This Super Bowl has plenty of talking points
Maybe Marshawn Lynch got it right.
Perhaps the stubbornly silent Seattle Seahawks running back, who donned sunglasses, pulled his ball cap low and frustrated reporters by saying next to nothing all week, actually made an astute statement about Sunday’s matchup with the New England Patriots at University of Phoenix Stadium.
After all, these Super Bowl XLIX story lines speak for themselves:
• The Seahawks are looking to become the first franchise to repeat as Super Bowl champions in a decade. The last team to do it? The Patriots, in 2003 and ’04.
• This game pits two of the NFL’s brilliant defensive coaches, Seattle’s Pete Carroll and New England’s Bill Belichick. At least publicly, the two reside at the opposite ends of the enthusiasm spectrum, with Carroll ready to jump out of his skin, and Belichick receding into his hoodie.
But there’s more. Carroll coached the Patriots from 1997 to ’99, before his tremendous run at USC. He was fired in New England, and the man who replaced him was Belichick.
This week, Carroll said Patriots owner Robert Kraft “really was a good partner to work with back in the day. He gave me an opportunity that I will always be grateful for. He also sent me out the door too, and I remember that.”
• Sunday’s game will be played on the same field where the 2007 Patriots saw their perfect season go poof. They brought an 18-0 record into that game against the New York Giants, and left trying to come to grips with a shocking 17-14 defeat.
“I think over the years we’ve gotten some tough losses, and obviously we made it in ’07 and ’11, those were challenging games,” said New England quarterback Tom Brady, referring to consecutive Super Bowl losses to the Giants. “They came down to the wire and we lost.
“I don’t think those things discouraged me at all. They just reemphasized how hard and challenging it is to get to this point, and how challenging it is to win this game.”
• Here’s to unheralded quarterbacks. Seattle’s Russell Wilson was a third-round pick, and Brady was a sixth-round afterthought. Now, Brady is about to start his sixth Super Bowl — more than any other quarterback in NFL history — and is one ring away from tying San Francisco’s Joe Montana, his boyhood idol, and Pittsburgh’s Terry Bradshaw with four.
“He’s the best,” Patriots defensive tackle Vince Wilfork said of Brady. “That’s my opinion. Everybody has an opinion. I think he’s the best, and I’m glad he’s my teammate.”
Should they wind up lifting back-to-back Lombardi Trophies, the Seahawks will have knocked off two of the greatest passers in league history on the biggest stage: Peyton Manning and Brady.
• While the Seahawks sing the praises of the 12th Man — the legions of fans who make Seattle games locomotive loud when opposing offenses are on the field — the Patriots spent the week trying to avoid talk about another 12: the minimum 121/2 pounds to which a football must be properly inflated.
The NFL is investigating whether New England played with improperly deflated footballs — ones easier to throw and catch — in its 45-7 blowout of Indianapolis in the AFC championship game.
• Both of these teams overcame slow starts this season, with the Patriots falling to 2-2 a month into the season, and the Seahawks riding a roller coaster to 3-3. Both found their grooves, obviously, and this game marks the second consecutive season the two No. 1 seeds advanced to the Super Bowl.
“I think sometimes you have to look in the mirror and face it,” Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett said of righting the ship. “Sometimes you are ugly. You have to look in the mirror and say, ‘Damn, I’m ugly.’ Sometimes, we looked in the mirror and it was like, ‘Man, we do have some stuff we can improve on,’ even though everybody thinks we don’t.”
• On one side there’s New England’s Darrelle Revis, and on the other, Seattle’s Richard Sherman. Now, which one is the NFL’s best cornerback? That question won’t be answered by this game, but the Super Bowl certainly will be kindling to fuel the debate.
“Obviously, as corners and elite corners, there’s a certain respect level and admiration because you understand what it takes to play this position at a high level, and how fragile the praise is,” Sherman said. “You give up one pass for 10 yards and they say the world’s over. You get two interceptions in a game and they say that’s what you’re supposed to do. That’s just what comes with the territory.”
• This Super Bowl also pits two body-bashing titans, ones whose collisions could move a seismic needle — New England’s Rob Gronkowski, a 6-foot-6, 265-pound tight end, and Seattle’s Kam Chancellor, a 6-3, 232-pound safety with a library of huge hits that have fans rewinding their DVRs and reliving them frame by frame.
Like all these angles, that one was discussed and dissected and debated over and over this week.
On Thursday, Seattle linebacker Bruce Irvin was asked about Gronkowski for roughly the 1,000th time.
“We’ve told y'all everything that we can tell y'all,” he said to the reporters gathered around him. “It’s Gronkowski. What else do you want me to tell you?”
Sunday’s game will speak for itself.
Follow Sam Farmer on Twitter @LATimesfarmer
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