Seattle recorded only one sack, by defensive end Chris Clemons, but Manning (34-for-49, 280 yards, one touchdown) was challenged -- beleaguered, really -- throughout.
"There's a reason they were No. 1 [in defense] for the season," Denver head coach John Fox said. "Give them credit. They had a lot to do with it. In other cases, it was self-inflicted."
For Smith, 24, the two best games of his life came back to back. He said he owes it to Seattle head coach Pete Carroll, who got to know him while recruiting Steve Smith and later brought the younger Smith to USC in 2006.
The last defensive MVP? If you guessed Tampa Bay Buccaneers safety Dexter Jackson, 11 years ago against the Oakland Raiders, then you win. Interestingly, the Raiders were the No. 1 offense that season.
Malcolm Smith joins a group of defensive MVPs that also includes Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis, Dallas Cowboys cornerback Larry Brown, Chicago Bears defensive end Richard Dent, Dallas defensive linemen Randy White and Harvey Martin, Miami Dolphins safety Jake Scott and Dallas linebacker Chuck Howley.
"We didn't mind talking about the Broncos offense during the week," Seattle linebacker Bobby Wagner said. "Because after the game, we knew we'd be talking about Seattle's defense."