The Seahawks had the NFL's #1 defense this season, and it showed Sunday night in the Super Bowl against a record-setting Broncos offense that was extremely over-matched. The Seahawks flew to the football with speed, and delivered big hits all night in a game that Denver was never in.
Seattle's had more than just speed in that game. They also had the benefit of knowing Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning's hand signals, according to Robert Klemko of the MMQB.
“All we did was play situational football,” Sherman says. “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.”
He demonstrates the signs Manning used for various routes, and says he and his teammates were calling out plays throughout the game and getting them right. “Me, Earl [Thomas], Kam [Chancellor]… we’re not just three All-Pro players. We’re three All-Pro minds,” Sherman says. “Now, if Peyton had thrown in some double moves, if he had gone out of character, we could’ve been exposed.”
Every team in the NFL tries to figure out "tells" of the opposing team for any possible advantage. For example, former Giants DE Michael Strahan claims that he would often know if the Eagles were running or passing based on the way Jon Runyan lined up.
Peyton Manning was downright bad in what could arguably be called the biggest game of his career. Knowledge of the Broncos' signals might explain to some degree why Seahawk defenders were draped all over Broncos receivers in the first half of the game. However, the Broncos never adjusted, as Sherman noted that if the Broncos had called some double moves, they may have been caught out of position. While Manning's poor performance should not be dismissed, it should also be noted that the Seahawks' staff clearly outcoached the Broncos'.