ARLINGTON, Texas –Demaryius Thomas showed off something that Broncos fans have gotten used to seeing in Denver's 51-48 win at Dallas – his arm.
He also showed off something fans haven't seen in a while – his wheels.
Late in the second quarter, Manning fooled the Dallas defense and probably the entire football world with his 1-yard rushing score on a naked bootleg that gave Denver a 28-17 lead.
"I've done it actually a couple of times, believe it or not," Manning laughed. "The key is, you want to do it about every five years or so. If you do it every game, they're going to be playing it, right? It's a good tendency breaker when you haven't done it in about five years and they aren't really thinking about it."
Manning said the key to his successful naked bootlegs is the element of surprise.
Nobody in the stadium except for Manning knew that he was going to keep the ball himself.
"Naked bootlegs only work – the ones that I've done – when you don't tell anybody," Manning explained. "You call the run play and it's a run play and you just kind of make a decision there as you get to the line of scrimmage based on the right look if you think they are going to maybe slant one way. As soon as we brought Julius in motion and the guy covering him went with him, I kind of said, well, that's a good look for it."
The element of surprise was key to the play's success and in order to sell it the best possible way, Manning wanted everyone on the field to believe the play would be a handoff.
"That's the only way to get the linemen to fire off – they're blocking like they are trying to block an inside zone play to the right," Manning said. "The harder they go, the more it kind of sells it for the defense, I think."
Since speed isn't exactly what Manning is known for, he needed all of the defenders to crash the middle of the line looking for a running back.
Which is exactly what happened.
"He's about a 4.9, 5 flat," safety Rahim Moore laughed. "I'm playing but that was a fantastic play. I've seen him run it in practice so I said 'woo.'"
Even though all the Broncos on the field were expecting a handoff, the quarterback keeper is something they've seen Manning do in practice before.
For wide receiver Demaryius Thomas, the run was a play he's not only seen on the practice field, but also on television recently.
"I watched his show, the Manning show (The Book of Manning), and I saw he had it in high school," Thomas said. "Then I've seen it a couple times in practice. I think that was something he came up with himself. He did it this past week, but it worked. Whatever works."
Manning was fine with breaking down the play in detail since it seems unlikely that opponents will have another chance to stop it if he keeps up his once every five years pace.
"I'll be retired by the time I'm able to do it again," Manning laughed.