ENGLEWOOD, Colo. – **Since February 2, both the Broncos and Seahawks have had many personnel changes.
But, one thing hasn't: the Seahawks boast one of the top secondaries in the NFL. A loss in San Diego last week doesn't change that.
With on-field thermometers reading up to 120 degrees, three Antonio Gates touchdowns pushed the Chargers ahead of the Seahawks and handed the reigning Super Bowl champs a 30-21 loss. Richard Sherman laughed off the idea that the Chargers believed they had "exposed" him.
While the Broncos' AFC West rival defeated the Seahawks and found a way to score on their nearly seamless defense, they aren't taking Sunday's matchup lightly. They know firsthand how difficult it is to score against the "Legion of Boom."
Head Coach John Fox said the members of the Seahawks secondary are, "the best at what they do."
"They're very talented," Fox said. "I would not just single out one area of their defense. I think their whole defense plays good team defense, very well coached. They're fast, athletic, long, all the things you look for in positions on defense. And then at home, on turf, when you're operating with noise, it can sometimes make them even better."
Sherman, Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor and Byron Maxwell are dynamic playmakers who will certainly challenge the Broncos' offense as they helped their team finish with the top pass defense in the NFL last season.
Like Gates, Demaryius Thomas in the Super Bowl proved that the Seattle secondary isn't invincible. While he only found the end zone once in the loss, he had 13 receptions for 118 yards.
In 2013, the Seahawks led the NFL in yards allowed per game, yards per play and points per game. Sherman may be the player on the secondary who gets the headlines—he leads the NFL with the most interceptions (8) and moss passes defended (60) since 2011—but he, Thomas and Chancellor were all Pro Bowl selections last season. There are no weak links in this secondary.
When asked if the Broncos plan to throw in Sherman's direction, Fox was coy, saying, "If I did, I probably wouldn't mention it."
Peyton Manning, who Sherman considers "incredibly smart," said on Wednesday that he couldn't speak to San Diego or Green Bay's game plan. But, he said Sherman is an excellent player.
"I think the whole secondary is very active," Manning said. "They play their defense well. They communicated well. They're on the same page. You see them communicate and talk to each other. That's one of their strengths and so we'll have our game plan and hopefully we'll go out there and execute it."
Check out the best shots from Wednesday's practice at Dove Valley, where Wes Welker was back on the field.
Julius Thomas echoed similar sentiments to Manning in that there is only so much you can learn from tapes of previous games. While Gates had an excellent day against the Seahawks and seemed to find his way open consistently, Thomas said just because they both play tight end doesn't mean he'll have the same amount of success.
"There may be some things that we saw on tape that we may try to do with me, but ultimately you've got to go out there and play your own game," Thomas, who racked up three touchdowns in Week 1, said. "The Chargers were able to go out there and have some success last week, and we're going to have to find our own success. If that's with me being able to have a good game then I have no problem with that. But whatever it takes for us to get the 'W.'"
During their loss to the Chargers, the Seahawks offense was only on the field for just under 18 minutes and ran only 40 plays. It may be a reach to say that the Chargers found the recipe to beat the Seahawks. But no matter how the Broncos do it, they're hoping to find similar success.
Manning noted that teams are always motivated to beat teams who beat them the previous year. But, it's all about execution. But Manning reminded reporters that this Broncos offense is very different from the one that played the Seahawks in February.
"It's a really good football team we're playing," Manning said. "Like I said, they're tough at home. We have different players. Emmanuel Sanders wasn't here last year. [Ryan] Clady wasn't here for the majority of the season so I think everybody has different ways to get motivated for this game and so whatever they have to do to get ready to play solid football."
"You make a lot of mistakes in this game, it sure is tough to beat a good team like them."