So it's on.
At least in Denver, that is.
"They beat us bad in the Super Bowl. They think they have the pedigree, they talked noise all offseason. That's what we've been waiting for," Broncos wide receiver Andre Caldwell told USA TODAY on Sunday, talking of course about the Seahawks.
Caldwell was speaking after his team beat Kansas City 24-17 in Denver -- and after the Broncos learned the Seahawks, who crushed them in February's Super Bowl by 35 points, had lost at San Diego.
Once Denver (2-0) and Seattle (1-1) kickoff this Sunday at 1:25 p.m. at CenturyLink Field, what happened seven-plus months ago in the Meadowlands will be as worthless as an empty IV bag. But from now until then, it gives everyone else something to talk about and use for motivations -- including, apparently, the Broncos.
"It's straight Seahawks," Denver cornerback Chris Harris told USA Today when thinking about the week ahead. "Man, I'm so ready for this week."
In Seattle? The Seahawks have nothing to avenge. They won the Super Bowl.
Put another way: They aren't looking for revenge from last month's exhibition opener.
Seattle coach Pete Carroll noted yesterday how the Broncos have been so stung by the Super Bowl that they were loaded for redemption in early August -- for the first exhibition game.
That Aug. 7 night in Mile High Land, you may remember, Denver blitzed safeties and corners, stunted defensive linemen and went at Seattle like it was, well, this Sunday for real at CenturyLink. It was a startling display of intricacy for a preseason opener, considering it counted for absolutely nothing. Heck, the Seahawks left more than a dozen veterans, including Marshawn Lynch and several starters on the offensive and defensive lines, back home for that "game."
"I thought obviously it would be an important preseason game for them," Carroll said, 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 are off today -- they are past the Super Bowl. They more focused on the here and now of rebounding for just their sixth loss in 31 games. The revenge/avenge/continued-dominance factors from the Super Bowl seem non-existent within the team. The talk in the locker room Sunday after the loss in San Diego was about how big a test it will be against Denver and Manning. I didn't hear a single reference to last season's Super Bowl.
Besides, as I wrote in today's News Tribune, the Seahawks have a few items to improve upon that trump any artificial or 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 against them. 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.
"Definitely, we are not accustomed to losing," safety Kam Chancellor said Sunday. "That's one thing we always talk about, winning. ... That's what we do here.
"We've just got to get better and ... fix the corrections and get better."
--It may help the Seahawks that's supposed to be, oh, 40 or so degrees cooler on their home field Sunday than it was in that broiler last weekend in San Diego.
I've seen the comments on here wondering why the Seahawks weren't more prepared for the heat they knew was coming. It's a fair question, and one I had asked Carroll last Friday in Renton. When I asked following the walkthrough practice that day about the expected temperatures in San Diego of 90 degrees-plus and what steps the team was taking, if any, to prepare the coach responded the players had already been hydrating more than usual all last week. On Monday the coach alluded to several players having received intravenous fluids before the Chargers game, specifying that Richard Sherman did. Sherman and Bobby Wagner were the only two defenders to play all 75 snaps against the Chargers.
The Union Tribune in San Diego reported many Chargers took IV fluids before the game. Only one, left tackle King Dunlap, left the game with cramps.
"What am I going to do? It’s hot on their side as well," Carroll said Monday. "There’s nothing that you can do but hydrate really well during the week, which we did that. We were well ahead of that. We had a lot of guys that were given the fluids before hand and at halftime to deal with it. When you lose your juice, you lose it so you have to replace it so I’m sure they had to do the same thing. But there’s not much you can do so you go play the game.
"It does have an affect somewhat if you’re really fighting to hold onto your juice and your energy then you can make some mistakes and there was some of that. We saw some of that. There were some things that were a little bit uncharacteristic."
--TNT columnist Dave Boling writes in today's paper how Carroll's "Tell the Truth Monday" told facts that went beyond the heat. He also discusses Sherman refusing to talk following the loss in San Diego.
--My former Associated Press NFL colleague Barry Wilner wrote yesterday that the league and its players' union were close to ratifying the new NFL drug policy that was tentatively agreed upon last week.
Why are the Seahawks watching to see when that ratification happens? It will determine whether suspended Wes Welker, Manning's top target on third downs, plays for the Broncos Sunday.
"One key element is how the changes affect players currently under suspension, including Denver receiver Wes Welker (four games) and Browns receiver Josh Gordon (entire season). Their bans would be reduced, and the union wants to see that happen before Week 3 games are played," Wilner wrote in yesterday's AP story.
"Welker was suspended for amphetamine use in the offseason, but punishment for that is being switched from the performance enhancers policy to the substance abuse program — except for in-season violations."