The Seattle Seahawks won their first Super Bowl title Sunday, crushing the favored Denver Broncos 43-8.
Seahawks Linebacker Malcolm Smith returned an interception off Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning 69 yards for a touchdown late in the first half of the game, and wide receiver Percy Harvin returned the opening kickoff of the second half 87 yards for another touchdown.
The Seahawks led 36-0 before Denver finally scored on the last play of the third quarter.
Manning was 34 of 49 for 280 yards, but most of that came after Seattle had all but put the game away. He was flustered by Seattle's fierce defense for most of the first half, throwing two interceptions.
The second fluttered into Smith's hands after teammate Cliff Avril struck the five-time NFL MVP's arm as he was releasing the ball.
Second-year quarterback Russell Wilson was coolly efficient for the Seahawks, throwing for two touchdowns.
In Seattle after the game, fans blared horns and launched fireworks in celebration of the city's first major sports championship in more than 30 years.
Fire crews extinguished at least one bonfire as rowdy fans were out in force.
In some neighborhoods fans blocked traffic, and downtown a line of cars stretched for blocks as cheers rang out amid a cacophony of horns.
About 30 people watched the game at the Outlander Brewery in Seattle's Fremont neighborhood. It was such a blowout that by the fourth quarter, employees had switched one of the three TVs to Animal Planet's "Puppy Bowl."
"We're all in euphoria right now," said Steve McVay, a 43-year-old Seattle IT worker. "It's a huge deal for the city. Since the Sonics we haven't won anything." The Seattle SuperSonics beat the Washington Bullets to win the NBA title in 1979 – Seattle’s last major sports championship before Sunday night.
John Caro and his wife, Corina, both 59, whooped their way down Lake City Way in North Seattle, high-fiving passersby.
"I was born here, I was raised here! This is my ultimate dream!" Caro shouted. "We have waited so freakin' long for this!"
With that, they stepped across the street, with Caro waving his gray Seahawks conference championship hat to stop the traffic.
Less exciting than Seattle's long-awaited win were long delays leaving MetLife Stadium, the game’s venue in New Jersey.
Organizers had dubbed the game the first mass-transit Super Bowl, and spent considerable effort urging fans to take trains or buses to the stadium. The message apparently took hold, as nearly 28,000 rode the rails from nearby Secaucus Junction. That far surpassed New Jersey Transit's previous record of 22,000 riders in 2009 for a U2 concert, and nearly doubled optimistic pre-game estimates of 15,000.
After Sunday's game, fans converged on the rail station for the return trip, clogging the platform as trains loaded and left when full.
A spokesman for NJ Transit told The Associated Press early Monday that nearly 25,000 passengers had been moved to Secaucus by midnight, two hours after the game, and that overall it was a "tremendous success," considering the volume of passengers transported without accident or incident.
When the last train cleared the platform at 12:45 a.m., 32,900 people had been transported by rail and more than 1,100 others taken by bus to Port Authority, a transit spokesman said.
New Jersey State Police urged fans via Twitter to "enjoy the stadium atmosphere until congestion dissipates."
Seattle natives Jeff Chapman, 40, and his childhood friend Willie Whitmore, 39, were caught up in the delay and anxious to get home.
"This is a joke," griped Chapman, an engineer. "We're not even from here and we could've told you this would've happened."
"What do you expect when you don't give people any other option to get home," said Whitmore, a project manager. "It's ridiculous."
Al Jazeera and wire services