Two weeks ago, it was Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman who tipped a last-second pass to teammate Malcolm Smith that sealed the 49ers' fate in the NFC Championship Game. The storyline between then and Sunday night revolved mostly around two players: Sherman, the face of the Legion of Boom, and Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning.
The brash young defensive back out of Stanford, who now seems prophetic for pointing out Manning's penchant for throwing ducks, was supposed to parlay his NFC title game play into status as the NFL's top corner on the NFL's biggest stage.
Except that once the game started, Manning and the Broncos offense looked like it was the first day of minicamp -- a botched snap on the first series led to a safety and served as a metaphor for the rest of the night -- and Sherman had a mostly quiet evening.
And this is where you might point out that there really wasn't much for Sherman to do. Between the Denver turnovers and special teams gaffes, things were pretty much decided by halftime. Sherman left the game for good early in the fourth quarter, with the Seahawks leading 43-8. He limped to the sideline with an ankle injury and eventually made his way to the locker room on a cart.
The official announcement listed Sherman as doubtful to return, although we'd like to imagine that there would have been no way to keep him off the field if the score had been closer. Still, he finished with two tackles and a pass defended.
But this is bigger than Sherman, even if that's the narrative the media insisted on pushing. This is about that defense. It's about Kam Chancellor, who intercepted Manning in the first quarter. It's about Smith, whose pick-six late in the second quarter was one of many first-half highlights. It's about the front four abusing the Broncos offensive line all night, as well as the rest of the Legion of Boom, including safety Earl Thomas, who encapsulated what it all means after the game.
"It's all about making history," he said. "This was a dominant performance from top to bottom. You had guys (that) stepped up that you wouldn't even think (would step) up. That's what this team is all about. ... Everybody on defense played heat. This was a great win."
And that's what should concern the rest of the league: Even with Sherman hobbled, the Seahawks' D dominated.
Or as Sherman put it after the game: "The Legion of Boom, baby."
Then he added: "I hope we etch our names in the history books. This is the No. 1 offense in the history of the NFL and we were able to play a good game against them. Peyton Manning may go down as one of the greatest to ever play the game, and we're just blessed to have an opportunity to play against him. I can't believe it."
More bad news: All that talk about Russell Wilson struggling the last month and a half of the season? You wouldn't have known it to watch him carve up the Broncos secondary like he was ... well, Peyton Manning.