Amidst all the talk all week about deflated footballs and whether or not Seattle Seahawks’ running back Marshawn Lynch should talk to the media or not, is the simple fact that there is still a game to be played. And not just any game, the Super Bowl. Not even just any Super Bowl. This year’s edition, the 49th in NFL history, has all the flash and superstardom that the fans want to see.
Super Bowl XLIX, to be played this Sunday, February 2, boasts arguably the best defense in NFL history going head-to-head against arguably the best quarterback-head coach tandem in the history of the league. You might even say that this matchup may be one of the best Super Bowl matchups of recent history.
Of course, we all thought the same thing last year. The vaunted Seattle Seahawks and their great defense were squaring up with the high-powered Denver Broncos offense led by future first ballot Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning. We all know what followed.
However, this matchup has somewhat of a different feel to it. In some ways, the Seahawks and their counterpart Sunday, the New England Patriots, are very similar in ways in which the Broncos of last year were not.
For all the talk of how dominant the Seattle defense has been, New England’s defense, particularly their secondary, has been flying under the radar. The Patriots have shut down top quarterbacks (Andrew Luck, twice, Peyton Manning, etc.) and top wide receivers like Calvin Johnson all season long.
Oh, and this Patriots team is hungry. It has been shown in their play all season long, going back to that Monday night in late September where the team was embarrassed. That seems like years ago now, and the Patriots have been playing with a fire in their bellies ever since after what was made out to be a world-crashing loss.
Remember, it is easy to forget that the New England Patriots have not been the best team in football for a decade now. For all the legacy talk of Tom Brady and Bill Belichick and their three Super Bowl titles, there have been even more disappointing than happy endings in New England in the last 10 years. For a team that has made the playoffs nine of the last ten years, and has not had to play on wild card weekend of the postseason since the 2009 season, the Patriots have come up short often.
For Seattle, it is more about creating a dynasty than it is about saving or sustaining one. The Seahawks are the first team to appear in back-to-back Super Bowls since New England did it in 2003 and 2004. Quarterback Russell Wilson is looking to win his second title in just his third year in the league.
If you think about it, the mere fact that these two teams are playing each other on Sunday is a miracle in and of itself. If not for an ill-advised lob pass here and a dropped onside kick there, we could be talking about the Packers and Ravens in the Super Bowl, not about how much air pressure was in a football.
So pick your storyline. Can Brady and Belichick get that elusive fourth ring? Which secondary outshines the other? The “Legion of Boom,” or the one led by Darrelle Revis? Can Wilson finally jump into that category of elite quarterbacks?
We cannot forget about the coaching matchup in this game either. Two mastermind head coaches with completely different mantras on the sideline who will do anything to win, going up against one another. And Pete Carroll coaching against the man who replaced him after his failure in New England all these years later.
The bottom line is that this game presents so many intriguing storylines for us to be focused on what Lynch said on media day or how footballs can be underinflated. This could be one of the greatest Super Bowls in NFL history to date. Let’s not miss out on it because of our desire to know what happened to 11 footballs.
Billy Peterson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org