Remember the first series of the game against New England when Colts quarterback Peyton Manning had to scramble and threw the deep pass that Marvin Harrison caught for a 44-yard gain? Well I'm sure you saw Dallas Clark there ready to make what appeared to be a basket catch if Harrison didn't make the catch. So who was the pass intended for? Manning told the media how the play developed -- and that it was No. 88's ball all the way:
"It was a scramble play, Marvin did a great job, I kind of rolled out to the left…and Marvin, he's coming across the field," he explained. "Part of the scramble rules is that if you can't get open across the field, go up field. And Dallas tried to intercept it from Marvin. It was to Marvin all the way, I can assure you…That was a huge play…"
As to what the Colts offense had to take into consideration as they put together their gameplan for New England last week, Manning provided this strategic insight:
"They can give you the full gamut. You know, they can give you the seven-man blitz, they can give you the eight-man coverage and they do a good job of making them all look the same. So you kind of call plays that you hope are good versus both.
"If they blitz and you can pick them up, you ought to be able to win the one-on-one. If they all come out, you might have to dump it down to the back or take a check down. They do a good job of making them all look the same. That's one of the best things is their disguises."
The Colts were a bit surprised by the frequency of the blitz early on, but they made the necessary adjustments to move the chains, even though Manning took numerous hits and three sacks on the night.
"They were definitely -- to start the game especially -- bringing it, and I thought we did a good job answering," he said. (I) hit Reggie on the post route down there on that second series. Obviously, we would've liked to have scored some touchdowns there, we had that field position and we had to settle for field goals.
Critical to that success was Manning's ability to read defenses. And he gets better and better as the years have progressed. It's an attribute as a quarterback that Manning takes great pride in.
"I'm pretty good at reading things. I'll pat myself on the back for that," he said. "It works both ways, offensively our runs look like our play-actions. As much as they see it, you hope they honor both. You hope they have to honor the run and that play-action's there.
"Defensively, until the ball is snapped, a lot of times you can't tell what they're going to be in, you just take your reads and take your progressions. I felt like I had a good beat of what was going on out there.
But for even the man who has become revered for his ability to dissect defenses, he admitted it's not a perfect science no matter how easy he makes it look.
"I get up there and I make a judgment, I say what I think is going to happen," he said. "Am I right? No, not always. But what you don't want to do is call a run play when they're bringing them all up or call a two-man pass pattern when they're dropping eight. You try to call plays that are good versus both -- and just read it out.
"A good example was on the first play of the series. We had a five-guys releasing play. They dropped eight in coverage, I had Joe Addai over the middle and he slips. We had the right idea there, and just didn't make that particular play. We made some plays when they were blitzing: those plays down to Marvin down the sideline, Reggie on the post, Reggie on the break in, those were good plays early to kind of help us get some points and help us get the lead."
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