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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Peyton Manning's eyes got wide as the ball zipped past his helmet and into the end zone.

Manning spent the past two weeks trying to envision and work through every possible scenario that he and his Denver Broncos could face in the Super Bowl against the Seattle Seahawks. It's hard to believe that even once Manning imagined not being able to catch the game's opening snap.

Yet just 12 seconds into Super Bowl XLVIII, before Manning had thrown a pass or handed off to a running back, the Broncos trailed 2-0. For a team that scored 606 points in the regular season, 2-0 hardly seemed insurmountable. Neither did 5-0, or 8-0, nor maybe even 22-0 at halftime - not when Manning could remind his teammates about that time they rallied from down 24-0 to the San Diego Chargers in 2012.

But it was just mistake after mistake after mistake, so many errors, by so many Broncos, that the first snap and safety will be remembered as just the first bad moment in a night filled with them for Denver in the 43-8 loss.

Still, the bad snap was the moment that seemed to change so much for Manning, who on Saturday night received his fifth NFL MVP award.

Suddenly, the quarterback who had been so upbeat in the days leading up to the Super Bowl, telling jokes and stories, reflecting on his career-altering neck surgeries and deflecting talk about potential retirement, was rattled, and his brilliant 2013 season, perhaps the best of his brilliant career, ended with his worst game since signing with the Broncos last year.

"We knew they were fast, it was still a matter of us doing our jobs better and we didn't do that tonight," Manning said.

And it didn't happen from the beginning. Seattle fans roared as Manning lined up for the opening snap of his third Super Bowl. It was so loud that it felt like a road game, yet the Broncos were trying to operate using Manning's cadence rather than a silent snap count.

"We weren't able to. I thought I heard him, and I snapped the ball," Ramirez said. "I was shocked. You never expect anything like that to happen. Of course I'll take full blame for that."

But it was just mistake after mistake after mistake, so many errors, by so many Broncos, that the first snap and safety will be remembered as just the first bad moment in a night filled with them for Denver, which lost 43-8.

"They came out right from the jump and punched us around. Anytime you have a team out there that punches you around, you have to punch back. it seemed like the harder we fought, the quicker we failed," Broncos cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie told USA TODAY Sports. "It was like we were in quicksand out there."

The first snap seemed to change so much for Manning, who on Saturday night received his fifth NFL MVP award. Suddenly, the quarterback who had been so upbeat in the days leading up to the Super Bowl, telling jokes and stories, reflecting on his career-altering neck surgeries and deflecting talk about potential retirement, was rattled, and his brilliant 2013 season, perhaps the best of his brilliant career, ended with his worst game since signing with the Broncos last year.

Manning also threw two first-half interceptions, including one that was returned 69 yards for a Seattle touchdown, failed to lead the Broncos to a first down in the first quarter, and lost a fumble in the second half. Both interceptions came on poorly thrown passes - off-target wobblers Manning tossed with Seattle defenders in his face or batting at his arm.

"Certainly to finish this way is very disappointing," Manning said. "It is not an easy pill to swallow, but eventually, you have to."

Those mistakes were Manning's, but he wasn't the only Bronco to falter. Two days after Broncos head coach John Fox said in his final pre-Super Bowl news conference that the "star players have to be great in championship games," few of the Broncos who were so special in leading Denver to its first Super Bowl appearance in 15 years played well.

Seattle, much like it was when the Seahawks blew out the Broncos in a preseason game in August, were the aggressors. Broncos cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, the only Denver defensive player who had played in a prior Super Bowl, only shook his head when asked how to explain such a blowout.

Rodgers-Cromartie said he believed that a team that had already survived - and even thrived - despite the loss of five defensive starters, as well as All-Pro left tackle Ryan Clady, and spent a month without their head coach while he recovered from heart surgery, would be able to overcome Seattle's hot start.

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