R Peyton Manning stopped short of pleading the Fifth Amendment on Wednesday, but he nonetheless provided little more than name, rank and serial number.
He’s a veteran skilled in all the crafts of the quarterback, and he knows there’s nothing to gain from talking candidly with Seattle-area media about the Super Bowl that Denver lost to the Seahawks by a lopsided total.
For both Manning and Denver Broncos coach John Fox, questions about the Super Bowl were answered in a tone that sounded a great deal like: What Super Bowl?
Maybe that’s good for the Seahawks; the Broncos can’t be hypermotivated to avenge the 43-8 loss in Super Bowl XLVIII if they can hardly remember the game.
Asked if he studied the film of the Super Bowl in preparation for Sunday’s game at CenturyLink Field, Manning said, “There’s always something to learn from previous games; the games played this season have the most relevance.”
You will watch any games you’ve played against an upcoming opponent, Manning said. Specifically asked about the Super Bowl, though, he said that it was watched back during the offseason. “It’s not an easy film to watch,” he said. “You try to watch it and try to learn from it and find a way to be better from it.”
Manning led the most productive offensive team in NFL history into that game, and generated just eight points. It took exactly one snap for the Broncos to make their first offensive mistake, as Manning saw the shotgun snap fly over his head while he was still calling an audible. It led to a Seahawks safety.
He finished with two interceptions and a 73.5 passer rating — 42 points below his average for the regular season.
Logic from an outsider perspective would hold that the Broncos would be heavily motivated to extract revenge against the team that so handily vanquished them.
Manning paused nearly six seconds before formulating an answer to a question on that topic.
“Every player has different emotions and ways to get ready for a game,” he said. “That’s part of your job as a football player, to get ready. Whatever motivates you to get ready to play your best football. … I think everybody’s in favor of that.”
Manning did not get to be a five-time NFL MVP by being intimidated by challenges, nor by being careless with his comments before big games.
Asked if the Broncos have talked much about the Super Bowl, he cited confidentiality. “What we talk about kinda stays in here,” he said.
Fox acknowledged the game, but pointed out that the teams are now different, and both coaches are learning the nuances of the new rosters.
There are similarities to last year’s teams, particularly regarding the schemes, but “everybody adds wrinkles,” Fox said. “We have to justify our existence in the offseason. But (in the Seahawks), I see a very talented and well-coached football team.”
The 2-0 Broncos have beaten the Colts and the Chiefs, two playoff teams from last season, and haven’t committed an offensive turnover.
But the fans at CenturyLink Field cause such things to be a concern for any visiting team.
“They’ve got an 18-1 record there the last two years,” Fox said, crediting the enthusiasm of 12th Man fans for making “it tough on the opponent.”
Residual emotion from the Super Bowl loss, Fox said, will not be a factor.
“Last year is last year; it doesn’t really give you much to go into this game,” Fox said. “Whichever team executes best on Sunday is going to win the game. We know it’s going to be tough. It’s a big challenge and we’re preparing for that now.”
Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman tended to agree with Fox — motivation is a matter of the moment, not history.
“Winning is always the motivation in this league,” Sherman said. “They want to come here and get a win, and that’s the same motivation we have. Not all the guys who are playing in this game were there last year. I think they’ll be motivated to win; it’s gonna be a great game.”