EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — The Denver Broncos, so fortunate to be down only two scores, finally rediscovered their offensive rhythm and seemed on the verge of getting back in the Super Bowl.
Instead, it was the Seattle defense scoring, and the Seahawks pulling away.
Trailing 15-0, the Broncos faced third-and-13 at the Seattle 35 with just over 3½ minutes left in the first half. Cliff Avril beat tackle Orlando Franklin and struck Manning's arm as he was releasing the ball, sending it wobbling through the air.
Malcolm Smith was easily able to step in front of Knowshon Moreno for the interception. At 6-feet, 226 pounds, the linebacker outran the Broncos for a 69-yard return for a touchdown.
Smith dunked the ball over the upright in celebration, and Seattle led 22-0.