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Key Super Bowl Play: Malcolm Smith returns Peyton Manning's INT for TD

Published: Friday, Sept. 4 2015 2:38 a.m. MDT

Seattle Seahawks outside linebacker Malcolm Smith (53) reacts after running back an interception for a touchdown against the Denver Broncos during the first half of the NFL Super Bowl XLVIII football game, Sunday, Feb. 2, 2014, in East Rutherford, N.J.  (Chris O'Meara, Associated Press) Seattle Seahawks outside linebacker Malcolm Smith (53) reacts after running back an interception for a touchdown against the Denver Broncos during the first half of the NFL Super Bowl XLVIII football game, Sunday, Feb. 2, 2014, in East Rutherford, N.J. (Chris O'Meara, Associated Press)

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.

Down 15-0 with more than 5 minutes left in the first half Sunday, Peyton Manning had driven Denver 52 yards to the Seattle 32. But on first down, offensive lineman Zane Beadles was penalized for tripping, and it got worse from there. On third-and-13, the Seahawks rushed four, but two linemen got to Manning.

Chris Clemons was about to slam into the quarterback from behind, but Cliff Avril had already reached him after beating tackle Orlando Franklin. Avril struck Manning's arm as he was releasing the ball, and it wobbled through the air.

Denver Broncos' Peyton Manning is hit by Seattle Seahawks' Cliff Avril as he throws an interception during the first half of the NFL Super Bowl XLVIII football game Sunday, Feb. 2, 2014, in East Rutherford, N.J.  (Mark Humphrey, Associated Press) Denver Broncos' Peyton Manning is hit by Seattle Seahawks' Cliff Avril as he throws an interception during the first half of the NFL Super Bowl XLVIII football game Sunday, Feb. 2, 2014, in East Rutherford, N.J. (Mark Humphrey, Associated Press)

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.

It was the longest since Tracy Porter's 74-yarder late in the fourth quarter four years ago to clinch the Super Bowl title for the New Orleans Saints against the Indianapolis Colts. The quarterback he picked off? Manning.

This year's game was over much sooner.

Smith dunked the ball over the upright in celebration, and Seattle led 22-0 with 3:21 left in the half.

Manning could only shake his head on the sideline.

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