By Ben Eagle
February 05, 2014

Seattle Seahawks appear on cover of Sports Illustrated after Super Bowl XLVIII (Walter Iooss Jr./SI)

After dropping the boom on Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII, Seattle Seahawks defenders Michael Bennett and Brandon Mebane appear on the cover of Sports Illustrated to commemorate Seattle's first NFL title.

“This was Seattle’s first championship since they joined the league as an expansion franchise in 1976," writes senior writer S.L. Price in this week's cover story. "Before their run to the Super Bowl in 2006 [an XL loss to the Steelers], they had gone a record 21 years without a playoff win, and until this season always seemed a step behind their rivals in San Francisco. But the unique identity created in 2010 by owner Paul Allen, GM John Schneider and coach Pete Carroll -- brainy, upbeat and tough -- proved perfect for transforming unheralded talent into a smart and singularly fierce outfit.”

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That outfit limited one of the greatest offenses of all time to just eight points and 306 yards, flustering Manning all day.

"Pressed by Seattle’s relentless frontline, Manning never lost the harried, confused look of those first moments [when the Broncos gave up a safety]; the game once expected to be a career topper soon became a potential legacy mangler," Price writes. "The outcome was hardly a shock for the 82,529 folks bellowing in the relative, yes, warmth of MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., but the margin and manner surely were."

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