Jan 28, 2014; Newark, NJ, USA; Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning speaks to the media during Media Day for Super Bowl XLVIII at Prudential Center. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports
JERSEY CITY, N.J. - All the hype and waiting is over. It's been two weeks since the Denver Broncos last played a game, and Sunday will be their biggest game ever.
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For the first time in 15 years, and seventh time in franchise history, the Broncos are in the NFL championship, playing the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLVIII.
Coming off an NFL-record season, Peyton Manning has a chance to win his second NFL championship in three tries and further secure his legacy as one of the greatest quarterbacks in league history.
But fans will be treated to the most is the matchup of the league's top offense against the top defense. It is the fifth time in Super Bowl history the league's best offense and best defense have faced each other; the defense has the edge 3-1.
"They are a smart defense. They communicate well," said Manning, who was named the league's MVP for a record fifth time Saturday night. " They do a good job pre-snap and post-snap ... Their intelligence, their ability to play together and communicate - that shows up just on the game film alone. I certainly know that will carry over when you actually get to play against them. You are playing against a smart, athletic defense."
Manning and the Broncos set records this season for points (606), yards passing (5,477) and total offense (457.3 yards per game). The Seahawks led the league in points allowed (14.4), pass defense (172.0 yards per game) and total defense (273.6).
Known as the "Legion of Boom," the Seattle secondary of Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor and Byron Maxwell have been compliment by a defensive line grounded by ends Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett.
"We want to go out there and perform just like (Manning) wants to go out there and perform, and I think these are the two best teams in the NFL and the best quarterback in maybe NFL history," said Sherman, who had a league-best eight interceptions in the regular season. "It's going to be a tremendous challenge for both sides, and I think that's what makes the game so big. That's what makes the game so fun.
"It's going to be great for the fans, great for the NFL because you do have the best teams and some of the best players in the world going after each other."
The Broncos set another NFL record with five players - Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker and Wes Welker, Julius Thomas and Knowshon Moreno - scored at least 10 touchdowns. The previous best was three players at 10-plus TDs.
It's all of those options that has given Manning the outlets when he's getting pressured.
Seattle coach Pete Carroll said the key will be putting Manning on the run. He was sacked just 18 times in the regular season and was not sacked in the two playoff wins already.
"We need to move him. We need to get him off the spot so he has to move, so he has to adjust," Carroll said. "When he's in rhythm and solidly in the pocket - which he is a great majority of the time - then you're really dealing with the best he has to offer. He can move. He has a great sense of the pocket. He understands that we know that it will be more effective if we get him to move. We'll try to get him out of there as much as we can."
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