According to Indianapolis Colts cornerback Vontae Davis, his defense used a blueprint previously deployed by the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLVIII to beat Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos on Sunday:
"“Seattle gave us the blueprint in the Super Bowl,” Davis said, per the Indianapolis Star. “What we did was similar to what Seattle did, as far as taking their receivers away.”"
What they did was use their cornerbacks in press coverage against the Broncos receivers, asking them be physical near the line of scrimmage to “beat them up“. Having their linebackers and safeties then “clog the middle” of the field, they forced Manning to either beat them deep outside or make difficult sideline throws into tight windows with his diminished arm strength.
A clearly not quite right Peyton Manning couldn’t consistently make those tough throws. According to ESPN Stats & Info, Manning was just 6 of 21 (or 29%) on throws more than 5 yards down field. Consequently, the Colts defense successfuly held the Broncos defense to just 1 touchdown and 13 total offensive points on Sunday in what was a dominant performance:
"“We were able to put the game on Peyton Manning,” Colts defensive lineman Ricky Jean-Francois said per ESPN. “You never know Peyton to overthrow guys, he usually puts the ball right on the numbers and when he kept overthrowing it, we knew we had him. We kept saying that’s blood in the water.”"
It was a testament to Colts’ defensive coordinator Greg Manusky‘s brilliant gameplan to keep a potent Broncos’ offense under wraps. Of course, it’s a strategy that the Colts defense had previously used in their Week 7 win in 2013 against Denver, but weren’t as successful in utilizing in this year’s Week 1 loss to the Broncos.
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Of course, it may be a strategy that the Colts could continue to look to similarly deploy this weekend as they faceTom Brady
and the New England Patriots in this upcoming weekend’s AFC Championship game.
Specifically, the Colts defense may look to clog up the center of the field with safeties and linebackers to make life more difficult for Patriots’ All-Pro tight end Rob Gronkowski over the middle, as well as to nullify wideout Julian Edelman‘s effectiveness in the slot. It may serve the defense well to make wideouts like Brandon LaFell beat them deep outside or near the sidelines rather than the aforementioned proven alternatives.
Jan 11, 2015; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos wide receiver Wes Welker (83) is unable to make a catch against Indianapolis Colts cornerback Darius Butler (20) during the second quarter in the 2014 AFC Divisional playoff football game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports