Press Pass: Peyton Manning

In this edition of "Press Pass," Colts quarterback Peyton Manning talks about the meaning of a Super Bowl victory, facing the Buccaneers linebackers and the impact his coach, Tony Dungy, has had on him.

Who makes the better commercials — you or coach (Tony) Dungy?

Well coach's (commercials) were great last year, so him.

Peyton, what do you remember about that comeback victory over the Buccaneers four years ago?

It's been a long time. Obviously it was a good comeback against a great team that Tampa had. They had so many great players. But both teams have changed a pretty good bit. There are new players on both sides. It was a good comeback, but those guys never gave up.

Peyton, you've probably answered this a million times, so make this one million and one. How has your life changed since winning the Super Bowl?

It's changed my life? That's probably too strong, I guess. As far as how it has affected this season, it really hasn't. (General manager) Bill Polian and Tony Dungy addressed us before the season and said there really isn't any such thing as a defending champion. There's the 2006 champion and 2007 is to be determined. So we're right in the middle, like a lot of other teams, of trying to get better each week. That's been our approach. The one thing I can say about this team is that we've always put the previous season behind us. Obviously there have been some pretty disappointing playoff losses, but we have never run from it. We've addressed it and moved on. We've gotten better from it. In my opinion, what we did last year, even though we did finish and complete our goal, we've moved on from last year. It's also a new team this year. We lost a lot of players this season and we're still trying to form this 2007 team's identity. It takes time for these guys to step and forge their identity and they're still doing that. But coach talks about breaking the season into quarters. We had a good first quarter and this is the first game of our second quarter and we're playing the best team, by far, this week against Tampa.

Is it a relief to you, or to your family at least, that the "But" is removed?

I never really said, "Yeah, but…" in talking about myself. I never really got too far into that. I will say that there have been new questions that I've had to answer. One of the benefits is that I haven't had to answer that one question and that was getting old. It was a legitimate question, but you get tired of answering it. I am glad I don't have to answer that question.

You've got a former teammate coming to town this weekend in Cato June. What, if anything, can he glean from going against you in practice the past few years? Can he tell anything about the hand gestures you make?

It's funny because this is the fifth week in a row we've played against a former teammate that had been here for multiple years. Jason David with the Saints, Nick Harper with the Titans, Houston had somebody and then Brandon Stokley last week. Now Cato. It's kind of an unusual trend. Cato was a great player and a great teammate for us, great to have in the locker room. I was disappointed to see him leave. I was happy for him, but I was disappointed he wouldn't be with us any longer. You take it into account each week. You change some things, you'll come up with some different signals and audibles to keep things fresh and new.

A follow-up on the hand gesture question. When you're in the no-huddle, how much of that is your responsibility? Does it come from the bench or is it all on you at that point?

It varies. Tom Moore (Colts offensive coordinator) will ask me a lot during the week (what plays I like) and we'll try to be on the same page. A lot of times if he's calling the play, I don't have to hear the whole thing — I know what he's going to call. Often I'll change the play and call an audible and he has a pretty good idea of what I'm changing the play to. We talk a lot about that during the week.

Obviously Dungy is a big story line here. Talk about this impact on you as a player and a person?

Coach Dungy has been a great coach for us and for all of our players. He's very organized, very detail-oriented and he tries to get players to take care of the little details. He often talks about if you take care of the little things, the big things will take care of themselves. The team has really bought into his philosophies. He's been a great leader for us. As a person, he's one of a kind.

Peyton, when you look at the Bucs defense, they still play the Tampa 2. But can you talk about what you've seen from the three linebackers, with the addition of June and the emergence of Barrett Ruud? Marc Bulger (Rams quarterback) was saying that it's almost like a Cover 5 because those guys can drop and come up and tackle.

Across the board it's an outstanding defense. But the linebackers are extremely fast. They've always been one of the most instinctive groups around. They cover a ton of ground. Cato is very much in that same mode. He's very quick and he trusts his instincts. Ruud is playing well in the middle for them. Those guys can cover a lot of ground for them. They can close on the ball, they're tackling very well and they're doing a good job of creating some fumbles and turnovers to get their offense in good field position. Just like any game, protecting the football will be important against these guys.

Brett Favre set the record for touchdown passes and his team is off to a good start. Do you think it's more interesting when the Packers are in it and what do you think about what he's accomplishing this season?

It was great to see him break that record. We had the game on in the locker room so we got to see it live and it was really exciting. I called Brett on Monday to congratulate them. They're an NFC team, so Tampa probably has more interest in them than we do. But he's certainly playing real well and that team is off to a good start.

Could you ever see yourself challenging that record or is it just too far out there?

You're talking about a guy that is in his 15th year and I'm in my 10th. It's kind of far-fetched. As a quarterback you appreciate it because that's a lot of touchdowns every year. He's started every game and he's answered the bell for his team every year. It's extremely admirable.


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