JERSEY CITY Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll doesn't shy away from Super Bowl XLVIII's vital matchup question: Can his fast, fierce defensive front slow record-setting Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning's quick-rhythm tempo?
"Really, nobody has pressured him at all 18 sacks for the regular season is nothing for 659 throws," Carroll told USA TODAY Sports. "For us to win the football game, we're going to have to get pressure."
Former Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck cites the in-the-trenches battle between five virtually unknown Broncos linemen tasked with one enormous mandate: keep Manning upright against a constantly rotating, seven-deep front that combined for 44 regular-season sacks.
Carroll was a defensive assistant in 1985 under then-Minnesota Vikings head coach Bud Grant, orchestrator of the "Purple People Eaters" pass rush of Alan Page, Carl Eller, Gary Larsen and Jim Marshall in the late 1960s and early '70s.
"Seattle is not a trick defense, they're going to play old-school Bud Grant, Minnesota Vikings-style defense and good luck to you," Hasselbeck, the current Indianapolis Colts backup, told USA TODAY Sports. "Seattle plays the exact defense every single play. And Peyton knows it.
"At the line of scrimmage, the only thing that will matter is whether it's press coverage or press bail and Peyton exploiting the right matchup."
Brock Huard, a Seattle ESPN Radio analyst who once backed up Manning in Indianapolis, added: "The Seahawks front has got pressure all year. That will be key to this game, that five-yard piece of real estate behind the line of scrimmage.
"That Denver line isn't great. But Peyton compensates, getting the ball out in 2.3 seconds."
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