Pressure's on for Manning

Colts quarterback Peyton Manning will be under pressure from more than Denver defenders on Sunday. With an 0-3 playoff resume, one of the favorites for league MVP has a lot to prove. Read about it in today's news reports.

Reagor: Colts feel 'comfortable' before game with ex-team - Rocky Mountain News - Clay Latimer
January 1, 2004 - If anyone has a reason to look forward to Sunday, it's Montae Reagor. The Indianapolis Colts defensive tackle played in Denver for four seasons, so his team's Dec. 21 meltdown against the Broncos felt like a personal wound.

Manning seeks a better ending - Rocky Mountain News - Lynn DeBruin
January 1, 2004 - Peyton Manning's bio takes up 11 pages in the Indianapolis Colts media guide and provides plenty of eye-popping details about his assault on the NFL record book. There's info about his 4,000-yard seasons, his six-touchdown games and his fourth-quarter comebacks. Yet, when the postseason is mentioned, it's little more than a passing reference: "Started against Jets, started against Dolphins, started against Tennessee . . ." In other words: loss, loss, loss.

McCaffrey says he's ready to play Sunday - Rocky Mountain News - Lee Rasizer
January 1, 2004 - Broncos receiver Ed McCaffrey gave Denver offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak the thumbs up Wednesday, telling him he felt "fine" after suffering his second concussion this month during last Sunday's loss to Green Bay. McCaffrey then proceeded to practice during the first full preparations for the wild-card playoff game this Sunday at Indianapolis.

Adams: Early playoff luck bad for Elway, too - Rocky Mountain News - Sam Adams
January 1, 2004 - Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning has gone 0-3 in playoff games, and the Denver Broncos would like to extend his losing streak by one more game. If it gives Manning any solace, though, future Hall of Famer John Elway needed a couple of tries before he won a playoff game.

Krieger: Pressure mounting for Colts' QB/coach - Rocky Mountain News - Dave Krieger
January 1, 2004 - Being perpetually on vacation, The Dude was hanging out a little at Dove Valley, and Mike Shanahan struck up a conversation. I thought he might have heard how The Dude designs his own plays on Madden 2004, but I think he was embarrassed to ask for help.

Injury report, January 1 - Rocky Mountain News
January 1, 2004 - Injury report, January 1

Manning pressured to deliver in playoffs - Daily Camera - Ryan Thorburn
January 1, 2004 - Joe Montana put up Hall of Fame numbers during the regular season, but the San Francisco 49ers legend was perhaps the most extraordinary quarterback of all time because of four games. In Super Bowls XVI, XIX, XXIII and the 55-10 win over Denver in XXIV, Montana completed 83 of 122 passes for 1,142 yards with 11 touchdowns and no interceptions. It's difficult to describe how good that is in human terms, but in the passer-rating computer formula it computes to a 127.8 average.

Secondary can't afford mistakes vs. Manning - Daily Camera - Ryan Thorburn
January 1, 2004 - Peyton Manning completed 12 passes with no touchdowns, Marvin Harrison only made his man look foolish once all night and Nate Wayne and Brandon Stokley combined for one catch. Veteran Denver cornerback/rookie secondary coach Jimmy Spencer asked his peers/pupils to forget about the first meeting with the Indianapolis Colts, a 31-17 win for the Broncos on Dec. 21.

Plummer has fought off skepticism all season ... - Denver Post - Adam Schefter
Thursday, January 01, 2004 - The first shot Jake Plummer absorbed as a Broncos quarterback did not come from a defensive lineman, linebacker or anyone now involved in the game. It came from the blind side, from a retired general manager living in Annapolis, Md. The widely respected former GM spoke his mind and hit Plummer in the gut.

Indy bad place for last laugh - Denver Post - Mark Kiszla
Thursday, January 01, 2004 - Broncomaniacs always loved John Elway more. But Shannon Sharpe made us laugh louder. Without Mike Shanahan, there would be no NFL championships in Denver. But the coach's brilliance for strategy is not as strong as Sharpe's talent for catching footballs.

QBs bring similar baggage to rematch - Denver Post - Jim Armstrong
Thursday, January 01, 2004 - When you're a star quarterback in the NFL, you don't just have a career. There's also the little matter of your legacy. At the moment, Peyton Manning's can be defined not so much by words, but by numbers: 0-3.

Indianapolis wary of Denver's run game with Portis set to return - Denver Post - Adam Schefter
Thursday, January 01, 2004 - The last time the Broncos played at Indianapolis, less than two weeks ago, they piled up 227 rushing yards. Sunday, Denver will have back running back Clinton Portis, who appears fully recovered from his high ankle sprain.

MVP vote is a dead heat - Indianapolis Star - Mike Chappell
January 1, 2004 - The votes have been cast, and those obtained by The Indianapolis Star confirm the expected: The race for the NFL's MVP award is a two-quarterback affair. The Indianapolis Colts' Peyton Manning and his Tennessee Titans counterpart, Steve McNair, are the clear front-runners, according to ballots that were cast and acquired earlier this week. The Associated Press-sanctioned MVP award, which is universally recognized, will be announced Friday afternoon.

Playoff tickets slow to move - Indianapolis Star - Mark Alesia
January 1, 2004 - The Colts announced a sellout Wednesday, but the second home playoff game in the team's 20 years in Indianapolis has hardly created a ticket-buying frenzy. Sunday's game against Denver took 11 days to sell out after season ticket holders bought what they wanted and tickets went on sale to the public. Compare that to other cities playing host to first-round playoff games: Baltimore (20 minutes), Carolina (40 minutes), Green Bay (19 hours). Ticket brokers, who operate legally in Indiana, reported limited demand Wednesday.

Vanderjagt again is Player of the Month - Indianapolis Star - Phil Richards
January 1, 2004 - If AFC Special Teams Player of the Month were a distinction accompanied by a stone plaque, it would be time to call the engraver. The NFL announced Wednesday that Indianapolis Colts place-kicker Mike Vanderjagt has won the award for December. Just like he did in November. And October.

Could this be Sharpe's last game? - Indianapolis Star - Phillip B. Wilson
January 1, 2004 - The question was inevitable, and Shannon Sharpe responded to it like a veteran player with media savvy, mindful of a room full of inquiring minds. Could Sunday's AFC wild-card playoff game at Indianapolis be the last for the Denver Broncos' likely future Hall of Fame tight end?

Cast-Iron: With Hand Covered, Herndon Plans to Play - Andrew Mason
Wednesday, December 31, 2003 - For cornerback Kelly Herndon, there is one advantage that comes with donning a cast on his left hand, a protective apparatus that extends to his wrist and lower forearm. "I won't be able to hold with it," he said. "I'll try to get my hands up and get good at bumping at the line."

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