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Can Seahawks slow down Broncos' pass-catchers?

JERSEY CITY, N.J. -- On Tuesday's "Around the League Podcast," we hailed Sunday's Super Bowl for its abundant collection of on-field matchups.


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» 'Hawks stomp Broncos in SBXLVIII | Smith is MVP
» Manning falls flat on big stage | No-so Super night
» Manning running out of time | 'Not embarrassing'
» 'Hawks' dominant D new normal | Why effective?
» 'Best defense since '85 Bears'? | D sets tone
» 'Hawks savor the moment | Carroll's a.m. rounds
» Harvin saves his best for last | Intimidation factor?
» Broncos center takes responsibility for safety
» Lynch dances with himself in locker room | Watch
» Namath's coin flip gets picked by ref | Name it

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Top of the list? How about Seattle's cadre of hyper-talented defensive backs against Denver's record-breaking rash of receivers.

This won't be a game, for instance, in which two or more corners blanket Megatron and, BANG, there go the Detroit Lions. Seattle doesn't have the benefit of facing just one or two legitimate targets -- Denver's list of weapons is a mile long.

In case you've been encamped for months in a Russian wilderness, let's review: The Broncos this season threw for more yards per game (340.3) than any team in NFL history. Denver also become the first team to field five players with 60-plus receptions and four with 10-plus touchdowns through the air.

Seattle's secondary must account for Demaryius Thomas, Wes Welker, Eric Decker and Julius Thomas snap after snap. Not an easy task when Peyton Manning so rapidly unloads the ball and so rarely makes mistakes. His ability to avoid the rush with his quick release has the passer under pressure on just 12.7 percent of his playoff snaps, per Pro Football Focus.

Cornerback Byron Maxwell told me Wednesday that "everybody's gotta be on their Ps and Qs."

"When you're facing someone like Peyton Manning, you gotta make sure that you take care of home first," Maxwell said. "So you gotta make sure your eyes and your technique are on point, because if you're not, you're not giving yourself a shot at all."

If any team in this league has a shot, it's Seattle, boasting one of the top five pass defenses of the last 64 years -- and the second-best since the 1970 merger.

Maxwell noted that the Seahawks doesn't often resort to double coverage, no matter who they face. Still, Manning makes the process a headache because "you don't know when your guy is getting the ball, so you gotta be on your game the whole time."

Against the deepest flock of corners and safeties league-wide, Manning won't be able to pick on a nickel back or harass a raw fill-in on passing downs. "There's really no weaknesses in our DB room," said All-Pro safety Earl Thomas on Sunday night. "We have guys that could be starting anywhere else."

Beside posting the league's top defense in terms of points and yardage allowed, the Seahawks led the NFL with 39 forced turnovers. Consider that All-Pro Richard Sherman managed to lead the league in interceptions despite being the least targeted cornerback in the NFL.

Thomas spoke repeatedly of playing physical and "sticking to what we do best." Wearing down Denver's pass-catchers is Seattle's best hope, and the Seahawks certainly have a track record of doing just that.

"I've been a secondary guy my entire life," coach Pete Carroll said Wednesday. "... The style of play has always been about playing against the line of scrimmage and affecting the receivers right from the get go, and that's our bump-and-run press stuff we do. And I've been coaching this way, exactly the same way, since I was at North Carolina State, however many years ago that was. So nothing's changed."

I quizzed one defensive back after the next about what Seattle was planning from a scheme perspective to outwit Denver. To a man, they steered the answer away from Xs and Os toward core fundamentals. Thomas insisted Seattle would stay true to what got them here by relentlessly studying film, preparing all week and "just letting it rip on Sunday."

He then paused for a minute before acknowledging: "It's going to take everybody."

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