When the Seahawks play at New England on Sunday, it will be the first meeting between the two teams since the Patriots pulled out a dramatic victory in Super Bowl XLIX. And while that game will inevitably come up this week during the television broadcast of the game and in the form of questions from the media, it's not something either team is giving much thought to, not with both sides having to prepare for a first-place opponent.
"Not at all," receiver Doug Baldwin said when asked if the Super Bowl from two seasons ago was on players' minds. "We're just focused on this year, 2016. We'll take what they've done this year on film, then obviously the coordinators history and then try to utilize that to our benefit."
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said that game is relevant this week only because it's another piece of information they can study: "We go all the way back, we played them a few years ago, too. We're studying all of that."
Patriots coach Bill Belichick was similarly uninterested in reliving a game that will forever link the two franchises, but that has little to no bearing on the outcome of Sunday's game.
"I think this game will be decided by the preparation this week and the performance of the players this week, not what happened in 2012 or 2014 or some other time," Belichick told Seattle-area reporters on a conference call.
"I don't think any of that really matters this week. The Seahawks have been in a lot of close games. We've been in a lot of close games. We know it will be tough Sunday night against Seattle, and that's what we're preparing for, so we'll just see how it all plays out."
The Seahawks aren't trying to pretend that Super Bowl XLIX didn't happen; it affected everyone involved, but they also know they can't waste time looking back this week. Whatever the team had to get past took place last year as the Seahawks overcame a slow start and, as Baldwin put it, "did a lot of soul searching. We had some opportunities for us to be divisive in the locker room and go separate ways, but we have to deal with issues head-on in the locker room, because you can't get away from them. We had our rough patches getting through that, but eventually we got through it, and it led to the success we had in the later part of the season… The locker room itself is very healthy at this point."
"We talked about it, we had an extensive conversation, and what came out of it was that we weren't going to be divisive, we were going to do it together. You win together and you lose together, and in those moments, the critics, the fans, everybody can say what they want to say, but at the end of the day, there's only the select group of people in this locker room who have to get it done, and we're going to find a way to do that together."
Offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell did concede that the Super Bowl loss was "a terrible memory," but like everyone else involved, he's looking forward, not back: "It's a new season, it's two years ago. It's something that's always there, something I've grown from, something I've learned from, but that isn't going away, it's always going to be there… But it's gone, it's in our past. We've learned from it and moved on."
Fans of the two franchises likely won't be able to avoid thinking back to Super Bowl XLIX when the Seahawks and Patriots take the field Sunday night, especially not if they're reminded of it over and over again on TV during the game, but for the players, Sunday's game is just a great matchup between two of the league's best teams.
"We don't really think about it," cornerback Richard Sherman said. "Another game, regular season game, trying to win. Super Bowl was a couple years ago, so they got new guys, we got a lot of new guys, we're just trying to win a ball game."
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