After not starting the last seven games of the regular season plagued by injury, Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning will get the start on Sunday against the Steelers in the AFC Divisional Playoff game.
Manning, who is 11-13 in the postseason, stepped in late in the game against the San Diego Chargers, going five for nine for 69 yards and leading the Broncos on a game-winning drive.
Safety Mike Mitchell, who has faced Manning three times while playing for the Raiders, knows that you can't let your guard down when it comes to defending the future Hall of Fame quarterback.
"You have to really execute," said Mitchell. "He is so smart. He is usually good at figuring out your disguise plan early. You aren't going to trick him. It really comes down to executing. We are really going to have to apply pressure and stand up in the back end in a big way."
Mitchell said you have to be spot on with attention to detail when it comes to playing a quarterback like Manning, who studies the intricacies of the game and pays attention to even the tiniest details.
"You have to be even more mindful of everything you do when you play a guy like him," said Mitchell. "You have to watch what foot is up. If you know you always have your left foot up when you go to Cover 2, he knows it too. You might want to switch that up.
"You have to be on details. He is so on the details. If a lineman is giving it away from their alignment, he will know the blitz is coming that way. We have to really be on our details, trying to figure out how we can hide things, but still get the job done so that he is not just back there playing Madden."
The Steelers defeated the Broncos 34-27 earlier this season at Heinz Field, but at that point Brock Osweiler was Denver's starting quarterback. And while there will be some changes to Denver's offense with Manning at the helm, Mitchell doesn't envision an overhaul by any stretch.
"I think their identity is still to run the ball and try to run that stretch run and then have the play action passing game off of it," said Mitchell. "I think with Peyton Manning they are going to try to do the same things. They just may have more of the playbook open. They may take more shots because they trust him to be more responsible."