Coaches tend not to want to start rookies at important positions, but fourth-rounder Barry Cofield won the job at nose tackle. He's spent the week busily perusing tapes, not necessarily of Peyton Manning, but of veteran center Jeff Saturday and guards Jake Scott and Ryan Lilja.
Because of the Colts' liberal use of the no-huddle offense, the rookie is preparing for an extended, exhausting, all-day battle against the linemen and running backs Dominic Rhodes, who finished the preseason with 17 carries for 46 yards, and rookie Joseph Addai, who finished with 21 carries for 32 yards and a touchdown.
"You have to be ready for those 15-play series because it's hard to get subs in against that," Cofield said. "Unless there's a dead ball, you can't get the subs in."
--MLB Antonio Pierce indicated he watched a lot of Pittsburgh's AFC Semifinal playoff win over the Colts in preparation for the game, mainly to see how the constant pressure of S Troy Polamalu and others turned Peyton Manning into an ordinary quarterback. "Anytime one team dominates another team, you look at it," Pierce said. "We're similar to Pittsburgh in some ways, so I can relate to what they were doing in the middle."
--Peyton (Colts) and Eli (Giants) are both former NFL No. 1 draft picks and are the first brothers in league history to start in the same game.
--What with all the attention being paid to the Manning brothers reunion this week, they are not the only players in Sunday night's game to have siblings currently playing in the NFL. Giants running back Tiki Barber is the twin brother of Tampa Bay cornerback Ronde Barber. New York backup quarterback Tim Hasselbeck is the brother of Seattle quarterback Matt Hasselbeck while Giants rookie receiver Sinorice Moss is the younger brother of Washington Redskins receiver Santana Moss.
--Colts president and general manager Bill Polian is a native of Bronx, N.Y., where he attended Mt. St. Michael Academy and New York University.
--Giants senior vice president and general manger Ernie Accorsi served as the general manager of the Colts from 1982-83 when the franchise was in Baltimore. Accorsi was also the Colts' public relations director from 1970 to 1975 and was the team's assistant general manager in 1977.
--New York offensive coordinator John Hufnagel was the Colts' quarterback coach in 2001.
--Giants fullback Jim Finn played with the Colts from 2000 to 2003. He signed with New
York on March 11, 2003.
--New York rookie defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka attended Cathedral High School in Indianapolis before moving on to Boston College.
COLTS GAME PLAN: Dictate on offense and control the line of scrimmage on defense. Those are probably the two biggest keys to an Indianapolis win over the Giants. The Colts will pitch the ball all over the field, trying to spread out the New York defense and keep the Giants on their heels. Precision and timing will be keys if Indianapolis hopes to be successful at moving the ball on a consistent basis Sunday night.
Defensively, the Colts will attempt to keep the pressure on Eli Manning and forced him into making bad decisions. Indianapolis can not let the Giants' running game get going in a big way, hoping instead to keep New York in a lot of long yardage situations.
GIANTS GAME PLAN: As they attempt to improve on a shaky pass defense of last season, the Giants have no choice but to approach the Colts in a defensively aggressive fashion. They'll probably take a page from Pittsburgh's playoff semifinal victory last season and besiege Peyton Manning with pressure from all angles, while making sure to hold off on the charge long enough so they don't get suckered into Manning's audibles. In other words, the defense doesn't want to show its hand too early and allow Manning to figure out where the passing adjustments are.
On the other side, the offensive line will have all to do to keep Dwight Freeney's pass-rush under control. A solid ground game can neutralize the damage potential. Look for a lot of quick screens.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "If a guy's about to go down, we have to lay that extra hit on them to let them know we're going to be there for 60 minutes." -- Giants S Gibril Wilson on the secondary's need to be physical against the Colts' receivers, ala New England's philosophy against them in the 2003 AFC Championship game.
BY THE NUMBERS:
0-4 -- New York coach Tom Coughlin's career coaching record against the Colts. Those losses came when he was the head coach at Jacksonville.
46-30-5 -- The Giants' record on opening day, which includes a 14-10 mark on season-opening home games and a 12-7 mark in season-opening games at Giants Stadium.
7-3 -- Tom Coughlin's opening day record, including 1-1 with the Giants.
27 -- The leaguewide ranking of the Giants' pass defense in 2005, which they hoped was remedied by an almost total rebuild of the secondary in free agency.
128 -- Colts quarterback Peyton Manning has made 128 consecutive starts during his career. It's the longest career-opening streak by any quarterback in league history.
5-1 – Colts opening day record over the past six years. The lone loss was a 27-24 decision to the New England Patriots in 2004.
77-35 -- Indianapolis has posted the best regular-season record in the NFL since the start of the 1999 season.
6 -- The Colts are the only team in the league to have earned six playoff appearances over the past seven seasons.
22 -- Indianapolis has won 22 of its last 25 regular-season games.
29-24 – The Colts opening day record since 1953, including a record of 15-16 against AFC teams and 14-8 against NFC opponents.
6-4 -- Indianapolis coach Tony Dungy's record on opening day. He has a 2-2 record against the Giants and is 2-1 in head-to-head meetings with Tom Coughlin-coached teams.
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