RENTON, Wash. — The Denver Broncos never got to throw their championship party.
Seattle celebrated for 224 days.
That’s how much time passed between the Seahawks winning Super Bowl 48 by crushing Denver until suffering their first defeat last Sunday against San Diego.
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The 1972 Miami Dolphins can now cross another contender to their perfect season off the list. But when it comes to confidence heading into Sunday’s Super Bowl rematch, the Seahawks are huffing and puffing like they’re still undefeated.
Some teams after a loss feel like they did more to beat themselves than the opposition but won’t publically express that opinion. The Seahawks lack that grace.
Start with Earl Thomas. Asked why the Seahawks fell by a 30-21 margin in San Diego, the standout free safety bluntly responded, “We gave them everything.”
Richard Sherman echoed that sentiment when proclaiming “you feel like you lost a game you shouldn’t have lost.” The star cornerback insinuated the sweltering heat at Qualcomm Stadium was a tougher foe than the Chargers because of how it physically drained a Seahawks defense that spent 42-plus minutes on the field. He also took a shot at Chargers wide receiver Keenan Allen, who proclaimed Sherman was “not really a shutdown corner” after catching four passes against him.
“That’s something he’ll tell his kids about,” Sherman said this week at Seahawks headquarters. “Remember that one game I caught a few passes on Richard Sherman? I didn’t score, but I caught a few.”
Even quarterback Russell Wilson – who is politically correct to a fault – hinted his offense’s limited production stemmed as much from a lack of opportunities than stoning from the Chargers.
“We only had like 36 or 40 plays but we still were able to put some points on the board,” Wilson said. “We’re playing great football. We just have to play a little bit better.
“To beat a team like the Chargers or especially like Denver, you really have to play championship football every play, every down.”
The Seahawks were dismissive of the Broncos following their 43-8 Super Bowl rout. Seattle head coach Pete Carroll said during his post-game news conference that “we really felt like we could knock the crud out of these guys.” Sherman took his poke in a first-person article penned for Sports Illustrated.
"Did we know we’d hold the Broncos to eight points in the Super Bowl? Honestly, we’re a little upset it wasn’t a shutout,” Sherman wrote.
But when it comes to trash-talking the Broncos this past week, the Seahawks have stayed mum so far — and with good reason. There’s no reason to throw gasoline into the caldron of emotions Denver players are already feeling in wanting to avenge their Super Bowl humiliation.
Although quarterback Peyton Manning says the Broncos are “still trying to find our identity on offense and defense,” Denver (2-0) still has a better record than Seattle (1-1) as that process unfolds. Denver’s pass defense is greatly improved with Von Miller off injured reserve and the offseason acquisitions of fellow outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware, strong safety T.J. Ward and cornerback Aqib Talib.
The offense will receive a boost Sunday with wide receiver Wes Welker being reinstated after having his four-game drug suspension truncated. It’s also hard to imagine Manning – who Wilson called “the greatest quarterback of all time” — having another outing as poor as the one he had in the Super Bowl.
“They’re terrific,” Carroll said. “Their whole system, function, tempo, style of offense, intricacies, the concepts of route running and all that – really, it’s impeccable. They give us every challenge that you could ever want.”
The Seahawks face another challenge as well: Proving they haven’t fallen into the trap of living off their past success.
Thomas said he has approached the Chargers loss as a wake-up call. He hopes teammates are doing the same.
“I definitely got my championship spirit back — my crave, my hunger and my desire to be unstoppable,” he said.
“We haven’t lost in a long time. I’m always into my work and trying to get better and I’m thinking I’m on the right path, but I guess this is the 2.0 (version).”
The upgrade would go a long way toward proving bluster from the 2014 Seahawks isn’t just hot air.