EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Embarrassed was not the word for Peyton Manning.
"I'll never use that word," Manning said during his post-game news conference on Sunday night, when it was time to try explaining just what went wrong during the debacle that was Super Bowl XLVIII.
"The word 'embarrassing' is an insulting word, to tell you the truth."
Sometimes, it's a matter of perception.
BREAKTHROUGH: Seahawks shackle Broncos to capture first title
HEARTBREAKER: Peyton and Co. can't recover from early mistakes
The biggest insult might have been reflected by the final score.
Seattle 43, Denver 8.
What a fine time for Manning – rolling with the highest-scoring offense in NFL history – to have his worst game of the year.
With a championship on the line and more than 100 million viewers, Manning went Least Mode.
The first snap of the game whizzed past Manning as he attempted to switch the play at the line of scrimmage, and when Knowshon Moreno covered in the end zone for a safety, the Seattle Seahawks had a quick lead, two-zip, 12 seconds into the game.
You may have imagined that Manning could be involved in the fastest opening score in Super Bowl history, but not quite like that. His center, Manny Ramirez, jumped the shotgun snap.
AS PLANNED: Seahawks win it all just the way they drew it up
INSTANT REACTION: Quick takeaways from Seattle's victory
Chalk one up for the 12th Man.
It was the noise. Ramirez couldn't hear Manning's cadence as he barked signals.
He thought he heard something and snapped the ball.
"None of us heard the snap count," Ramirez said. "I thought I did."
What an omen.
On Saturday night, it was officially revealed (finally) at a glitzy, made-for-TV NFL event, that Manning won his record fifth MVP award.
On Sunday night, he was treated like a scrub by the NFL's best defense.
Did someone mention ducks?
The first pick, late in the first quarter, was a wobbly throw over the middle that lost its way and fluttered over Julius Thomas' head. It landed softly into the hands of safety Kam Chancellor.
The next interception, late in the second quarter, was caused by speed-rushing Cliff Avril, who crashed into Manning as the pocket collapsed. The ball floated to Malcolm Smith – the same linebacker whose deflected pickoff in the end zone sealed the NFC title game victory against the San Francisco 49ers -- who ran it back 69 yards for the 22-zip lead.
It was the longest interception return for a touchdown in a Super Bowl since Tracy Porter's 74-yard runback late in the fourth quarter of Super Bowl XLIV, which sealed the New Orleans Saints victory.
Manning was the quarterback for that pick-six, too.
Time for a quick legacy check. The facts are rather cruel. Manning has more regular-season MVP awards than anyone in history, and in 2013 passed for more TDs (55) and yards (5,477) in a season than anyone in history. And he owns dozens of other records.
Manning still ranks as one of the greatest quarterbacks ever.
He can try again next year to become the first quarterback to win Super Bowls with two franchises.
VALIDATION: Championship confirms Pete Carroll's methods
But at the moment, Manning has a losing career postseason record (11-12) and a 1-2 Super Bowl mark. And he can't reverse the historical trend that mandates that great defenses manhandle great offenses and their marquee quarterbacks.
On Sunday night, he made the mistakes that the kid quarterback on the other side didn't.
Manning committed three turnovers – the two picks and a fumble – while second-year Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson had a flawless, turnover-free night.
Wilson posted a 123.1 passer rating, compared to Manning's subpar 73.5 rating.
But the stats weren't half as bad as the reality of the outcome.
"I don't know if you ever really get over it," Manning said. "It's a difficult pill to swallow."
The importance of that was underscored during Super Bowl XLVIII.
A legacy isn't determined by one game alone.
And in Manning's case, a deflating moment isn't all on the quarterback, either.
VIDEO: Manning on first-play blunder
Broncos Quarterback Peyton Manning describes what happened on the first play when the ball zipped by his head. VPC
It should be duly noted that he had plenty of help with the Broncos' meltdown.
Or as tight end Julius Thomas put it, it would be wrong to point the finger at Manning.
"By no means are we blaming him," Thomas said. "Peyton's the reason we're here."
The Broncos' offensive line didn't allow its first sack of the postseason until the final four minutes of the Super Bowl.
Sometimes, statistics lie.
Manning was pestered all night long, moved off of that precious spot in the pocket by guys like Avril and Chris Clemons. He was forced into errors and bad throws, the timing disrupted in a bad way.
It was a night to remember, that's for sure.
Manning set a Super Bowl record against the Seahawks for completions in a game. And his favored target, Demaryius Thomas set a Super Bowl record for receptions in a game.
But sometimes, the statistics lie.
And at the worst time.
PHOTOS: SUPER BOWL XLVIII HIGHLIGHTS