SEATTLE -- You can't get revenge this week, so forget about it.
That does not mean that Sunday's rematch of Super Bowl XLVIII between the Broncos and Seattle Seahawks does not have heft. As far as September games go, it's as big as they come.
But it's not the Super Bowl. No jewelry is at stake.
"It's not revenge," said defensive tackle Terrance Knighton. "They won the game and we moved on from it.
"There's things we're going to take from last year and the Super Bowl, but ultimately, we're past that and we're just ready for Sunday."
But at the same time, Knighton admits thinking about the 43-8 loss "almost every day." He's not the only one, either.
"That's what's fueled us to practice extremely harder for the OTAs, which allowed for us to be 2-0," said running back Montee Ball. "I think everyone kind of has a bad taste in their mouth, wishing they had done something better. For, me, personally, it probably would have been capitalizing on opportunities when they presented themselves, and I didn't."
As important as the result Sunday will be proper management of its aftermath. You don't want to become too overconfident with a win; you have to avoid being despondent after defeat. Meandering too far in either direction could cause damage, because of a looming five-game post-bye stretch that includes Arizona, San Francisco, San Diego and New England.
In the 60 minutes they have, and the days beyond, the Broncos must remember: it's just one game, and they must play within themselves.
"We're not making this a revenge game or payback and all that, because we don't want players to try to play outside their shoes," Ball said.
"If everyone does what they're expected to do, what everyone expects for them to do -- protect the football, small details, fundamentals, all that, we'll come out with the win."
Here are three keys to making that happen:
- CONTAIN THE FRONT FOUR.**
Defensive ends Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril can wreak havoc from the edge, but the defensive tackles, led by Brandon Mebane, are capable of dismantling the pocket from inside, as well. At minimum, the tackles often occupy three blockers, forcing one-on-one matchups on the flanks. Tackles Ryan Clady and Chris Clark must hold off Bennett and Avril enough to give Peyton Manning time to find receivers downfield. But the Broncos must also use screen passes and the ground game to force Avril and Bennett to hold their ground. A diverse offense will limit their chances to charge at the pocket.
2. WATCH HARVIN, BUT DON'T FORGET ABOUT EVERYONE ELSE.
Although the jet and fly sweeps of Harvin are a focal point, the Seahawks can use an opponent's focus on these plays to their advantage. Marshawn Lynch's per-carry average is 1.4 yards above his 2013 total, in part due to the attention that Harvin has drawn. Lynch remains as capable of controlling a game as he was last year and the year before, and the Broncos don't want to sacrifice too much of their interior run defense in order to contain Harvin on the outside.
3. PROTECT THE FOOTBALL.
Offensive Coordinator Adam Gase made this a point of emphasis this week, describing ball security as "the No. 1 goal" for his offense.
"I think against these guys you better stay away from the perfect play," Gase said. "[We] better come out and execute our game plan, don't turn the ball over and get positive plays. These guys feed off turnovers."
The Seahawks don't so much force turnovers as cause poor decisions that lead to them: pressure forcing a hurried throw, for example. A throwaway, a two-yard run up the middle, a 3-yard reception with no yardage after the catch -- these plays aren't going to sink the Broncos. But giveaways can.