Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning is largely the reason that free safety Michael Huff lost his starting job with the Ravens. Now, he's the reason that Huff will get a chance to play in the Super Bowl.
It's been a rollercoaster season for Huff, the former first-round pick who signed a three-year, $6 million deal with the Ravens in late March to replace long-time star Ed Reed. However, Huff started just one game with the Ravens before he was demoted, a result of getting repeatedly torched by Manning and company in the Broncos' regular-season opening 49-27 victory over Baltimore.
After that game, rookie Matt Elam entered the starting lineup alongside strong safety James Ihedigbo, relegating Huff to spot duty and work on the special teams coverage units. Huff then blew an assignment on the final kickoff of the Ravens' 19-16 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Oct. 20, resulting in a long return by Emmanuel Sanders and Shaun Shisham's game-winning field goal as time expired.
When the Ravens returned from the bye week, Huff and defensive lineman Marcus Spears – another free agent addition who made little to no impact – were released on Oct.30.
Huff was out of work for nearly three weeks before he was picked up by the Broncos, who were looking for safety depth with Rahim Moore injured. With the Broncos, Huff has been used as a reserve defensive back, playing five total games, including both playoff contests. He has made three total tackles.
Huff, 30, played 20 of 52 defensive snaps in the Broncos' divisional round victory over the Chargers. He then saw action on 11 total snaps yesterday as Denver defeated the New England Patriots, 26-16, to advance to the Super Bowl.
There certainly won't be a lot of ink spilled on Huff, leading into the Broncos' Super Bowl matchup with the Seattle Seahawks on Feb. 2. However, you can bet that Huff will cherish the experience, especially after one of the primary reasons that he signed with the Ravens was to try and win a Super Bowl.
Huff played the first seven seasons of his NFL career with the Oakland Raiders and was never on a team that had a winning record. So, this playoff thing is new to him and he has Manning largely to thank.