JERSEY CITY - If Peyton Manning adjusts to the Seahawks' defense as adeptly as he reacted to Richard Sherman's critique of his passing, it could be a big day for the Broncos' All-Pro quarterback on Sunday.
Manning was asked about a comment Sherman made earlier this month, when he wrote for Sports Illustrated's "Monday Morning Quarterback" that Manning's "passes will be accurate and on time, but he throws ducks."
That would be "ducks," as in "wounded ducks," a derisive comment that refers to wobbly passes. Manning offered a sly grin when asked about it Thursday at his final media briefing before Super Bowl XLVIII, then replied:
"I believe it to be true as well. I don't think that's a real reach what he's saying. I've thrown a lot of yards and touchdowns with ducks. I'm actually quite proud of it."
Well done, sir.
Rather than get into a back-and-forth, Manning took the high road. But not before delivering a mild shot by offering a reminder that he's had plenty of success with his throws -- ducks or not.
Sherman does have a point, though, and it's not the first time Manning has been hearing about these wobbly passes. There were a few references last year, when Manning was returning after missing an entire year because of neck problems that required four surgical procedures over a two-year period.
Like the time Manning threw three interceptions in the first quarter of a loss to the Falcons early last season. A few days later, Manning was at practice and had warned reporters standing near the end zone during a practice drill to watch out. "Those wobblers still hurt if they hit you in the head," Manning cracked.
So Sherman wasn't pointing out anything new. And Manning is certainly aware of what few limitations he's had since coming back from injury. But the numbers are remarkable: an NFL-record 55 touchdown passes for a single season -- and his 5,477 passing yards were a record, too.
Manning's loose, carefree attitude certainly has been apparent this week. In fact, he has been a very relaxed quarterback throughout the regular season and into the playoffs, admitting along the way that he's enjoying the journey more these days because he knows he's near the end of his remarkable 16-year career.
Manning has been as entertaining in his packed news conferences as he's been on the field, and Thursday's well-timed response to the "ducks" question was just one example. A few minutes later, he was asked if he could name the two other quarterbacks who started Super Bowls with two different teams. "I can name them," Manning said. "Do you want me to help you with the answer?"
He then gave the correct response: Kurt Warner (Rams and Cardinals) and Craig Morton (Cowboys and Broncos).
"That to me is a special accomplishment in itself," Manning said of getting to the Super Bowl with his second team. "I know how hard it's been for me to transition to a new organization. To try to get comfortable with the new culture you are playing in and surroundings, just to get comfortable, is hard enough. To actually turn it into some production and help your team get back to this game, it's hard to do."
Manning can now do something that no other NFL quarterback has done: win Super Bowl titles with two different teams.
He hopes those ducks are good enough to win it all and thereby provide the ultimate response to Sherman's tweak.