Broncos-Seahawks a Super Bowl rematch on the surface, but not among personnel
Denver comes in with a total revamped defense compared to last February
Seattle Times staff reporter
In the NFL, what’s past isn’t prologue, as Shakespeare famously wrote. It’s merely history.
Or, as Seahawks defensive lineman Michael Bennett puts it: “Every game, every week is a new week.’’
As is every season.
So while the popular media and fan narrative is that the Denver-Seattle game Sunday is a rematch of Super Bowl XLVIII, won by the Seahawks 43-8, players and coaches have insisted that the page on that chapter has been turned.
“It’s just a Week 3 matchup for us,’’ said Seattle linebacker Malcolm Smith, the MVP of the Super Bowl. “It’s a big game because it’s the next game.’’
Bennett says he knows some on the Denver side likely will play up the angle of hoping to save a little bit of face for what happened in the Super Bowl.
But Bennett says what happens Sunday won’t change what happened last February.
“There is no revenge,’’ he said. “I think they are trying to find out who they are the same way we are.’’
Indeed, while many faces remain the same for each team, some significant ones have changed — especially on the Denver side.
Denver’s starting defense could feature different players at nine positions from the lineup Seattle faced in the Super Bowl, including three high-profile free-agent signees — defensive end DeMarcus Ware, safety T.J. Ward and cornerback Aqib Talib. Other changes include players returning from injuries such as linebacker Von Miller and cornerback Chris Harris.
“It’s a totally different team defensively for us,’’ said Seattle offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell. “They’ve added really great players. … It’s a completely different defense with the players that they have now, so there’s really no comparison.’’
Denver’s offense could have five different starters from the Super Bowl, including both tackle spots, with left tackle Ryan Clady returning from injury, moving Chris Clark back to right tackle.
“Everyone gets some good guys this time of year,’’ said Seattle coach Pete Carroll, discussing the overall changes made to Denver’s lineup. “But those are real significant players to have back on your team. … They made some great decisions in the offseason and got some terrific guys coming in.’’
Seattle was able to retain the core of its team, and could start all but five of the same players who started the Super Bowl — right tackle Breno Giacomini, receiver Golden Tate, defensive tackle Clint McDonald, defensive end Chris Clemons and cornerback Walter Thurmond. Others who are gone include usual starting defensive end Red Bryant, also Seattle’s defensive captain last year.
But while Seattle’s losses might not have been great in number, they have been felt.
Certainly, Seattle’s defense last week didn’t look quite like the unit anyone has seen the past two years, allowing three touchdown passes in a 30-21 defeat against the Chargers in which San Diego held the ball for nearly 43 minutes.
That limited the Seattle offense to just 38 plays, and only 13 before falling into a 20-7 hole that forced the Seahawks to play a no-huddle offense most of the rest of the game. As a result, Marshawn Lynch had just six carries, an outcome Carroll said was “the last thing we want to have happen.’’
It’s getting redemption for that performance that has hung over the Seattle locker room more heavily than upholding the honor of the Super Bowl victory.
Carroll described the Seahawks as “really determined to get back on track.’’
It’s also important from a practical standpoint as Seattle will have its bye next week before returning to action Oct. 6 in a Monday night game at Washington. The last thing the Seahawks want to have happen is having to spend 15 days hearing about being 1-2.
“It’s big because it’s our opportunity to make up for what we did last week and try to move forward and put a good performance before the bye,’’ Smith said. “But it happens to be the Super Bowl rematch.’’
If the Broncos want to make more of it, so be it, Bennett said.
“I’m pretty sure their coaches are going to blow that (angle) up,’’ he said. “But sometimes you can mess yourself up trying to win something that’s already been won.’’
In other words, the Super Bowl is in the past, and what happens Sunday won’t change history.
Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or email@example.com