ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- **The confetti hadn't even been swept off the field and the luster of the Lamar Hunt Trophy radiating in the late-afternoon sun was still fresh in their minds, but as the Broncos headed to the locker room following their 26-16 win over the Patriots in the AFC Championship Game, Head Coach John Fox noted that his team retained the same determination that has driven them all the way to Super Bowl XLVIII.
There's still unfinished business ahead for this team.
"I think we were pretty good even in the locker room after the game," Fox said during his Monday press conference. "I think this group has been pretty focused. They've responded well and I don't anticipate that changing moving forward."
Awaiting them on the sport's grandest stage are the NFC Champions, a Seahawks team that finished with an identical 13-3 regular-season record to the Broncos – and a Seattle squad that defeated New Orleans 23-15 in the Divisional Round and then knocked off San Francisco 23-17 in last night's NFC Championship Game to advance to the Super Bowl.
"I know they're a great football team," Fox said. "I think Pete Carroll and his staff have done a terrific job. They've been the one seed all through the NFC for at least the last six-to-eight weeks. I know they got after us pretty good when we were out there in the preseason."
That meeting took place over five months ago – a 40-10 Seahawks victory at CenturyLink Field in Seattle in the second preseason game of 2013 for both teams. And while that surely seems like an eternity ago for both teams after a long road of regular-season and postseason football, Fox noted that there is still something that can be gleamed from the teams' preseason game.
"I think you take something away from every experience," Fox said. "It'll be something we look at and I'm sure they look at. We've got plenty of time to look at a lot of tape – there is a full season of tape out there on both teams."
No matter which tape the Broncos reference, one thing remains certain – playing the Seahawks with a World Championship on the line will ensure for a physical contest.
"It's the Super Bowl, so it's going to be tough," tight end Julius Thomas said. "Nothing is going to come easy. I'm pretty sure you're going to see two teams playing as physical as possible. This is for all the marbles, so I'm pretty sure it will be a tough game all around."
The Broncos and Seahawks allowed nearly identical point totals in their two playoff games – with Denver conceding 33 points and Seattle 32. Seattle finished the regular season with the NFL's top-ranked scoring defense, conceding just 14.4 points per game and 273.6 yards per game – including a league-best 172.0 passing yards per game – with part of that success attributed to the presence of two-time All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman.
"Well I think his length, he's got great instincts," Fox said. "He's been operating at a pretty high level for some time, which consistency is part of being a great player. Those are some characteristics I guess."
"He's an All-Pro cornerback, first and foremost," Thomas added. "He's done a great job ever since he's been in this league."
On the other side of the ball, the Seahawks feature a running back who instantly popped into linebacker Danny Trevathan's mind the moment he found out Denver would be playing Seattle.
"Marshawn Lynch," Trevathan said. "That was the first person that came to mind. I grew up watching him. I played running back a little bit so I grew up watching him a little bit. I see the way their offense – they're athletic all around the board. If they get the running game going, they can really get going."
Lynch helped drive the Seahawks to becoming the NFL's fourth-most potent rushing attack in the regular season with 136.8 yards per game, and the 215-pound runner was in full-force on Sunday, rushing for 109 yards and a 40-yard touchdown.
Through the air, the Seahawks also feature second-year quarterback Russell Wilson, whose 102.7 passer rating in the regular season ranked seventh in the league – and whose 35-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Jermaine Kearse in the fourth quarter of Sunday's game proved to be the decisive score.
No matter where the Broncos look, they're in for a challenge on all sides of the ball – and that's something Trevathan noted his team will look to prepare for.
"We've got to be prepared for this. This is a powerhouse," Trevathan said. "Their defense is live, their offense is live. They can get going anytime. We've got to prepare for everything. It's going to be a good Super Bowl."