Extra Points: Coaches expect the unexpected as Super Bowl approaches

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Updated: 1/31 10:48 pm

New York, NY (SportsNetwork.com) - Like prizefighters posing one last time before a big fight, Pete Carroll and John Fox shared a microphone Friday with the Lombardi Trophy sitting between them.

Both are on the precipice of their first Super Bowl wins as head coaches in the NFL but each took a little time out to covet what the other has in a joint press conference before Sunday's big game.

"We'd like to have their points," joked Carroll, the mentor of the NFC champion Seattle Seahawks. "How many did you score, like 800? (actually a league-record 606) That would help out our defense."

Fox, the pilot of AFC kingpin Denver, was a little more general at first but couldn't help gushing about Carroll's defense by the end of his thought process.

"You can't slight your own team," the Broncos coach said. "Any time you look at an opponent, there's things that you admire about what that they do. I'll leave it just to admiration, not what I'd want to have.

"Being a defensive coach, I have a little pertinence to the defense. They have very good speed. They really have a stable of rushers that do an outstanding job; they cause havoc. On the back end, they probably have the most talented secondary in the league."

The extra time between the conference championship games and the Super Bowl can play tricks on the mind and it's human nature to look at an opponent's strengths and wonder "what if?"

"They have great length (in the defensive backfield), great speed," Fox said. "You can tell (Seattle?s general manager) John Schneider and the personnel people as well as Pete (Carroll) and his coaching staff that it?s something that they have a vision about what they're building. I think probably the length and athleticism of their defense is what I look at and it sticks out on tape."

"For us, it is pretty obvious that we have this enormous challenge of this great season that (Denver's offense) has had and (Denver quarterback) Peyton (Manning) and all that he was able to accomplish," Carroll countered.

The additional seven days is also an opportunity to overthink things a bit.

Carroll explained the most convenient storyline in the game -- Denver's top- ranked offense against Seattle's No. 1 D -- may not be the most important one in the end.

"Is it our defense versus their offense?" the Seahawks mentor asked. "I really don't believe that's what it's going to be. There's so many aspects to this. There's so many phases that will contribute. It will be wonderful to see what the storyline is afterwards."

It's certainly conceivable Super Bowl XLVIII will be decided by the more unheralded units in the game, the Denver defense and its counterparts on the Seattle offense, or each's special teams units.

In fact the bulletin board material for both clubs this week hasn't come from the opposition, it's been generated by the media's obsession with Manning and the Broncos' scoring ability, along with Richard Sherman and Seattle's imposing stop-unit.

"There is a little bit of an undercurrent," Carroll continued. "Our offensive guys are thinking about it, too. I'm sure (Fox's) defensive guys are thinking about it, too. They want to be part of this whole factor. There's going to be a lot of guys battling. It's going to be exciting to see the story."

Fox agreed.

"At the end of the day, it's a team game," he said. "I remind everybody that there's three phases of the game and my experience, in whether it's been one of these games or any big spot, is who executes the best and who performs the best."

All that said, it's almost impossible to ignore what is the two best individual units in all of football.

"I think a lot has been made of that and rightfully so," Fox said. "Both sides have been fairly historic in what they've accomplished; I'm talking about Seattle's defense and I'm talking about our offense. We both have great pride. I'll let Pete (Carroll) speak to his, but I know I've got great pride in our offense and what it has put forth this year."

"I really couldn't agree more," Carroll replies. "It's obvious that there's an attraction to the defense and the offense is a logical matchup to look for."

Logical, doesn't mean definitive, however.

"Obviously, your star players have to be great in championship games," Fox said. "(But) there always seems to be the unknown guy that makes a critical play, whether it's in the kicking game. Lord knows where it's going to come from."

Carroll agreed

"The game is going so many different ways," he said. "We don't know which way it's going to be bounce, but it's probably going to be about someone taking care of the football better than the other and we'll see how that turns out."

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