New England Patriots cornerback Brandon Browner didn’t get his Super Bowl with the Seattle Seahawks last season, but now he’ll get one against them.
Browner played with the Seahawks from 2011-13. However, he was suspended late last season for violation of the league’s drug rules and didn’t play in Seattle’s, 43-8, Super Bowl win over Denver.
In March, he signed with the Patriots as an unrestricted free agent, although still ineligible for the first four games of this season. Once free to play, he moved into the New England lineup and ended the season with nine starts, 25 tackles, six passes defended and one interception.
On Sunday, after watching the Seahawks rallied past Green Bay for the NFC championship, Browner started at right corner as the Patriots took the AFC championship with a 45-7 pounding of the Indianapolis Colts.
The winners will meet in Super Bowl XLIX on Feb. 1 at Glendale, Arizona.
“It means a lot,” Browner said. “I missed the one last year. I’m fortunate to be back in that thing the following year with a good football team. And the bond that I’ve built with these guys is like the bond that I built with them guys (in Seattle) for the last three years. It’s a good feeling.”
This will be Browner’s first Super Bowl appearance, but not his first championship game. He was part of the Calgary Stampeders’ CFL Grey Cup champions in 2008. That was after he had been signed and released by the Denver Broncos in 2006, and before he joined the Seahawks in 2011.
There, as an original member of the Legion of Boom, he tied a Seattle record with interceptions in four consecutive games, set a club single-season record with 220 return yards, and was named to the Pro Bowl.
However, after starting all 16 games in 2011, Browner’s playing time decreased to 12 games in 2012 and eight in 2013. The Seahawks let him go after that season, but allowed him to participate in the team’s Super Bowl victory celebrations. He owns a Seahawks’ Super Bowl ring and said there are no hard feelings.
“Those are like my brothers over there,” he said. “Those are my best friends over there. But I’m trying to win. I’m headhunting.”
Browner said he foresaw this Super Bowl pairing from the day he switched teams.
“It’s crazy, man,” he said. “I really had that vision when I signed here — hopefully meeting up with my old boys — and it worked up that way.”
It almost didn’t. With the Patriots playing in the evening, Browner was able to keep an eye on the Seahawks’ NFC Championship Game and wondered if his old team could advance after falling behind Green Bay, 16-0.
“I didn’t think they were going to make it,” he said. “But it’s inevitable. I envisioned us two at the end of the day, and that’s what it panned out to be.”
The Patriots had a much easier time, taking a 7-0 lead in the first five minutes and leading to the final wire.
Browner and the Patriots secondary did their part, holding Indianapolis quarterback Andrew Luck to 12 completions in 33 attempts for 126 yards, with interceptions from cornerback Darrelle Revis and linebacker Jamie Collins.
“We were ready,” Browner said. “Blood in the water; blood in the water. I had fun today, man, it sank in when we were up 24-7, I was kind of like, ‘Man, we’ve got these boys.’ ”
Now that the Super Bowl pairing is set, Browner doubts that he has a lot of secrets about his former team that will do his current team much good.
“I’d say a little bit but very minimal,” he said. “Those guys over there, they’re not champions for no reason. They’re going to draw up a game plan; they’re going to have things for me. They know my weaknesses. I’ll be ready for those guys, just like they’ll be ready for me.”
In a question that will likely be repeated may times along the way to Feb. 1, he was asked which team has the better secondary.
“Whoever win that game,” he said. “Right or wrong? What you think? Whoever win that game, we have bragging rights.”