For a coach who's spent the majority of his coaching career in the NFC, Panthers head coach Ron Rivera has seen more than his fair share of games facing Peyton Manning.
The biggest meeting was in Super Bowl XLI when Manning threw for one touchdown and one interception en route to his first Vince Lombardi Trophy. But Rivera had faced him as early as 1999 when he was the Eagles' linebackers coach. From that game, a 44-17 drubbing, to the most recent matchup in 2012 when Manning was in his first year as a Bronco, the two have been on opposing sidelines in 10 games and Rivera is well aware of how difficult Manning is to go against.
"I told him one time I hope he writes a book and tells us all the truth," Rivera said Thursday. "He does so much [at the line of scrimmage] and it’s hard, it really is. I had the fortune of competing against him a couple times when I was in San Diego and as a coach you try to get past that because he does so many things.
"He is going to get up there and try to do things to throw you off your game, out of your game, so he can exploit that. That’s what I see when you put the tapes on and watch the way he does the things he does at the line of scrimmage, the checks, the audible, the signals to his teammates as to what combination of routes he wants, you can see that’s all there. To me it’s all about him playing the game and then you have to react to how he is playing it."
With over 16 years separating Rivera's first look at Manning in a game to this upcoming Super Bowl, the Panthers head coach still sees much of what he saw then.
"You see the same guy. That’s the biggest thing what people have to understand, he’s a consummate pro, he’s going to know you, he’s going to understand you, he’s going to attack you the best way he knows," Rivera said. "He is a very smart, bright football player, he is going to anticipate and do things off of what he sees. You’ve got to be good at what you do, you have to make sure if you’re disguising, you are holding your disguise. He wants to undress the defense as quick as possible and get a feel for where they are going and he will know where to attack. I think it really is a great chess match."