But Seattle's 40-10 preseason win over the Broncos at a raucous CenturyLink Field Aug. 17 exacted a toll, although not so much from the Seahawks themselves as from injuries. That was the night the Broncos lost
The Seahawks hit hard, often, and blind-sided the Broncos with explosive plays in all three phases, with quarterback Russell Wilson racking up a 141.3 quarterback rating. That, and their predilection for forcing Broncos fumbles -- three of them in the first half -- is why Seattle led 33-7 at halftime in spite of being outgained, 209 yards to 173.
Seattle's aggressive defense helped them lead the league in yardage allowed, passing yardage allowed
It is on games like Sunday's that the Broncos will focus their preparation. There is little use looking back to the last time the teams played a game that counted: a 31-14 Broncos win on Sept. 19, 2010 that seems like ancient history.
Pete Carroll was in his second game as Seahawks head coach; he and general manager John Schneider had only begun the task of overhauling Seattle's then-aging roster. The Broncos' administrative overhaul was still four traumatic months away.
The Broncos have played 67 games since that day; the Seahawks have played 68. Just nine Seahawks who played that day remain on their roster; the Broncos' total is 11.
It was notable for being the game in which
The teams have only played once every four years since the Seahawks moved from the AFC West to the NFC West in 2002, ending a 25-season rivalry that included some massive games, including a Broncos wild-card loss at Seattle in 1983 and a Broncos win at Seattle in the regular-season finale a year later that gave Denver its first AFC West title in six years.
This sort of Super Bowl reunion is rare. This will be the seventh Super Bowl played between teams that were in the same division at some point in the Super Bowl era (1966-present). The others are:
- Super Bowls X, XIII and XXX between the Steelers and Cowboys, who were in the NFL's Eastern Division in 1966;
- Super Bowl XXXVII, between the Buccaneers and Raiders, who were in the AFC West in 1976;
- Super Bowl XLI, between the Colts and Bears, who were in the NFL's Western Division in 1966;
- Super Bowl XLIII, between the Steelers and Cardinals, who were in the NFL's Eastern Division in 1966 and the Century Division from 1967-69.
The Groundhog Day showdown may not have revenge as a factor, but it possesses enough history to stoke memories that could easily be re-ignited among fans with long memories.