A look at the Seahawks' opponent in Super Bowl XLIX on Feb. 1, the New England Patriots:
When: Sunday, Feb. 1, 3:30 p.m. PT, University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, Ariz.
Record: 12-4 during the regular season to win the AFC East and secure the top seed in the playoffs, where they have beaten the Baltimore Ravens 35-31 and the Indianapolis Colts 45-7.
Where They Rank: No. 11 on offense (18th rushing, 9th passing) and No. 13 on defense (9th rushing and 17th passing) during the regular season; No. 1 on offense (7th rushing, 2nd passing) and No. 5 on defense (7th rushing, 6th passing) during the postseason.
TV: NBC (channel 5 in Seattle), with Al Michaels (play-by-play), Cris Collinsworth (analyst) and Michele Tafoya (sideline).
Series: Tied 8-8 in the regular season, and the Seahawks won the last meetings – 24-23 at CenturyLink Field in 2012. This is their first meeting in the postseason.
Tom Brady.** There are certainly other stars in the Patriots' galaxy, but none who have shined as brightly and for as long as Brady has. The former sixth-round draft choice is in the process of adding yet another chapter to this Hall of Fame career. "He's the best," Patriots nose tackle Vince Wilfork said this week. "That's my opinion. Everybody has an opinion. I think he's the best, and I'm glad he's my teammate." As they always say, "The numbers don't lie." And Brady's tell the tale of just how good he has been and just how long he has been good: 53,258 passing yards, or 30 miles, during the regular season; 392 TD passes, including 50 in 2007; two-time Super Bowl MVP and three-time Super Bowl champion; 10-time Pro Bowl selection; two-time league MVP. But as with any player who has achieved his statistical and individual success, there's more to Brady than mere numbers. "He's an unbelievable person and I truly love that man," wide receiver Julian Edelman said this week. "I do. It's great to have him a part of his team."
LeGarrette Blount. This might seem like an odd choice for a back who ran for three touchdowns in the AFC Championship game on Sunday. But you have to look at where Blount came from to appreciate where he's about to go. The 250-pound Blount rejoined the Patriots on Nov. 20 after being released by the Pittsburgh Steelers. In five regular-season games with the Patriots, Blount didn't rush for more than 78 yards. Sunday, he had 148 yards and those four scores. But that's nothing compared to the distance he has traveled during his coast-to-coast-to-coast career. An all-state running back at Taylor County High School in Perry, Fla., Blount went to East Mississippi Community College before moving on to the University of Oregon. Then it was back to Tennessee as a rookie free agent, only to be released by the Titans after training camp in 2010 and claimed by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He led all rookie backs with 1,007 rushing yards in 2010, including a 164-yard performance against the Seahawks. The Patriots acquired Blount the first time in an offseason trade in 2013. Then it was off to Pittsburgh, before rejoining the Patriots.
On The Spot
Danny Amendola. When the Patriots lost Pro Bowl slot receiver Wes Welker to the Denver Broncos two years ago, Amendola was expected to fill the void. The former St. Louis Ram had 54 receptions last season, but this season Amendola has had a greater impact returning kickoffs (24.1-yard average) than in the slot (7.4-yard average on 27 receptions). It's just that not a lot of people have noticed, because Edelman has picked up where Welker left off with 92 receptions, including 49 that produced first downs. And Edelman has added 17 receptions in two postseason games.
Which team wins the turnover battle? The Patriots were plus-12 in turnover differential during the regular season to finish second in the league, while the Seahawks were fourth at plus-10. The Patriots are plus-3 in the postseason to share the lead with the Green Bay Packers, while the Seahawks are even after committing five turnovers on Sunday – and still winning.
Numbers To Know
8, Super Bowl appearances for the Patriots, tying the Dallas Cowboys and Pittsburgh Steelers for the most in league history. …7, Super Bowl appearances under the ownership of Robert Kraft, a league record for most conference titles by one owner. …3-4, Patriots' record in the Super Bowl. …20, playoff wins for Brady, the most in league history. …49, TD passes by Brady in the playoffs, also the most in league history. …0, second-half touchdowns allowed by the Patriots in their final six regular-season games. …119**, tackles by linebacker Jamie Collins to the lead the team.
CB Brandon Browner started 36 games for the Seahawks from 2011-13. DL Alan Branch started 31 games for the Seahawks in 2011 and 2012. OT Caylin Hauptman, who's on the practice squad, was with the Seahawks last season. DT Sealver Siliga was with the Seahawks during training camp in 2013. Vice president of media relations Stacey James was a PR intern with the Seahawks.
The Last Word
"They just wear you down with their relentless effort and I think that's why they're (still) playing. That's the kind of team they have. They show up and they do it on a weekly basis." – Patriots coach Bill Belichick on the Seahawks