They have an excellent defense,” Manning said. “Certainly to get behind and give them the lead played into their hands. That’s what they do to a lot of teams. … We got behind early and never could make a run to catch up.”
Manning completed 34 of 49 passes for 280 yards a touchdown and two interceptions, good for a quarterback rating of 73.5. The completions marked a Super Bowl record.
“I told him he had a great season, a record-breaking season,” Fox said. “And he just came up a little short tonight.”
Manning won his NFL-record fifth most valuable player award after a season he set NFL single-season record with 5,477 passing yards and 55 touchdown passes while directing and offense that scored a league-record 606 points.
However, against the Seahawks defense, the only thing separating Denver from becoming the first Super Bowl team to be shut out was a 14-yard pass to Demaryius Thomas on the final play of the third quarter.
“It’s just one of those nights,” said John Elway, the Broncos’ former star quarterback who is now executive vice president of football operations. “I give the credit to the defensive side, but we just can’t make the mistakes that we made, especially against a good football team. … You’re not going to beat a really good football team if you turn it over four times. (Manning) had a tremendous year. He’ll use this and hopefully learn from this, and we’re going to go at it again next year.
Manning, 37, was thinking the same way. He already had ruled out retirement – win or lose. He repeated thatSunday, saying that he and the Broncos would try to channel the disappointment of this defeat into a happier end to their 2014 season.
“I think this team used last year’s playoff loss to fuel us,” Manning said. “I thought it made us a better team this year. And hopefully we can use this to fuel us this off-season into next season as well.”