Denver Broncos' Peyton Manning is hit by Seattle Seahawks' Cliff Avril (56) during the first half of the NFL Super Bowl XLVIII football game on Feb. 2, 2014, in East Rutherford, N.J. Photograph by Charlie Riedel/AP Photo
Denver Broncos' Peyton Manning is hit by Seattle Seahawks' Cliff Avril (56) during the first half of the NFL Super Bowl XLVIII football game on Feb. 2, 2014, in East Rutherford, N.J. Photograph by Charlie Riedel/AP Photo

The Seattle Seahawks just put up arguably the greatest defensive performance in Super Bowl history, combining throwback defense with innovative small-ball and outgunning professional football’s most prolific offense.

It’s a tired adage that defense wins championships, but last night, the Seahawks proved it to be true in their 43-8 win over the Denver Broncos, preventing Peyton Manning from gaining his footing and making the future Hall of Famer look like Rex Grossman. In a league that’s all about traditional quarterbacking and gaudy scores, it was the Seahawks’ secondary that lit up the field, forcing two interceptions and clearly intimidating Manning from going left, lest he throw in the direction of the vaunted Richard Sherman. Seattle also forced two fumbles and silenced all the doubters who dismissed this team as average.

Russell Wilson will hopefully never again have to hear about the novelty of his style, as the undersized, highly mobile quarterback played an almost flawless game, completing 18 of 25 passes for 206 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. He’s all of 25, playing on the youngest Super Bowl championship team ever, and shows no signs of stopping. It’s way too early to start throwing around the D-word, but if this is the future of football, fans in Seattle and beyond have much to look forward to.

Give me a calculated, multipronged attack over shoot-em-up football any day. The Seahawks are that perfect marriage of old-school defense and a smash-mouth ground game with what appears to be the future of quarterbacking, just now maturing from infancy. With smaller, mobile quarterbacks such as Wilson, Colin Kaepernick and Johnny Manziel, the position is opening itself up to adaptability and options. You saw the payoff on the field last night: The Seahawks managed to keep the Broncos defense guessing, adjusting their schemes and stymieing Denver with everything from Doug Baldwin to Percy Harvin.

Harvin chose the right time to get healthy, returning from a season on the sidelines to make some of the biggest plays of the game. He didn’t touch the ball all that much, but when he did, it mattered, including an 87-yard kickoff return for a touchdown to open the second half and give Seattle a 29-0 lead. And yet again, the Seahawks’ overlooked receiving corps demonstrated their league-leading efficiency, with Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse each scoring a touchdown and averaging 13.2 and 16.3 yards a reception, respectively.

It was as complete a team effort as any coach could have hoped for, led by the electrifying Legion of Boom secondary and the quiet poise of a sophomore quarterback. Both have many years ahead. The Seahawks’ style of play is a credit to the diligence and teamwork that often go unnoticed in a league that’s all about flashy plays and bright stars. Bringing a Super Bowl title to Seattle isn’t just a boon for a city that hasn’t seen a major championship since 1979 -- it’s a major boost for a sport that should remember its roots while looking ahead to the future.

(Kavitha A. Davidson is a Bloomberg View columnist who writes about sports. Follow her on Twitter at @kavithadavidson.)

To contact the writer of this article: Kavitha A. Davidson at kdavidson19@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this article: Stacey Shick at sshick@bloomberg.net.