By Kimberly Jones
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As the Super Bowl quickly approaches, remember the date: December 15. Because you can be darn sure the Seattle Seahawks do.
Sure, they won, shutting out the Giants that day, 23-0, and intercepting Eli Manning five times. They also stayed at the Westin Jersey City, which serves as the NFC team headquarters next week.
That weekend represents the last time the Seahawks made a road trip, and it happened to be to MetLife Stadium. They got a good look at the stadium and their quarterback, Russell Wilson, told us on NFL Network after the game that he is a “visual guy” and that it always helps him to see the environment in which he will compete.
As it turns out, that trip to play the Giants was, indeed, a dress rehearsal for Seahawks vs. Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII. So much for not picking chalk.
Yes, the Broncos also played at MetLife Stadium, and way back then — a 41-23 win over the Giants in Week 2 — it was a safe bet that they’d be back, too. But it is the Seahawks who have immediate recall.
In fact, Wilson’s only complaint that day was there was almost no reminder of the snow that had fallen on Dec. 14. He’s never played in snow, and he wanted to. Who knows, maybe he ends up getting that wish, too.
Doppler Radar: The forecast likely will change, but 11 days out it calls for 40 degrees and no precipitation on Super Bowl Sunday in East Rutherford, where weather will matter.
In a dome or in perfect outdoor conditions, you would think Manning & Co. would be bigger favorites. As it stands, the Seattle defense could get help from Mother Nature. And it’s not like the Seahawks need help. They ranked first in fewest yards allowed per game (273.6), fewest passing yards allowed (172.0) and fewest points allowed per game (14.4).
Perhaps worth noting is that Manning’s Super Bowl victory over the Bears came in the Miami rain — sometimes drizzle, sometimes downpour, a total of an inch — back on Feb. 4, 2007. Manning was sharp that day, completing 25 of 38 passes for 247 yards and a touchdown. He’ll have to throw for more than that if the Broncos are to win this time, and he’ll have to do it in colder temperatures, at least.
Broncos Digs: Denver will stay at the Jersey City Hyatt, which serves as AFC team headquarters, and will hold its media availability on a yacht docked there. Seriously. While we have lots of questions about that, we are pleased to be scheduled to spend our week covering the Seahawks for NFL Network and, hopefully, hopping on WFAN when possible.
Both teams will arrive at Newark airport on Sunday, with the Broncos to land at 3:30 p.m. and the Seahawks at 7 p.m.
Manning Family Reunion: After the Broncos defeated the Patriots, a pretty cool scene unfolded at Peyton Manning’s locker in the spacious Denver locker room. His brothers, Cooper and Eli, milled around, as did their father, Archie. As Archie talked to reporters, John Fox joined the Manning brothers as Peyton tied his tie. This will not come as a surprise to anyone who knows Fox: His addition to the group immediately increased the number of smiles and amount of laughter. Eli, by the way, talked to reporters but politely declined to do on-camera interviews.
Obviously, all of the Mannings are struck by the coincidence that Peyton will try to win his second Super Bowl in Eli’s home stadium two years after Eli won in the Indianapolis dome.
“I’m just happy for him to be in New York in a Super Bowl,” Eli said Sunday. “I’m really happy for him to get back to a Super Bowl and have a chance to win another championship. Obviously, I played one in Indianapolis, and he was great to me. Whatever I needed, he was going to try to help me out, and obviously I’ll do the same for him.”
If you’re wondering, Eli did not seem to be favoring his ankle, which he sprained in the season finale, capping the worst season of his career. Surely, Eli Manning knows there’s much work to be done.
A Win For The J-E-T-S: How happy do you think the entire Jets organization was to see Manning and the Broncos vanquish the Patriots? The Jets’ worst Super Bowl nightmare had Bill Belichick and Tom Brady gallivanting around 1 Jets Drive and taking over their Florham Park facility next week.
Can You Turn Up The Heat? One key difference could affect the Seahawks’ and Broncos’ preparation next week. While both the Giants and Jets have a spacious field house, the Giants’ is heated while the Jets’ is not. And both, of course, have outdoor fields that, presumably, will be snowplowed in the very near future.
Get Your Program Here! Anyone interested in ordering an official Super Bowl XLVIII game program at a discount may go to superbowlprogram.us and use code “SB48W” at checkout. We’re told that if you order by this Friday, you’ll receive it before the game.
On Hakeem Nicks’ Future: Hakeem Nicks is scheduled to be a free agent in seven weeks, and it is certainly possible his days with the Giants are over. But make no mistake: If Nicks does not stay with the Giants, it will not be because he was fined for being late or missing treatment during the 2013 season. It will be because of his on-field production over the past two years, in which he’s battled various injuries, and because he finds a better deal elsewhere. The rest is noise.
On Mark Sanchez’s Future: Brian Costello, who does a terrific job as the Jets’ beat writer for the New York Post, reported Wednesday from the Senior Bowl that Mark Sanchez will be highly sought-after if he is released by the Jets.
“We’d take Sanchez,” Costello quoted an unnamed coach as saying. “He’d be the starter as soon as he walked in the door for us.”
That really says more about the state of the quarterback position in the league than it does about Sanchez, doesn’t it? Then again, it might play to Sanchez’s advantage around the league that while he was committing 52 turnovers in 2011 and 2012, the Jets were generally seen as a mess of an organization and severely lacking in the playmaker department.
From Foxboro: We’ll leave you with the final exchange from Belichick’s final press conference of the season, on Monday, courtesy of a transcript provided by the Patriots.
Question: Do you plan on watching the Super Bowl?
BB: Again, I’m really not that far ahead. I’m sure I’ll see it one way or another. We play Denver next year, I’m sure we’ll see it whether it’s on the coaches’ tape or live, I don’t know. Honestly, right now I’m just trying to get the next few days, get through the next few days. There are many things that are in that drawer that are now coming to the top of the desk that I need to try to deal with one way or another. That’s what I’ll try to do.
Question: Are you a fan of the cold-weather Super Bowl?
BB: I’m just trying to coach the Patriots. I’m not trying to schedule games or be a Super Bowl coordinator. Thanks for everything this year. I appreciate it. We’ll see you in the offseason.
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