The Broncos began talking about how eager they’ve been to play the Seahawks even before they were out of the uniforms they wore in their last game.
Denver talked last Sunday minutes after its win over Kansas City of revenge, of redemption, of every other R-word that means “We are still ticked for what they did to us seven months ago in the Super Bowl.”
The Seahawks? Their R-word right now is “regroup.”
Multiple players talked after Sunday’s defeat in San Diego about being unfamiliar with losing. They mentioned, more than once, the need to fix the issues on defense against a short, quick passing game that controlled and eventually overwhelmed them in San Diego. Of needing to keep the ball longer on offense.
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Of everything, that is, but the most recent Super Bowl.
Sunday’s rematch between the Seahawks (1-1) and Broncos (2-0) at CenturyLink Field is only the sixth time the two Super Bowl foes have faced each other in the following regular season — and the first time since Oct. 27, 1997, when Green Bay beat New England 10 months after the Packers had beaten Patriots in Super Bowl XXXI.
The Super Bowl winners are 3-2 in such regular-season rematches.
The Seahawks aren’t expecting that to become 3-3 on Sunday.
“Definitely, we are not accustomed to losing,” safety Kam Chancellor said Sunday in the sweltering visitors’ locker room in San Diego following Seattle’s 30-21 defeat, just its sixth loss in 31 games. “That’s one thing we always talk about — winning. … That’s what we do here.
“We’ve just got to get better … fix the corrections and get better.”
A few minutes earlier on Sunday afternoon, a time zone away in Denver, the Broncos were already talking about the Seahawks minutes after their 24-17 win over Kansas City.
“They beat us bad in the Super Bowl,” Broncos wide receiver Andre Caldwell told USA Today. “They think they have the pedigree, they talked noise all offseason. That’s what we’ve been waiting for.”
So it’s on — at least in Denver.
Sure, each team has already studied the X’s and O’s of what happened in the Super Bowl and prepared wrinkles and surprises for this one. But once this game begins what happened seven-plus months ago in the Meadowlands will be as meaningless to this week’s outcome as a heat wave in San Diego.
Until then, it gives everyone in Denver something to talk about and use for motivation — including, apparently, the Broncos themselves.
“It’s straight Seahawks,” Denver cornerback Chris Harris told USA Today on Sunday after its game with the Chiefs. “Man, I’m so ready for this week.”
Broncos coach John Fox said Monday: “I think everybody is probably excited — as well as they should be.”
In Seattle? The Seahawks have nothing to avenge. They won the Super Bowl.
They aren’t looking for revenge from last month’s exhibition opener.
Seattle coach Pete Carroll noted Monday how the Broncos were loaded for redemption — in early August. For the first exhibition game.
On Aug. 7 in Denver, the Broncos blitzed safeties and corners, stunted defensive linemen on crosses and went at Seattle like it was, well, this Sunday for real at CenturyLink Field. It was a noticeable display of intricacy for a preseason opener.
Conversely, the Seahawks felt so indifferently about that “rematch” that they left more than a dozen veterans, including Marshawn Lynch and several starters on the offensive and defensive lines, back home from that “game.”
“I thought obviously it would be an important preseason game for them,” Carroll said Monday, deadpanning a bit. “We played against them in the preseason and I thought they played a good football game and they wanted to get rid of the feeling. And I don’t blame them one bit, that’s what everyone would do.
“I’m sure this is a really important game to them again, as it is to us. I think it was something going on for them in the preseason. Yeah, I think it was a big deal for them. And I don’t blame them one bit.”
For the Seahawks, whose players were off Tuesday, they are more focused on the here and now of rebounding from their first loss in 267 days. The talk in the locker room Sunday in San Diego was about how big a test it will be against Denver and specifically Manning, and not last season’s Super Bowl.
Besides, the Seahawks have a few items to improve upon that trump any artificial, external motivations this week — namely, stopping the same style of offense that just beat them. And this week they are facing a better quarterback than Philip Rivers, who was brilliant in San Diego last weekend. They are facing one of the all-time best.
The pass rush needs to effect Manning like it did in the Super Bowl — and more than it did while getting into the backfield but to little effect against Rivers. The secondary needs to be tighter on receivers in zone and man coverages and much quicker to the ball than they were in San Diego, more like they usually are. Denver will again throw it quickly and often on short routes in front of coverages.
It should help the Seahawks’ defense that the expected temperature on the field for Sunday’s game, though warm for Seattle in the mid-80s, won’t be the 120 degrees it was on the field in San Diego.
And the Seattle offense that looked so prolific and fast all summer and in the 36-16 romp past Green Bay in the opener two weeks ago needs more than the 40 snaps it got in San Diego. It needs to use Percy Harvin and Marshawn Lynch far more and to give the defense more than a few plays’ rest before each test against Manning.
“We dropped the ball (in San Diego). We had our defense out there way too long, much longer than we should have had them out there,” left tackle Russell Okung said.
Then he used the R-word that is theme to this Seahawks week. And is not “redemption.”
“We just have to go back,” Okung said, “and regroup.”