EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Just 12 seconds into the Super Bowl, the Denver Broncos were already trailing after a bizarre, clumsy sequence. It set a record — and the tone for the game.
The first play from scrimmage started out looking like any other for the Denver Broncos. There was Peyton Manning barking out his calls, but before he could even finish, center Manny Ramirez snapped the ball, which sailed past the unprepared quarterback and into the end zone. Knowshon Moreno fell on it to keep Seattle from scoring a touchdown, but it was still a safety and a 2-0 lead for the Seahawks.
The Broncos had decided to go with a cadence, Ramirez said, but it was hard to hear over the crowd noise.
"None of us heard the snap count, and I thought I did. And I snapped it," he said.
When he got back to the sideline, Ramirez learned that Manning was actually walking up toward him when the center snapped the ball.
"It's hard to have something like that happen at the beginning of the game," Ramirez said.
Manning briefly talked to Ramirez on the bench after the gaffe. Things didn't get much better for the Broncos and the lead grew to 36-0 before Denver finally scored on the last play of the third quarter in a 43-8 loss.
The safety was the fastest score in Super Bowl history. The previous record was 14 seconds on Devin Hester's return of the opening kickoff for a touchdown for the Bears in 2007 — also against Manning's team. That time, Manning soon led his Colts back into the lead, and Indianapolis beat Chicago 29-17. There was no such comeback Sunday.
This was the third straight Super Bowl with a safety. Two years, a safety also accounted for the first score of the game when New England quarterback Tom Brady was penalized for intentional grounding on a throw from the end zone in a loss to the Giants; last year, a safety produced the final points of the game in Baltimore's win over San Francisco.
0-16 TO CHAMPION: Cliff Avril now has experienced the highest of highs and the lowest of lows in pro football.
In 2008, Avril was with the Detroit Lions. That team won one fewer game all season than his current club, the Seattle Seahawks, did in just one night Sunday in the Super Bowl.
Avril signed with Seattle before this season as a free agent, and through all of the Seahawks' success — including the win over Denver for their first NFL championship — he hasn't forgotten how bad things can get.