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Percy Harvin (11) of the Seattle Seahawks returns the opening kick of the second half for a touchdown against the Denver Broncos during Super Bowl XLVIII at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., on Sunday, Feb. 2, 2014. (Lionel Hahn/Abaca Press/MCT)

Seahawks' 12th Man rejoices

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The blue and green confetti fell, and the 12th Man sang.

But long before that, Deb Hindman cried.

The Bothell resident watched from MetLife Stadium as the Seattle Seahawks won their first Super Bowl title, in no uncertain fashion, routing the Denver Broncos, 43-8.

For Hindman, the victory was especially climactic after years of missed championship opportunities at home and away.

She learned Sunday that tears of joy taste a whole lot sweeter than tears of heartbreak.

"I'm speechless," she said after the game, choking back tears and trying her best to muster a voice. "It means everything."

Hindman was in Detroit in 2006 when the Seahawks lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers. It was their first Super Bowl appearance.

She was in Atlanta last season when an apparent trip to the NFC Championship Game was ripped away in the final seconds of the divisional playoff contest.

Hindman has traveled to playoff games in Green Bay and Chicago, and regular season games in several other cities on both coasts.

Nothing compared to Sunday night.

"To have this now," she said before pausing, struggling to find words. "It's huge. It's big."

Despite her cautious optimism, Hindman's tears started rolling after the Hawks scored a safety in the first quarter -- the fastest a team has scored in Super Bowl history.

She said she knew all season that this was the Hawks' year, but any shred of doubt evaporated in the second quarter when the best scoring offense in NFL history remained scoreless.

After years of letdowns, as she calls them, Hindman never gave up faith in her team.

"I knew it just takes one game to be the best in the world," she said. "This is that game."

Hindman wasn't the only one unable to contain emotions, and even the first-timers were elated.

Seahawks fans poured out of the gates chanting, crying and screaming.

Jeff Stiles, a Marine stationed in North Carolina, grew up in Sultan.

He brought the same 12th Man flag to the game that he took to Afghanistan last year.

"It still hasn't sunk in yet," he said of the win. "I got emotional there in the fourth quarter."

The lifelong fan said he has always represented his team around the world, and looks forward to continuing that tradition for his world champions.

Nick Harrington has also been a fan from the beginning. He said Sunday's game, his first trip to a Super Bowl, was a once in a lifetime experience.

"It's pretty surreal," he said. "Almost too hard to believe."

At the two-minute warning, aerial views of MetLife Stadium showed very little orange.

Broncos fans started dissipating, but Hindman said many were happy for the 12th Man.

She said she sympathizes with Broncos fans because she has been in their shoes much too often.

"Peyton (Manning) had a bad day," Hindman said. "The whole team had a bad day."

Hindman knew the Broncos quarterback had the potential to deliver yet another letdown for the Seahawks. She was nervous, but having a "young and hungry" team in her corner was enough to keep believing.

Looking ahead, Hindman hopes Sunday's win is "the start of a dynasty." But it affirmed what she knew from the beginning of this season and before that.

"This was a season where it was meant to be," she said. Now, "Everybody's a 12."

(c)2014 The News Tribune (Tacoma, Wash.)

Visit The News Tribune (Tacoma, Wash.) at www.TheNewsTribune.com

Distributed by MCT Information Services

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