Much has changed since the two sides met in Glendale.
For starters, Marshawn Lynch won’t be accounting for 133 yards of offense this time around. Brandon Browner won’t be down on the goal line to jam his former team with 27 seconds remaining, either. And that undrafted rookie tryout who intercepted the final pass of Super Bowl XLIX? Well, he won’t be an unknown.
But while Feb. 1, 2015 is far removed, familiarity remains between the New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks.
Bill Belichick and Pete Carroll check in as the lone head coaches Robert Kraft has hired during his tenure as Patriots owner. Seahawks quarterbacks coach Carl Smith served on Carroll’s Patriots coaching staff. Seahawks assistant linebackers coach Lofa Tatupu’s late father, Mosi, spent 13 seasons playing for New England on the way to earning a place on the franchise’s 50th anniversary team. And Seahawks defensive lineman Michael Bennett just so happens to be the older brother of Patriots tight end Martellus Bennett.
The ties do not end there, though.
A handful of players will see their current team face their former one this Sunday.
Leading up to the 7:30 p.m. ET kickoff at Gillette Stadium, here’s a closer look at the roster connections between New England and Seattle.
Sealver Siliga, defensive tackle – The San Francisco 49ers traded Siliga to Seattle in August of 2013, and a few weeks later, the Utah product was waived and signed to the Seahawks’ practice squad. Siliga’s stay there was brief. He signed to New England’s practice squad that October and worked his way up the 53-man roster soon after. Siliga went on to appear in 25 regular-season games for the Patriots, starting 13 and notching 83 tackles, 5.5 sacks and one forced fumble. He earned a Super Bowl ring along the way, before eventually returning to the Seahawks this offseason. Seattle released Siliga from injured reserve before re-signing him last month.
Dewey McDonald, linebacker – McDonald had a couple cups of coffee with the Patriots during the 2015 season. The special-teamer, then listed as a safety, was claimed off waivers by New England from the Indianapolis Colts late in October and proceeded to play in two games before being waived and re-signed to the practice squad. The Patriots later promoted and waived McDonald again, before he joined the Oakland Raiders’ practice squad in December. Seattle ultimately acquired the California University of Pennsylvania product from Oakland early on this campaign.
Greg Scruggs, tight end – Scruggs lined up on the defensive side of the ball during his time in Seattle. A Seahawks seventh-round pick in 2012, the former Louisville lineman registered six tackles and one sack over nine games during his rookie season – including one stop versus then-Patriots running back Danny Woodhead. Scruggs’ second season, however, was spent on physically unable to perform as the Seahawks won Super Bowl XLVIII. Seattle later cut ties with Scruggs after a 2014 season which consisted of three appearances and two tackles, and he moved to tight end with the Chicago Bears after collecting one tackle and one sack in 2015. The Patriots signed Scruggs this October, but he was placed on injured reserve two weeks later.
Alan Branch, defensive tackle – The 6-foot-6, 325-pound Branch started all 31 games he spent with the Seahawks during the 2011 and 2012 seasons, tallying up 68 tackles and four sacks in the process. Branch then signed with the Buffalo Bills as a free agent in 2013, and he made his way to New England in the middle of 2014. The veteran D-lineman has carved a place as a starter for the Patriots over the last two campaigns, and is on pace to set a new career-high in tackles through the first eight games of 2016.
Justin Coleman, cornerback – Originally entering the league as a Minnesota Vikings undrafted rookie in 2015, the Patriots signed and immediately waived Coleman at the cut to 53 players. From there, the Seahawks lured the former Tennessee corner to their practice squad and the only way for the Patriots to bring him back was to sign him to the active roster. That transpired just four days later. Coleman hasn’t been part of a transaction since that time. He signed an exclusive-rights tender following a strong rookie season and has played in a total of 16 games for the club, starting three while compiling 27 tackles and eight passes defended.