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Broncos: No psychological Super Bowl XLVIII hangover

SAN FRANCISCO -- Tuesday marks the two-year anniversary of a disaster the Denver Broncos would prefer to erase from human consciousness: Super Bowl XLVIII.

The franchise's 43-8 waxing at the hands of the Seattle Seahawks marked a stunning low point for a Peyton Manning-led team that spent that season wiping foes away with a historically potent offense.

Since then, the coaches have changed -- plenty of the players, too -- but can the Broncos block out that recent beatdown as they prepare for Sunday's showdown with the Panthers in Super Bowl 50?

"Nobody has mentioned that game," wideout Demaryius Thomas told Around The NFL. "You know, that was old coaches. A lot of new faces on this team, new coach on this team. We haven't even talked about it. Not even with some of the guys that were on that team a couple years ago."

Thomas should know. He was part of a Broncos offense that was taken to school by Seattle's smothering defense. The vicious style of that defeat amplified Denver's desire to field a defensive unit that could inflict similar pain. Two years later, the Broncos see themselves as a different type of roster altogether.

"I think so," Thomas said, when asked if this year's club is better than the 2013 incarnation. "Of course, we got everybody healthy. Offense is good, defense is playing lights out, so I think this team is better."

To a man, every Denver player and coach we spoke with comprehensively dismissed the idea of a psychological hangover from Super Bowl XLVIII.

"That was in the past," Broncos linebacker Danny Trevathan said. "We got a new team and we're just focused on this game right now. It wasn't a great game and everybody knows that, but we got to focus on this game. And I don't think anybody's thinking about that one."

Added Trevathan: "I just know that I took it upon myself to be better than I was that game. I felt like I gave everything, but it wasn't enough. So, I felt like I should have gotten better and the team feels like it should have gotten better, and we worked our tail off ... and it's just fed into the atmosphere and everybody bought in."

Serving under his third head coach in Denver, running backs aide Eric Studesville knows a little something about wiping the slate clean. He emphasized that teams change immensely over two seasons, saying: "The guys that were here, many of them weren't in the same roles as they are now, so it's different."

Still, Studesville acknowledged that while he doesn't linger on that Super Bowl loss, he "absolutely" learned from it.

"The experience of going through it and just being able to draw from it and move forward," Studesville said. "Things you wish you'd done differently, or better, or sooner -- did we do too much or not enough? That doesn't necessarily mean that's what happened, but everybody draws from it."

Safety T.J. Ward is one of the hard-hitting defenders who made their way to Denver after Super Bowl XLVIII. He didn't feel the sting of that game, and knows better than to bring it up with his teammates.

"There are a lot of guys that are still here, and ... I know they don't want that taste in their mouth again. So I think it means a little bit more," Ward said. "The guys that were there, nothing needs to be said about that. They know what happened. That performance is not going to be repeated."

Another Broncos defender told Around The NFL: "We've just been worried about this Super Bowl. This is the first time I've heard about that Super Bowl."

While Denver's loyal fan base hasn't forgotten that ugly affair, fans don't operate the way NFL teams do. In almost militaristic fashion, players are trained to block out distractions and wipe away the white noise. By all accounts, Sunday is about rewriting history -- not dwelling on it.

"It's Super Bowl 50," said Trevathan, "and we're trying to take it back to Denver."

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