In a game that called to mind the franchise's first four trips to the big game, the Broncos' record-shattering offense opened with a safety, gave the ball away another four times, and mustered up just one late and meaningless touchdown.
The game also bore a resemblance to the 40-10 result of the teams' preseason meeting, when the Seahawks used turnovers and big plays to romp.
As they had in that exhibition matchup, Seattle scored once a long kick return and another time on a long defensive return, and the game was similarly over at halftime.
It will be said and written time and again that a great defense still trumps a great offense, and this game did nothing to disprove that maxim.
For Denver, the mistakes and injuries that littered their otherwise stellar season finally caught up to them in a big way, not to mention running into what is likely a better, more well-rounded squad.
From here, the attention will turn to whether Peyton Manning will return for 2014, the team's many pending unrestricted free agents, their rising stars due extensions, and getting back the pile of players currently on IR.
Seattle won the coin toss and deferred, leaving Denver to field the opening kickoff, which Trindon Holliday brought out to the 14.
Disaster struck immediately, as the first-down snap from Manny Ramirez sailed past a surprised Peyton Manning, with Knowshon Moreno covering the ball in the end zone for a safety.
Things only got worse from there.
Following Britton Colquitt’s free kick, a 30-yard end around by Percy Harvin brought Seattle into FG range. Russell Wilson nearly converted a subsequent 3rd-and-6 along the sideline, but after a replay challenge, was ruled just short of the line to gain.
Interestingly, Pete Carroll opted to kick, and Seattle went up 5-0 on Steven Hauschka’s 31-yarder.
With a chance to stem the Seahawks’ hot start, Denver gained just eight yards on three plays, and an atrocious 29-yard punt by the overpaid Colquitt gave Seattle the ball at their 28.
From there, Seattle converted three big third downs to gain a goal-to-go situation.
But a holding penalty on Max Unger kicked the Seahawks back to the Denver 16.
John Fox wasted a challenge hoping a forward pass by Wilson would be ruled a lateral and fumble, and Hauschka put Seattle up 8-0 with a 33-yard kick.
The vaunted Seahawks defense really asserted itself on the next series, hitting Wes Welker hard after a five-yard reception, forcing a fumble by Knowshon Moreno (recovered by Zane Beadles), and pressuring Manning into a poor throw, which was intercepted by Kam Chancellor at the 39.
Another big run by Harvin gained 15 yards, and a pass interference in the end zone by Tony Carter on a third down gave Seattle a fresh set of downs from the one.
Two plays later, Marshawn Lynch punched it in, and Seattle had a commanding 15-0 lead.
A second poor return by Holliday started Denver at their 16,
Denver would pick up four first downs and reach the Seattle 32, but a tripping foul on Beadles kicked them back 10 yards.
On 3rd-and-13, Orlando Franklin was pwned by Cliff Avril, who caused Manning’s throw to flutter into the arms of game MVP and linebacker Malcolm Smith, who went unchallenged by Moreno and returned the pass 69 yards for a 22-0 Seahawks lead.
Denver mounted a 48-yard, 9-play drive before half, but turned it over on downs. The series included a terrible non-call of Earl Thomas interfering with Julius Thomas near the goal line. Makeup call for SB 40? We’ll likely never know.
To start the second half, Matt Prater kicked what appeared to be an intentional popup, but Harvin fielded the ball and promptly returned it 87 yards to give the Seahawks an insurmountable 29-point lead.
Although the Broncos crafted another time-consuming drive, John Fox made the most John Foxiest of decisions, punting from the plus-39 on a 4th-and-11 while down 29 points, with the most prolific offense in NFL history.
In all honesty, the unconscionable choice played no role in the game’s outcome. But it does call into question whether Fox has any nerve whatsoever.
It will be fascinating to see him explain such a decision, if and when he’s asked.
Still, it got worse from there.
Denver did force Seattle into its first punt of the game, but Demaryius Thomas fumbled three plays later, allowing Byron Maxwell to easily punch the ball out.
Six plays and several missed tackles later, Jermain Kearse scored on a 23-yard catch-and-run, making the score 36-0.
The Broncos finally managed to dab some lipstick on the pig, with a six-play, 80-yard drive, capped by a 14-yard throw from Manning to Demaryius Thomas.
For Thomas, it was his 12th reception of the night, a SB record.
Wes Welker caught the two-point try, and the Broncos were on the scoreboard at 36-8.
Another slew of missed Denver tackles helped Seattle tack on another touchdown, this one a 10-yard catch-and-run by Doug Baldwin for a 43-8 tally.
The teams exchanged possessions that ended on downs, and then Manning was stripped of the ball by Chris Clemons inside of four minutes to play.
Moments later, Seattle had its first SB championship, while Denver had its fifth loss - the most of any franchise in NFL history.
Kieran Darcy grades the Broncos' performance, and obviously, it's not pretty.
If you can bear to look, here are some horrifying numbers from the loss.