Manning: "We're Feeding Off Of Each Other"

Colts quarterback Peyton Manning met with the media late last week after practice. Here are the highlights of what he had to say about tonight's big game in Foxboro.

(On if he is going into this game with a better feeling about this team than the ones in the past)
"It's hard to say. We've always had good teams around here for the past few years. All we are is off to a good start. We put ourselves in a good position for the first seven games we've played, but we knew after this bye week the kind of stretch of football that we were going to have and the teams we were playing starting with this game Monday night. So, this will really tell the tale what kind of team we are, what kind of team we have, starting on Monday. Hopefully, like I said, we can start this, really the second half of the season on a good note."

(On how much it helps this year because the Colts are a more balanced team with an improved defense)
"I think that's what you have to have to be truly a good team, to be able to play well in hopefully all three phases—offense, defense and special teams. But I think we're feeding off of each other right now, defense giving the offense good field position, and offensively, we're trying to keep our defense out of tough spots. We're protecting the ball for the most part. We're not having many penalties. We're still hoping our special teams can come through and give us some more field position. But in order to beat good teams, you have to be able to play well in all three of those phases. And we've done that so far this year, but I think we still need to get even better."

(On Mike Vanderjagt's lack of field goal opportunities this season and still counting on him)
"Sure, Mike's always there, he's always ready. We know what we have in him. We certainly know and Tom Moore knows that when we cross a certain part of the field that we are in field goal range. And you take that into account, knowing, ‘Hey, we have three,' but you'd like to be able to go ahead and score seven. That's always been the mentality. He's always good to go and always ready. No doubt, everybody has a lot of confidence in him, but the idea is when you get down there in the red zone to try to put touchdowns up. At the same time, if you have to settle for three, we know we're in good shape in that category."

(On the return of LB-Tedy Bruschi and what it means to the Patriots)
"He's certainly been one of their leaders for the past numbers of years. I can't speak for them, but I know any time a team gets back a veteran player, a player that's been around there for a long time and has made a lot of plays for them, it's certainly a boost to their team."

(On if he enjoys a game like this with high-profile quarterbacks)
"I enjoy it. It's an exciting game. Obviously, these are the kind of games that you like to play in. When the game is on the cover of major magazines before the game, that tells you it's a pretty big game. Usually, it may be after a game. So I think our players are excited. Our rookies are excited. This is why you play in the NFL, to be in games like this. I'm just excited that we're playing good football right now. We've put ourselves in a position where this game is attracting a lot of attention, but at the same time, all of that's going to be over with once kickoff starts. But these are fun games to play in, no question about it."

(On with the history between these two clubs, would a win mean anything more than usual)
"No. Like I said, the important thing is to win this game because it's an AFC game. (Head) Coach (Tony) Dungy always, you've heard me say it over and over again, he points out how important AFC games are, how they are more important than playing an NFC team. The most important games are your division games. But when you're playing a team like New England, who is going to be there in the postseason, this is a great test to see what kind of team you are. When you play against a good team, you sort of see where you stack up. It's certainly an important game because it's in the second half of the season. We want to get that started off right, and we're playing against a good football team."

(On if there is any common denominator in games up there and why they haven't won)
"I think you have to play, and it's an old cliché, but it's a true 60-minute game. Every game that these guys play, they're in it until the end. Usually, they're winning there at the end, or even if somebody's beaten, it's due to a fourth-quarter drive or a big third-down conversion in the fourth-quarter. That's how it's going to be. It's going to be a four-quarter game, overtime, you never know what to expect, but you have to make plays throughout the game and have disciplined football on both sides of the ball because these guys know how to win close games. But we feel we do as well. That's kind of what you expect it to be."

(On if the mark of a good quarterback is doing whatever is asked, whether it's keeping balance or putting up big numbers)
"I think we've surprised some teams with our patience this year. I think teams, certain teams week to week, have kind of said, ‘Hey, let's see if they can run the ball. Let's see if they will be patient down there in the red zone.' We've been a throw-the-ball-down-the-field offense because sometimes that's what teams have allowed us to do and given us those chances. We feel like we can play any kind of game that we have to. We can play somewhat of a smash-mouth, we can throw it 25 times in a row like we did against Green Bay or run it 12 plays in a row like we did against New England one time last year. That's the nice thing about the flexibility of this offense and (Offensive Coordinator) Tom (Moore) and his play-calling, usually going to call what's working. I've always felt that I could play that game. The games are shorter now. We're going longer drives. Our defense is giving up some long drives but keeping them off the scoreboard, and possessions are not as many as they have been in the past, but we're winning games, and that's what it's all about."

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