Peyton Manning stepped under center on the first drive of the second half. He was en route to leading his Denver Broncos to the first of three third-quarter touchdowns and a franchise record 52 points against a woeful Philadelphia Eagles defense. Manning saw something in the defensive formation that made him change the play. He called an audible and made wild movements with his hands, as he's prone to do.
For some reason, this caused Eagles defensive end Fletcher Cox to make hand movements of his own. But his jazz hands didn't seem to be signaling an audible to his teammates. According to Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer, Cox was simply mocking Manning, as if he were an eight-year-old playing a game of copycat. In the screenshot below, you can see Cox standing up on the line of scrimmage, shaking his hands skyward. He looked like a guy doing the Chicken Dance at a wedding.
Seconds later, Knowshon Moreno gained 10 yards on a run to Cox's side of the field.
McLane called out Cox for his antics. "Don't mock a legend when his offense is humiliating your defense and you end up recording only a single assisted tackle for the entire game," he wrote.
That's perfectly fair and absolutely correct. But I still have semi-respect for Cox's effort. Clearly, playing the regular 3-4 defense against Manning wasn't going to stop the Broncos, so why not try and get in his head by making fun of him on the line of scrimmage? Even if there are microscopic odds of it actually working, it's something, right?
It's not like mocking Manning is going to give him any more motivation to put up as many points as possible. He's already fully motivated to do so! All Fletcher Cox was risking was making himself look more foolish than Manning already was.
The Eagles had the same idea when they yelled "Papa John's" while Manning was calling audibles. Did it work? Those 52 points suggest not. Was it any worse a strategy than hoping Fletcher Cox could contain Peyton? Nope. Will it possibly lead to some complimentary Meat Lovers pizzas delivered to Eagles headquarters? Anything's possible.