BY Steve Rudman 11:30AM 09/16/2014

In Super Bowl rematch games, who wins?

The Super Bowl rematch Sunday at the Clink will mark only the seventh time that Super Bowl participants from one year faced each other the next season.

Quarterback Russell Wilson had the ball in his hands for only 17 minutes, 45 seconds Sunday, not nearly enough time to get the job done against San Diego. / Drew McKenzie, Sportspress Northwest

When the NFL announced its 2014 regular-season schedule, the first game to get a red circle drawn around it was the Week 3 matchup between Denver and Seattle at CenturyLink Field – an almost immediate rematch of Super Bowl XLVIII in which the Seahawks de-toothed Peyton Manning and the Broncos 43-8.

Denver Veep/GM John Elway used the 35-point embarrassment as motivation to bolster his roster, which the Broncos especially did during the free agency period when they filled a variety of needs, overhauled their defense and gave themselves an infusion of athleticism and nastiness.

Already possessing the best offense, statistically, in NFL history, the Broncos added to the defense with future Hall of Fame pass rusher DeMarcus Ware from the Dallas Cowboys and cornerback Aqib Talib from the New England Patriots, among a host of lesser lights. The idea was to get more physical defensively, which the Broncos did, by all accounts. At 2-0, they will meet the 1-1 Seahawks, coming off Sunday’s 30-21 loss to the San Diego Chargers.

Super Bowl teams from one season generally do not face each other the next year. In the Super Bowl era, such a rematch has occurred only six times, and not since Mike Holmgren’s 1996 Green Bay Packers, having beaten New England 35-31 in Super Bowl XXXI, came back in Week 9 the following year and, behind Brett Favre, knocked off Drew Bledsoe and the Patriots 28-10.

In the six next-season rematches of Super Bowl teams, the defending champion won four times and lost twice, as the following shows. Note: After Dallas won Super Bowl XXVII (Jan. 31, 1993) over Buffalo (52-17), the Cowboys twice faced the Bills during the 1993 season (regular and post).

In Week 2, the Bills, behind Jim Kelly, defeated the Cowboys 13-10 in Dallas. But in Super Bowl XXVIII Jan. 30, 1994, in the last rematch of Super Bowl teams from the previous season, Dallas routed Buffalo 30-13.

Year SB SB Result Rematch Rematch Skinny
1969 IV K.C.23, Minn 7 Minn 17-10 Fred Cox FGs decided it
1976 XI Oak 32, Minn 14 Oak 35-13 Ken Stabler 3 TDs, 2 to C. Branch
1978 XIII Pitt 35, Dal 31 Pitt 14-3 Franco Harris ran for 2 TDs
1992 XXVII Dal 42, Buff 17 Buff 13-10 35-yard FG by Steve Christie
1992 XXVII Dal 42, Buff 17 Dal 30-13 Emmitt Smith 132 yards, 2 TDs
1996 XXXI GB 35, NE 31 GB 28-10 Brett Favre 239 yards, 3 TDs
2013 XXXVIII Sea 43, Den 8 TBD Early line: Seahawks by 4½

No ball, no win

Pete Carroll has coached the Seahawks in 66 regular-season games (39-27), and in only one did Seattle have fewer drives than the 10 it had Sunday in a 30-21 loss at San Diego. In only one other did the Seahawks run fewer than 40 plays, their total against the Chargers. And in only two did the Seahawks control the clock for fewer minutes than they did against San Diego.

In Carroll’s second year (2011), with quarterback Charlie Whitehurst flailing, the Seahawks ran 50 plays over 12 drives, accomplishing nothing except Steven Hauschka’s 20-yard field goal in the third quarter of a 6-3 loss at Cleveland. The Seahawks controlled the clock for 17 minutes, 4 seconds.

On Nov. 7, 2010, with Whitehurst compiling a dismal 44.3 passer rating, the Seahawks owned the clock for a mere 17:26, during which they ran a Carroll-era low 37 plays over 10 drives.

Sunday in San Diego, where the Chargers executed an almost flawless game plan, marked only the third time in Carroll’s tenure that the Seahawks held the ball for fewer than 18 minutes. In only one of the Carroll games in which Seattle had possession for fewer than 23 minutes did the Seahawks win:

Year Date Opp. Score Drives Plays Per Play Possession
2011 Oct. 23 at Cle L 6-3 12 50 2.7 17:04
2010 Nov. 7 NYG L 41-6 10 37 4.4 17:26
2014 Sept. 14 at SD
L 30-21 10 40 7.2 17:45
2010 Nov. 28 KC L 42-34 14 51 5.6 18:57
2011 Oct. 2 Atl L 30-28 11 53 7.1 19:50
2011 Sept. 18 at Pitt L 24-0 10 47 3.5 21:16
2013 Oct. 28 at StL W 14-9 12 40 3.4 21:51
2011 Sept. 19 at Den L 31-14 9 56 6.1 22:33

Dominant starts

Unable to force a takeaway, unable to get their offense rolling for an extended period of time, the Seahawks lost by more than seven points Sunday for the first time since Week 9 of the 2011 season when the Dallas Cowboys beat them by 10. The Seahawks also had another significant streak come to an end.

Dating to 2012, they had gone 21 consecutive regular-season games without allowing their opponent to score on its first drive. Before Nick Novak’s 50-yard field goal on San Diego’s opening drive, Seattle had not yielded a first-drive score since Dec. 2, 2012, when Earl Bennett caught a 12-yard touchdown pass from Jay Cutler in what became a 23-17 Seattle win over the Bears.

Since 2011, the Seahawks have allowed just seven first-drive scores, including none in 2013. They are 3-4 in those games.


  • poulsbogary

    We frequently come across at the higher levels of sports known as “getting better”. Teams need to “get better” in order to compete. Who “got better” during the off season?
    The phrase is not a reference to practicing harder, or re-designing the playbook, or any number of different activities teams may attempt at improvement. It is specifically a reference to staffing and roster improvement.
    As the article pointed out, Denver has far outdone Seattle on this point.

  • jafabian

    The Broncos did what Tim Ruskell did with the Hawks after Suber Bowl XL: replacing players lost in free agency or were cut with veteran players from other teams. They’re hoping because they’re veterans they can just step in and keep the team at that Super Bowl level. But Ware was cut by Dallas after his least productive season and grossly overpaid for Talib. In effect, they’re patchworking the team together and that didn’t work for Ruskell. The Hawks should win on Sunday being at home and losing to the Chargers. Then they have a bye week. Will they win after that is the question.