EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Vikings Offensive Coordinator Norv Turner joined play-by-play announcer Paul Allen on Allen's KFAN radio show Monday and offered a reflection on past Super Bowls and a look ahead to Sunday's game between the Seattle Seahawks and New England Patriots.
Turner held the same position in Dallas from 1991-93 and helped guide the Cowboys to victories over the Buffalo Bills in Super Bowls XXVII and XXVIII. Dallas won the first meeting 52-17 in the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif., and the rematch by a slightly more cosmetic 30-13 margin in Atlanta's Georgia Dome.
Although the rosters of players and coaches had many similarities, Turner said preparing for the games had quite a contrast because the teams had two weeks between the NFC and AFC championships and the Super Bowl the first time, but met for the title the week after they claimed their second straight conference titles.
"The first time we played in the game, we had the week off and then we traveled to Los Angeles, we played the game in the Rose Bowl, we spent the week at UCLA practicing," Turner recalled. "The next year was one of the few years where they only had one week off, so that was a challenge. That was hard. You played on Sunday, traveled on Monday, the media day (Tuesday) and then bang, you're into game preparation.
"The first year, and I think you heard (Seahawks coach) Pete Carroll and (Patriots coach) Bill Belichick both say this, when you have a week off, you want to do whatever you can to get your team ready that week and get all the game-planning and all the good practices done and then when you get to the site, you're kind of rehearsing the game and going through the different things," Turner continued. "Your game plan is in, you're not installing, you're going out and practicing the game plan, and I think that really helps the preparation. The second year we played, we went right to Atlanta the Monday after the game and we were scrambling to get everything you needed to get done in that atmosphere."
Seattle arrived in Arizona Sunday, and New England left the snowy East Coast for a sunnier, sandier spot Monday. Both teams will participate in Media Day Tuesday and reinforce the game plans they installed last week at their respective headquarters the rest of this week.
Turner said he expects Sunday's game to be a "great matchup" of the "two best teams."
"I think New England is much improved on defense from where they were a year ago, and they've got to be able to stop the run and they have the DBs now to play man and eight in the box," Turner said. "You look at New England's offense and the ball control passing game and the way they ran the ball in the last game, they've got a tough test with Seattle's defense, but I think the teams that have played the best against Seattle's defense have run inside between the tackles and had success with the short passing game."
New England's return to the Super Bowl involved a comeback against Baltimore in the AFC Divisional with 418 passing yards and 14 rushing yards, and a more balanced 226 yards passing and 177 yards rushing in a blowout of Indianapolis.
Seattle is attempting to become the first team to repeat since New England (Super Bowls XXXVIII and XXXIX). The Seahawks returned on the strength of their defense against Carolina in the Divisional and after an incredible and improbable comeback in the final minutes against Green Bay.
"It's usually the most complete teams that get into the playoffs and have success in the playoffs and ultimately get into the Super Bowl," Turner said. "Everyone gets locked in on run-first, but their team is based on their defense and that allows them to be a ball control, run-first team, but you look at the explosive plays that they get from the quarterback position, and people neglect to realize this guy (Russell Wilson) runs for 700 yards or whatever it is and he makes game-changing plays in the running game. They look at the passes and say, 'Well, they're not a good pass offense.' Well, their quarterback makes productive, game-changing plays in every game he plays and he does a lot of it with his feet, but he is a very good passer also."
Turner said despite the amount of pageantry that accompanies the Super Bowl, the game is going to be decided like less-hyped games the players have played.
"You've got to protect the ball, you've got to block, you've got to tackle, you've got to do those things, so once the adrenaline (clears) and once you settle in, you've got to be able to go play the same type of game you've been playing since you were 8 years old," Turner said. "I think the team that settles into that soonest is the team that has the best chance of winning. This game is going to be decided just like every other game: by takeaways, turnovers, missed tackles, great catches, all the things you do to get there."