EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Paul Allen didn't quite believe what he was seeing, no matter how many plays the Seattle Seahawks made and how hard general manager John Schneider excitedly pounded on him in the owner's box Sunday night.
Like most everyone else, Allen was waiting for the response that never came from the Denver Broncos, whose destruction was so thorough at the hands of the Seahawks in Super Bowl XLVIII it was hard not to think about the possibility Seattle is set up to do it again.
"I'm someone that's kind of notorious for thinking ahead," Allen told USA TODAY Sports in the Seahawks' locker room after the 43-8 thrashing was complete at MetLife Stadium. "So, I've already started to talk to John about getting back."
Had the Broncos won, discussion would've centered on whether 37-year-old quarterback Peyton Manning would end his career on a high note. Instead, it was the young Seahawks talking about just getting started.
"How much further can this team go?" cornerback Richard Sherman said. "Well, I mean, there isn't much further than Super Bowl champion. But we can do it again."
So many of the Seahawks who came up with big plays Sunday – Kam Chancellor, Malcolm Smith, Percy Harvin, Russell Wilson, Cliff Avril, Byron Maxwell, Jermaine Kearse, Doug Baldwin – are ages 27 and under.
Coach Pete Carroll made sure "that frickin' trophy" got hoisted in the postgame breakdown, but the parting words were "1, 2, 3, WHAT'S NEXT?" as if the Seahawks still haven't accomplished anything yet.
"If it was like baseball with no salary cap, then we would be like the Yankees," cornerback Walter Thurmond said, "just hording guys and really creating a dynasty."
Allen, the understated Microsoft co-founder, would have plenty of money to write the checks. The reality is the Seahawks will have to make some hard decisions to keep their young core together – not that anyone was thinking too hard about that Sunday night.
On one side of the locker room, running back Marshawn Lynch celebrated with a one-man dance party. On the other, Thurmond kept asking why there was no champagne. Special teamer Heath Farwell kept saying the words "world champs" as he made his way through the media horde.
Sherman smiled and hugged everyone he could find before making a high-speed dash for the bus on crutches, a badly sprained right ankle not enough to keep him from enjoying the moment.
"Six months ago, I told one of the football guys I had a dream about a football game last night, and the guy said, 'What? You don't dream about football every night?'" Allen said.
"You dream about these moments, but to be in the actuality of them, that's a whole other thing, and I'm still kind of floating on air and just so happy for everybody in this room and all the fans back in Seattle."
At the Seahawks' headquarters of the past week, The Westin Jersey City Newport, a few dozen fans lingered as players walked through a cold drizzle to white limos, ready to party the night away in Manhattan.
Other players and staff members headed upstairs, where green and blue lights flashed, the walls were covered in images of the Vince Lombardi Trophy and Allen's band opened for Seattle brethren Macklemore and Ryan Lewis.
"Coach Carroll, he wants everyone to stay up all night," Thurmond said. "So, hey, coach's orders …"
It has been a decade since the New England Patriots won the first of their consecutive Super Bowls. The only other team in the past 20 years to win two in a row was the Broncos, whose quarterback then, John Elway, watched the newly anointed MVP come unglued Sunday.
Schneider left the locker room quietly with his wife, Traci, and a plastic bag of "Super Bowl champs" shirts and jerseys slung over his shoulder. His work was done for now, though in the back of his mind, he surely knew the price for his young studs had just gone up, again.
"Everybody watches what you do, just like they do in software," Allen said. "Then they try to copy the things that work and see if they can do that, too, or look at different free-agent players and see if they can get them on their team.
"The parity in the NFL is pretty unique. So, to get to this point, you have to do so many things right. I hope people realize that."