ENGLEWOOD, Colo. – The Denver Broncos weren’t going to start thinking about potential opponents in the midst of their celebration. After Sunday’s 26-16 victory over the New England Patriots, the Broncos players and coaches wanted to bask in their accomplishment rather than fret over the future.
Ask any of them, the response was the same. They didn’t care if they played the Seahawks or the 49ers in Super Bowl XLVIII.
“It really doesn’t matter,” wide receiver Demaryius Thomas said. “You know both teams are good.”
It wasn’t political correctness, it was sheer disinterest.
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“Nope, don’t care,” said defensive tackle Terrance Knighton.
Coach John Fox planned to have a glass of wine and watch the NFC Championship Game with his coaches. Players had celebrations planned with families or each other. Some weren’t even going to watch.
On Monday, the euphoria faded and the reality of having an opponent — the Seahawks — had become their focus.
Fox was still in the preliminary stages of breaking down the Seahawks’ game film, compiling a game plan and dealing with logistics for the Super Bowl. But he had some quick impressions.
“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 No. 1 seed all through the NFC for at least the last six, eight weeks. I know they got after us pretty good when we were out there in the preseason. We haven’t dug into them too in-depth yet, but any time you reach a championship game — the world championship game — I think usually the opponent is pretty good.”
That exhibition game on Aug. 18 at CenturyLink Field was anything but close. The Seahawks dominated, scoring 33 points in the first half in a 40-10 win. Brandon Browner returned a fumble 106 yards for a touchdown and Jermaine Kearse returned a kickoff 107 yards for a score.
But can Fox really take anything away from an exhibition game where Peyton Manning played just five series?
“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.”
Fox isn’t a stranger to this stage. He coached the Carolina Panthers to the 2003 Super Bowl. He understands the distractions that come with it.
“There is a lot of noise on the outside,” he said. “You try to just stay focused on what we’re doing in preparation on the inside. There is no doubt this is the noisiest one, I know from my experience.”
Richard Sherman’s now infamous postgame interview with Erin Andrews after the NFC title game could be construed as “noise.” It’s been the talk of the sports world and even outside of it. Fox had to know he’d be asked about it. He didn’t have much to say.
“It’s hard for me to comment on something I’m not familiar with,” Fox said. “I know he is a terrific player, a great cover guy. Like I said, we did see him in the preseason. He’s a talented player. I really can’t comment on much other than that.”
Fox did comment on what makes Sherman so good.
“I think his length,” he said. “He’s got great instincts. He’s been operating at a pretty high level for some time — consistency is part of being a great player.”
Fox didn’t have any other specifics on the Seahawks’ secondary. The matchup between the Broncos’ passing attack vs. the unit self-dubbed “The Legion of Boom” will be discussed endlessly in the next two weeks.
“I haven’t had a chance to dig in to them quite as much,” he said. “I know they are statistically very good on defense and, in particular, pass defense. I’m sure their secondary has a lot to do with that.”
Broncos tight end Julius Thomas was equally complimentary of Sherman.
“He’s an all-pro cornerback, first and foremost,” Thomas said. “He’s done a great job ever since he’s been in this league. He likes to have a little bit of fun out there; I don’t necessarily think there is anything wrong with that.”
Sherman and his antics didn’t come to the mind of linebacker Danny Trevathan. The Broncos’ leading tackler had other thoughts.
“Marshawn Lynch,” Trevathan said. “That was the first person that came to mind. I played running back a little bit so I grew up watching him a little bit.”
Still, Trevathan knows the Seahawks are more than just Lynch on offense or Richard Sherman on defense.
“They’re athletic all around the board,” he said. “If they get the running game going, they can really get going. They play within their scheme. They play with the people that they have. They use them to their strengths. We’ve got to be prepared for this. This is a powerhouse. They can get going any time. We’ve got to prepare for everything. It’s going to be a good Super Bowl.”
Ryan Divish: 206-464-2373 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter: @RyanDivish