Seahawks meet Patriots in Super Bowl rematch
Los Angeles (AFP)
The Seattle Seahawks insist they've moved on from their crushing Super Bowl loss to the Patriots two seasons ago as they head to New England on Sunday for a game that could presage this season's NFL title clash.
"Another game, regular-season game, trying to win," Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman said in sentiments echoed throughout both teams.
While the Seahawks say they've moved on, that doesn't mean they've forgotten Super Bowl 49, when Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler intercepted Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson's pass in the final seconds to seal New England's 28-24 triumph.
"It's a terrible memory," Seahawks offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said Wednesday. "Every time it comes up it just sticks in your gut."
But wide receiver Doug Baldwin said the Seahawks are "just focused on this year, 2016".
The 7-1 Patriots will provide the biggest test of that season so far. Quarterback Tom Brady has looked like a man on a mission since returning from his four-game Deflategate ban. The 39-year-old superstar comes into the contest completing 70 percent of his passes, with 12 TD throws and no interceptions in four games.
"He's on fire," said Seahawks coach Pete Carroll, whose team last clashed with the Pats in the regular season in 2012 -- and last visited Foxborough in 2004.
The Patriots will be especially well-rested coming off their bye week, while the Seahawks will be on short rest after a Monday win over Buffalo.
Seattle top the NFC West at 5-2-1, but they've had their troubles -- notably knee and ankle injuries that limited quarterback Russell Wilson and a sputtering ground game that's seen them held to less than three yards per carry in five of their eight games.
They'll be more concerned with addressing those issues than with looking back 21 months to Super Bowl 49, and Patriots coach Bill Belichick agreed.
The Patriots coach said he'd watch tape of the Super Bowl clash, and of the teams' last meeting in 2012, just to develop strategy.
"I don't think any of that really matters this week," Belichick said. "I think this game will be decided by the preparation this week and the performance of the players this week."
- Broncos try to bounce back -
In other key week-10 matchups, the Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos head to New Orleans aiming to bounce back from a defeat at Oakland last Sunday that left them trailing the Raiders and the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC West.
The Broncos, 6-3 after a 4-0 start to the season, have struggled to establish themselves early in games, falling into double-digit holes in losses to Atlanta, San Diego and Oakland.
They'll be hoping to get off to a faster start against the Saints, and relying on their top-rated pass defense to slow down prolific New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees.
Quarterbacks will be in the spotlight when rookie sensation Dak Prescott leads the Dallas Cowboys against the Steelers in Pittsburgh.
It has been almost four years since the two teams, who have made a combined 16 Super Bowl appearances and won eight championships, last clashed, Dallas emerging with a 27-24 triumph.
Although Prescott and rookie running back Ezekiel Elliott -- on pace to break Eric Dickerson's rookie mark of 1,808 rushing yards -- have the Cowboys atop the NFC East, the Steelers, with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger back for his second game since October knee surgery are slight favorites at home where they likely need a win to keep pace with Baltimore atop AFC North with the Ravens taking on winless Cleveland this week.
© 2016 AFP