NEW YORK: Denver’s Peyton Manning is hoping to cap a record-setting season with a historic victory in Sunday’s Super Bowl 48 over a Seattle squad determined to spoil his dreams of a fairytale moment.
The Broncos’ star 37-year-old quarterback set National Football League season records with 5,477 passing yards and 55 passing touchdowns, sparking Denver to a record 606 points and meaning they go into the weekend action as slight favorites.
“He has built this unbelievable legacy and he is one of the best — if not the best — quarterbacks to ever play the game,” Seattle’s Russell Wilson said of his opposite number.
The Seahawks counter with the NFL’s top-rated defense—the self-styled “Legion of Boom” —which forced a league-leading 39 turnovers, and a balanced attack powered by running back Marshawn Lynch and run-pass threat Wilson.
“He’s at the top of the menu,” said massive Denver defensive tackle Terrance “Pot Roast” Knighton, referring to Wilson ahead of the United States’ biggest sporting spectacle, which is expected to be watched by more than 110 million television viewers in the US alone.
The showdown at the 80,000 MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, will be the first outdoor Super Bowl in a cold-weather city and it is set to be the coldest, with temperatures forecast to dip below the Super Bowl record 39 degrees Fahrenheit (four degrees Celsius) from 1972.
Both teams went an impressive 13-3 in the regular season to share the NFL’s best record. And it’s the first time the league’s top offensive and defensive units have been pitted against each other in a Super Bowl in 23 years.
Manning could become the first starting quarterback to win a Super Bowl with two different teams, having led the Indianapolis Colts to the 2007 crown. He lost with them to New Orleans in the 2010 Super Bowl.
Uncertainty after four neck operations led the Colts to cut Manning and Denver signed him in early 2012, setting the stage for him to lead the Broncos to their first Super Bowl since John Elway took Denver to titles in 1998 and 1999.