It started with deafening crowd noise. The decibel levels produced by the people at Met Life Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey were so strong that no one on the Broncos could hear Peyton Manning's snap count. The result? A Broncos safety just 12 seconds into the game.
And it didn't get much better for Denver. Manning and his teammates turned it over four times (two picks, two lost fumbles) and scored just once before falling to the Seahawks in Super Bowl XLVIII, 43-8.
For Wes Welker, it was his third Super Bowl loss. He came one game away from hoisting the Lombardi Trophy in the 2007 and 2011 seasons, but both of those defeats were within reach until the final seconds.
Sunday's loss was different.
"This was embarrassing," he told reporters after the game. "No way I expected anything like this to happen."
It wasn't for a lack of trying. The Broncos were able to move the ball at times while they attempted a frantic come back from a deficit that got to as large as 36-0 near the end of the third quarter.
Welker caught eight passes for 84 yards. His teammate Demaryius Thomas caught a Super Bowl record 13 balls for 118 yards and a touchdown.
Still, turnovers killed a handful of Broncos drives while others were stopped thanks in large part to tight coverage from Seattle's vaunted secondary. Receiver Eric Decker, blanketed by Seahawks corner Richard Sherman for much of the game, finished with just one catch for six yards. Denver tight End Julius Thomas had four catches for 27 yards.
"We just didn't play very well," Welker said. "It's frustrating."
Welker's contract carries an $8 million cap hit next season, and it's unclear as to whether or not John Elway and the rest of the Denver front office will bring back the star slot receiver after he helped the team put up record-setting offensive numbers in 2013.
Whether or not he returns to the Broncos, it's impossible to know when he'll have another shot at a Super Bowl title.
He admitted this week that after the Patriots reached the Super Bowl in his first year with Tom Brady and Bill Belichick, he assumed the team would make it all the time. It was four more years before he was back. Six years later, he still doesn't have his ring.
Welker will be 33 years old at the start of next season.
"It can be a cruel game sometimes," Welker said. "You just gotta roll with it."