Peyton Manning Press Conference

Peyton Manning talks to the media about the Ravens' defense, expectations, Johnny Unitas and more...

(on facing Ed Reed, Ray Lewis and Baltimore's defense)
"The entire defense is a tremendous challenge. Those two players are very special, but really all of them, they're outstanding and all three phases of the defense tackle real well, they all run real well, so we have a big-time challenge in front of us from an offensive standpoint."

(on if he approaches the game the same anyway knowing he is facing a defense like Baltimore's)
"You always want to be sharp, obviously, but a lot of the same, general principles in place. You want to protect the ball and convert on third down and if you get down there inside the red zone, you want to try to get a touchdown. They're No. 1 I think in third downs and No. 1 in the red zone as well, so everything that you want to do, I'm sure that all teams want to do, Baltimore does an excellent job of defending that. So, you just want to try to be sharp offensively and find a way to protect the ball and score some points."

(on still trying to do what the Colts do)
"We have no choice. They are excellent across the board, and really there are no weaknesses in the entire defense. But we have to try to find a way to make some plays and get some points on the board, if possible."

(on the Baltimore defense)
"They do an excellent job in the run game and the pass game. They give up like 75 yards a game in the run game, and what that is doing is putting a lot of teams in 2nd-and-longs and 3rd-and-longs and putting them in tough passing situations. So, like I said, both of their defenses against the run and the pass really complement each other and that puts offenses in tough situations."

(on if it is tough to figure out Baltimore's defense)
"They're good across the board. They have great schemes and they have outstanding players, which I think usually is what makes up a great defense. The players they have, not only can they run, but they're smart, and so that allows them to do the different variety of things that they can do."

(on how much the communication with his receivers on the sidelines is a part of his preparation and game)
"I think it's critical. It's been more prominent the past number of years since we've gone to the no-huddle offense. That's really the only time that we get to communicate as far as what is going on out there on the field and any ideas or suggestions that Marvin (Harrison) or Reggie (Wayne) may have. Just to be able to talk a little bit, because a lot of times, teams do that, they will come back to the huddle and have a chance to talk in the huddle before the next play. But we don't have that chance. We're trying to keep the tempo going and trying to constantly get plays run. So, the sideline is a good time to communicate and those receivers do a good job of communicating and giving suggestions, whether it's to me or to (Offensive Coordinator) Tom (Moore). I think that's a real credit to those guys for being into the game."

(on being patient with your running game against a defense like Baltimore's)
"There's no question that you want to try to be two-dimensional if you can, have some passing game and some running game. Baltimore, that's what they do a great job of. They do a great job on the first-down runs. You watch the game film and you see so many 2nd-and-10s, you see some 2nd-and-12s, some 2nd-and-15s, and teams throw on that down and (if it's) incomplete, then it's 3rd-and-15 and then they're punting. So, obviously you want to be able to execute both in the pass game and the run game, but there's a chance it could be tough sledding. Certainly, you need to persevere and hopefully stay with your plan and find a way to make some plays, whether it's in the passing game or the run game."

(on if the Colts' defense playing well allows him to take more chances)
"I think you have to be careful. I think you have to go into each game, preparing as if you're going to have to score points. If you go in there and say, ‘Well, hey, our defense is going to hold them, we don't have to try as hard to score here,' then you can get yourself in trouble. That's why, if you get down in the redzone, you definitely want to get a touchdown instead of a field goal. Your job as an offense is to score points. It's certainly nice when both sides of the ball are feeding off each other. When the defense is creating turnovers for us, we like to be able to help them out and finish that with a touchdown. It's always nice when after we had a turnover (vs. Kansas City), the defense held them to a field goal try, which they missed. So, obviously to win in the playoffs, you need have the whole team playing together and feeding off each other. In this kind of game, everybody needs to do their part, and certainly offensively, we need to do our part this week."

(on why it is tough to come from behind in the playoffs)
"Playing against good teams. Obviously, it's tough to fall behind against good teams. When you get a lead in playoff games, you feel like you ought to be able to keep it. Good teams ought to be able to keep the lead and protect it. It's whoever that plays better on Saturday that's going to win."

(on if it's important to get a good start and get the lead early on the road)
"It's always nice, but I think you have to be careful of putting too much emphasis on that, and then if it doesn't happen, then there really shouldn't be any kind of panic or anything. But sure, it's always nice if possible. It's a tough place to play, extremely loud. If you can do that, sure, I'm all for it, but the idea is it's going to be a four-quarter game and to have a chance at the end to win the game is really all you can ask for."

(on if taking more of the criticism when the team loses comes with the territory as a ‘franchise quarterback')
"Yes, I guess. I've never really tried to explain it or tried to justify it by any means. I've always looked at it like, when we've won a game, Saturday when we won, the Colts won. When we lose, the Colts lose. Usually, the times we've lost in the past in the playoffs, the cut-and-dry of it is I don't think our team was good enough. Other people have other explanations, other answers, but that is kind of how I seem to view it. The better team usually wins in the playoffs, certainly the team that is going to play better. Hopefully we can do that this week, but we have a tough challenge."

(on if there is any more sense of urgency now than there was before)
"I think any professional football player ought to play with a sense of urgency. With injuries and the physical toll this game can take on you, I think if you stop playing for next year, I never really have done that. I've always played for the moment. When you have an opportunity in front of you, you want to try to take advantage of it, especially in this game now with free agency and coaching changes and trades or whatever, injuries. It's been well-documented how you should try to take advantage of the opportunity you have now and certainly play every year with a tremendous sense of urgency. That's how I've always done it and certainly this year is very much the same."

(on if he thought he would see TE-Dallas Clark back this season following his injury vs. Philadelphia)
"It's great to have Dallas back. You always like to have some of your best players out there. When he got hurt against Philly, you hear rumors and whispers, they say it's an ACL…I think it's a real credit to him, though, for putting in the time, the extra time to rehab and get back. I think it was a real key for him to get back for that last regular-season game, so the playoff game wasn't his first game back. It's a real credit to Dallas and his work ethic about wanting to be back here for his teammates, and certainly all of his teammates, and especially me, have appreciated him coming back. He had a great game Saturday and he will be a big part of this gameplan on this Saturday in Baltimore."

(on going back to Baltimore and the history of the Colts, does the game mean anything more because of QB-Johnny Unitas and who that is)
"It's always been a little bit uncomfortable, I guess, for me. I never got to see Johnny Unitas play, but I kind of knew how good of a player he was and how special he was because people always would ask my dad, ‘Who were your favorite players growing up?' He always said, ‘Mickey Mantle and Johnny Unitas.' That kind of shed the light of what an impact Unitas had on people, young people, and certainly this game. I realize we play in different cities, but I am proud to wear the same uniform that he wore. Anytime you get into some of these records that he had, I still just look at it like he's still way, way up. Since I haven't seen every quarterback that's ever played, and my dad says that Johnny Unitas was the best to ever play, that's kind of what I go with as well. And just kind of what he did to the whole game of football, especially the passing game. He was just a true innovator. What he and Raymond Berry did, you hear about the true timing passing game, and this is just things that I've read and things that I hear about word-of-mouth from people I respect, former coaches and former players. But anytime my name gets kind of mentioned in there along the same lines, whether it's a record or something, it's a little bit awkward for me. I'd rather other people talk about it as opposed to me. And I've always said it was a real pleasure and a real treat the four or five times I got to be around him, a couple of banquets, a couple of events. He was always very nice to me and you always appreciate that he kind of watched me play. I don't think he was necessarily pulling for my team to win, but he told me he kind of enjoyed watching me play. So, that was a real compliment coming from somebody like him."


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