Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning is known for turning football into a mind game. His pre-snap audibles and hand signals drive defenses crazy, mainly because nobody has been able to figure them out.
Well, nobody could figure Manning out until Super Bowl XLVIII.
The Seattle Seahawks dominated the Broncos from start to finish on Sunday and ended up with an impressive 43-8 victory. They held the Broncos off the scoreboard until the final play of the third quarter. Yes, the offense that set numerous NFL records this year was held scoreless for 45 minutes.
How did Seattle's "Legion of Boom" do it?
According to Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman, the defense figured out Manning's hand signals. Here's what the corner had to say to The MMQB's Robert Klemko:
All we did was play situational football. We knew what route concepts they liked on different downs, so we jumped all the routes. Then we figured out the hand signals for a few of the route audibles in the first half.
Me, Earl [Thomas], Kam [Chancellor]… we’re not just three All-Pro players. We’re three All-Pro minds.
The Seahawks defense frustrated Manning all night. The front seven got constant pressure on the quarterback, which allowed the secondary to go by what it saw before the snap.
However, Sherman admitted that the defense could have been burned by gambling on the hand signals.
"Now, if Peyton had thrown in some double moves, if he had gone out of character, we could’ve been exposed," Sherman told Klemko.
Manning may have set a Super Bowl record for most completions in a game, but anyone watching could tell that he couldn't get anything going all night. He finished the game with two interceptions to only one touchdown after averaging 3.4 touchdowns per game in the regular season.
For once, Manning wasn't able to toy with the defense. The Seahawks figured out what his hand signals meant, and they used that to their advantage.
Their ability to solve the signal-caller gave them a huge edge in not only the biggest game of the year, but arguably the biggest game of Manning's career.
[h/t Business Insider]
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