Time will decide its overall greatness, but in an era with the NFL tilting toward offense and every owner in search of the next offensive coaching genius, Seattle proved that defense still wins championships.
"All those people that like to say defense wins championships can go ahead and gloat for a little while," Carroll said, "because it sure turned out that way."
The Seahawks, in truth, won in all phases. Their offense accounted for 27 points and zero turnovers as second-year quarterback Russell Wilson ran a steady ship. The Seattle special teams chipped in as well, when Percy Harvin scooted 87 yards for a kick-return touchdown.
But the Legion of Boom, led by cornerbacks Richard Sherman and Byron Maxwell, and safeties Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor, will ultimately be credited with giving the Seahawks their first Super Bowl title in the 37 years of the franchise.
"The Legion of Boom, baby," Sherman said. "I hope we etched our names in the history books. This is the No. 1 offense in the history of the NFL, and we were able to play a good game against them."
The Seahawks lost in their only other Super Bowl appearance - a 21-10 defeat to the Steelers in 2005. But they are now the 19th franchise to win a Lombardi Trophy. Thirteen teams remain that have not won a Super Bowl, including the Eagles.
After a historic regular season, Manning once again fell short of winning his second Super Bowl. The Broncos quarterback was hounded by questions all week about his legacy and how a victory would cement his place alongside the other greats - or how a loss would tarnish his resumé.
But Manning ran into a buzz saw. His final numbers were gaudy - 34 of 49 passes completed for 280 yards and a touchdown - but he averaged only 5.7 yards per attempt, tossed two interceptions, and fumbled once.
"I worked hard to get to this point, overcame a lot of obstacles to be here . . . did some really good things just to have this opportunity," Manning said. "But certainly to finish this way is very disappointing. It's not an easy pill to swallow, but eventually you have to."
The 37-year-old, who said he wanted to return next year for a 17th NFL season, was hardly the lone reason that Denver laid an egg. The Broncos allowed a safety on the first play from scrimmage, lost two of four fumbles, and committed untimely penalties.
The Broncos have lost in five Super Bowls, more than any other franchise. They last won titles in 1997 and 1998 with John Elway. Now the Broncos vice president of football operations, Elway was trying to become the first Super Bowl-winning quarterback to also win as an executive.
Carroll and Broncos coach John Fox had failed to win championships in previous NFL stops, but they took advantage of opportunities. In Carroll's case, he won on his third try. Fired by the New York Jets after one season in 1994 and by the New England Patriots in 1999 after three seasons, he returned to the NFL in 2010 after nine seasons of coaching Southern California.
Harvin, who was acquired in the offseason in a trade with the Minnesota Vikings, missed all but one game during the regular season with a hip injury. He then suffered a concussion in a divisional playoff game and sat out the NFC championship game the following week.
But he returned for the Super Bowl and was a weapon from the get-go. He ran 30 yards on a fly sweep on the Seahawks' second offensive play, 15 yards on the same play a quarter later, and returned the opening kick of the second half for a touchdown.
Harvin took a pooch kickoff on one bounce, danced away from tacklers, and zoomed up the middle and into the end zone, giving Seattle a comfortable 29-0 margin.
The Seahawks went into the half with a 22-0 lead, the second largest in Super Bowl history. In 1989, Denver was on the bottom of the largest halftime lead - a 29-0 deficit to the 49ers.
The first quarter was a nightmare for the Broncos. The offense ran seven plays for only 11 yards and had a safety and an interception. The Seahawks, meanwhile, gained 148 yards and had an advantage in time of possession - 11 minutes, 41 seconds to 3:19.
The safety occurred on the first play from scrimmage. Broncos center Manny Ramirez snapped the ball just as Manning stepped closer to the line from the shotgun. The ball whizzed by the quarterback and into the end zone. Seattle's two points in 12 seconds were the fastest ever to be scored in the Super Bowl.
The Seahawks settled for two field goals when they drove into Denver territory after the ensuing free kick and after the Broncos went three and out a series later. But they capitalized on Manning's first interception - an overthrown duck picked off by Chancellor - and scored a touchdown when Marshawn Lynch eked out 1 yard for a touchdown early in the second quarter.
Down by 15-0, the Broncos finally picked up a first down with 10:30 left before the half. They managed a few more on the drive, but a tripping penalty on guard Zane Beadles pushed Denver out of field-goal range.
Faced with third and long a few plays later, Manning was clobbered by defensive end Cliff Avril just as he threw. The ball floated in the air, and Smith pulled it in and dashed 69 untouched yards the other way for a touchdown.
Seconds it took for the Seahawks to record a safety, the fastest score in Super Bowl history.
Coaches to win an NCAA title and a Super Bowl (Jimmy Johnson, Barry Switzer, Pete Carroll).
Largest Super Bowl margin (49ers 55, Broncos 10, 1990).