Peyton Manning can be a media darling, but then there are days when it’s no secret the quarterback isn’t in the mood to say much.
His Wednesday conference call with Indianapolis Colts media sure sounded like the latter.
Manning was asked if he could appreciate the irony of Sunday’s AFC Divisional playoff matchup, when he will lead the Denver Broncos against his former team, the Colts, at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. He probably never expected to be preparing for a playoff game against the Colts, right?
“Well, certainly not while I was playing for the Colts,” he said of his 14 seasons with the organization through 2011.
Perhaps he was trying to crack a joke, but considering his well-known sense of humor on TV commercials and even Saturday Night Live, this wasn’t all that funny.
“That probably would be hard to do, wouldn’t you think?” he said. “Yeah. I’m not so sure I missed the question or not.”
Sounds like the five-time NFL MVP did miss the question, which was repeated.
“I think we’ve kind of covered that before,” he said. “I’ve been three years here in Denver. This will be the third time playing against them. I played against them last year. Played against them earlier this year, so we’ve kind of been down that road before.”
Manning and the Broncos defeated the Colts 31-24 in Denver in the season opener. And the Colts ruined his Indianapolis homecoming in 2013 with a 39-33 victory at Lucas Oil Stadium.
“This is a team you certainly expected to see in the postseason,” Manning said. “When we played them earlier in the season, you certainly knew they were a team that was going to be in the postseason. Obviously it’s been our goal to get this point, but you knew, there’s just certain teams that you play in the regular season whether it’s the Colts or the Patriots, that if you do your job and get to the postseason, you certainly expect to possibly see them again.”
The inevitable quarterback comparisons of Manning and Andrew Luck meant at least one question about his nemesis, a longtime family friend and former Manning Passing Academy counselor as a youngster.
But Manning was kind of understated about if he appreciated Luck’s NFL growth in three years.
“Well, it’s not surprising at all,” he said. “When you combine somebody with as much ability as he has with, from what you hear about it, just a great work ethic. It’s not surprising that he’s had the success that he’s had, and he’s had such a big impact on their offense playing so well.”
The Broncos have had a bye week to rest while the Colts bounced the Cincinnati Bengals 26-10 in an AFC Wild Card playoff game at Lucas Oil Stadium. The week off undoubtedly helped two of Manning’s key pass catchers, wide receiver Demaryius Thomas and tight end Julius Thomas, who have been nursing injuries.
But, again, Manning was rather tight-lipped.
“Yeah, that’s probably a little too much or private information I guess for our team, what goes on at our practice field,” he said.
Asked how those two looked, he said, “Same thing. I think it’s along the same lines, isn’t it? Yeah.”
The Broncos have resorted to more of a rushing attack in the latter part of the preseason, which prompted speculation that something is wrong with Manning, who did have a thigh injury and came down with the flu before another game.
But don’t ask Manning if the Broncos made a conscious effort to get the run game going.“It’s a little bit of just our offense and kind of some things that we’ve tried to do to help us win the football game,” he said. “Every game kind of takes on a different identity and you never quite know how it’s going to unfold. We just try to find different ways to win football games I guess is the main thing.”
In other words, in case anyone wasn’t paying attention, the less said the better about specifics regarding the Broncos or personnel or playing style, too.
Does Manning have confidence the Broncos can return to the Super Bowl?
“Like I said, we’re just trying to take care of just a good week of practice right now this week,” he said. “We’ve been through a lot this season. We’ve had different injuries and overcome some things and so hopefully everything that we’ve been through in the regular season has prepared us for all the things that come up possibly during a playoff game.
“We had a good practice today and we’re going to try and have a good rest of the week. All we’re focused on is trying to do our best against a good team on Sunday. That’s really the focus. Just like we’ve done all season, just kind of one step at a time.”
Phillip B. Wilson can be found on Twitter (@pwilson24), Facebook and Google+.