EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - The Seattle Seahawks sure know how to make a statement.
And Richard Sherman never had to open his mouth.
The Seahawks' defense was even nastier than advertised in winning its first Super Bowl title on Sunday night, turning two first-half interceptions of Peyton Manning into a pair of touchdowns on their way to a 43-8 rout of the Denver Broncos that nobody east of the Rockies saw coming.
Percy Harvin added an 87-yard kickoff return for a score, and Russell Wilson threw for two TDs. The Seahawks also capitalized on the first of what would be a laundry list of Denver mistakes, getting a safety on the very first play from scrimmage when the Broncos botched the snap.
This was supposed to be the game that cemented Manning's place as one of, if not the greatest, quarterbacks to play the game. The Seahawks were too young and inexperienced, and nothing epitomized that more than Sherman's rant on national TV about the San Francisco 49ers Michael Crabtree after the NFC Championship game.
Oh sure, he got his 15 minutes of fame and then some – notice who starred in one of the first commercials of the game? – but there's a lot more to winning a game than winning a war of words.
If anyone thought the Seahawks would be intimidated or unnerved at being in the center of the spotlight, however, well, they haven't been paying attention. To them, or to Carroll. Just as he did at Southern California, Carroll delights in putting the "fun" back in football – it is a game, after all -- and everyone in Seattle has responded.
His players were loose and confident all week. Seattle's "12th Man" made themselves heard above the New York din, proudly wearing their blue and green gear and shouting "SEA-HAWKS!" at every opportunity.
"It's interesting to hear so many ways to explain it -- laid back, free willy, doing whatever," Carroll said earlier this week when someone asked about Seattle's style. "We run this program with extraordinary standards in how we prepare every day, with expectations that they're going to be working their tails off every single step of every single practice. When we get in games, it's not a different situation for us.
"I don't believe that people are very good at turning things on and off when it comes to intensity," he added. "You're either on, or you're not."
And the Seahawks were most definitely on.
Wilson wasn't spectacular, continuing his maddening habit of head-shaking misses that he developed late in the season. But he was good enough, and that's all the Seahawks needed him to be with the abuse the defense was heaping on Manning and the Broncos.
The Seattle defense can't really take credit for that safety on the first play from scrimmage, unless Manning and the Broncos got flustered at seeing Sherman, Kam Chancellor and the rest of the "Legion of Boom" up close.
From then on, though, the Seahawks wreaked havoc at every turn.
The Denver offense that averaged a whopping 457.3 yards and 37.9 points a game looked more inefficient than some Pop Warner teams. They had the ball for all of 3:19 in the first quarter, and didn't get a first down until there were about 10 minutes left in the second.
By that time, Seattle was up 15-0.
The Seahawks were so disruptive they looked as if they really did have a 12th man on the field. The big guys up front clogged up the running lanes, and the "Legion of Boom" made sure Manning couldn't reach any of his favorite toys.
And any time the Broncos looked as if they were about to build some momentum, or least gain some traction, the Seahawks were there to spoil it.
Denver offensive guard Zane Beadles saved one turnover when he recovered a Knowshon Moreno fumble, only to have Chancellor pick Manning off on the next play to set up Seattle's first touchdown. It was Seahawks linebacker Malcolm Smith who had a 69-yard interception return for a score on Denver's next possession, but it was Sherman getting the last laugh.
See, Sherman once said Manning throws "ducks," weak throws, and he didn't back off when he was asked about it again this week. Manning brushed it off, but there was enough of an edge to his answer to indicate the diss bothered him.
Hey, the truth hurts. Sherman might have a mouth, but he doesn't do things for effect. When he makes a statement, he means it.
Same for the rest of the Seahawks. Manning and the Broncos have the bruises - and the bruised egos – to prove it.