Manning's Thoughts on "The Big Game"

Peyton Manning talked about the evolution of the Colts and the Patriots, the similarities between him and Tom Brady, and even what was said in the huddle prior to the touchdown that won the AFC Championship last year as he answered 15 questions for the media this week.

On the roll that New England's (QB) Tom Brady is on compared to Peyton Manning in 2004...

"He's playing great. Obviously any time as a quarterback you are always trying to get into that rhythm, that zone, whatever you want to call it. It certainly adds a great deal of confidence with your receivers when you feel like these guys are getting open. You are throwing passes before they're coming out of their breaks, you anticipate where they are going to be every play that is called, you kind of feel like it's going to work, it's going to be a touchdown. He's (Tom Brady) done a great job getting on the same page with these three new receivers, which is really impressive because usually that takes time, it takes a couple of off-seasons. And what he's done in a short period of time to get his timing down with those guys is awfully impressive. They are playing great on offense."

On Peyton Manning and Tom Brady having similar personalities...

"I've got a lot of respect for Tom (Brady) for the way he's always played, he's always prepared. Certainly what he's doing this year as a quarterback is very impressive. To have 30 touchdowns and two (2) interceptions…I think that's the thing you have to add together at the halfway point. It's truly remarkable and hopefully we can slow him down a little bit."

On being underdogs against the Patriots...

"I really haven't paid a whole lot of attention to it. I hardly ever really know what the point spread is or who's favored. I know it's a really old boring cliché, but I really think that in the NFL today, anybody can beat anybody on any given day. I hardly ever look to see who's playing and say, "Well so and so will beat them." On the airplane when we land and I hear the pilot announce the scores nothing surprises me anymore as far as who is beating who. Certainly these guys are playing great. They have beaten the teams that they have played. They have beaten them badly. What they do a great job of is exploiting your mistakes. If you make mistakes, they definitely take advantage of it. So it's important hopefully for us to, you certainly want to try to play mistake free football every single game, which I don't know if that is possible or not, but certainly try to minimize our mistakes."

On facing the Patriots 3-4 defense...

"Some teams have played a version of the 3-4, but the Patriots actually mix it up as well. The thing that they have always done is they could be a 3-4 on one play and the next play they could be four down and then the next play they could have all eleven guys standing up. They give you plenty to think about and every play kind of makes you be on your toes and being alert and aware of what they're doing. They have multiple substitutions with all the veteran linebackers they have. Those guys, it seems to me are pretty interchangeable. They all can play different roles. You never quite know who they're going to be on that given Sunday. Like we were saying earlier, you have to just adjust to what they are going to do."

On the Patriots defense being better this year then last year...

"Certainly their offense is getting a lot of attention, but from what I have seen of their defense, they are playing great. They have added a couple of players and they seem to be as healthy as they have ever been, just getting (Richard) Seymour back and just making a lot of plays. I think one of the big reasons their offense is scoring a lot of points is their defense is creating a lot of turnovers and getting them some short fields. That's what you are always looking for in your defense. It'll be a real test for our offense to get the running game and the passing game going because they're stingy against both. They are ranked high statistically in the run-game and the pass-game and it will be a tough test for us."

On facing a team that comes out with something new every week...

"It's kind of a good thing. It's one less thing that you have to study for during the week. It's something that you certainly try to concentrate on doing your job and executing your job, doing the fundamentals correctly. That's where sideline adjustments or halftime adjustments certainly come into play or even sometimes out there on the field—communication between the receivers and me or the linemen and me as far as what they are doing and the little wrinkle they may have. I think that the biggest key is while you are adjusting to whatever it is they may be doing, make the worst thing that can happen an incomplete pass or a punt, but not a turnover or not a sack for a loss of ten yards or an interception. That's the big thing, trying to be as efficient as possible while you are trying to adjust to what they are doing."

On the evolution of Colt offense...

"I think it's a combination. It somewhat has to do with sort of how the defenses are playing us. We are certainly always looking to score as quickly as we can. Every play, Tom Moore always talks about first downs and then touchdowns, but if you block everybody on every play hopefully you should have a touchdown. Defenses are doing somewhat of, kind of keeping everything in front, so you do have to be patient. Certainly every drive we get the ball, we want to go out there and try and put some points on the board. We are pretty balanced. At the bye-week, we did a breakdown and we were almost equal in our run attempts and our pass attempts and that's kind of what we try to do, is to be balanced and get the running game going and get some play-action and some drop-back passes off of that."


Reggie Wayne
Andy Lyons/Getty

On the performance of Reggie Wayne...

"Reggie is playing great. Obviously when Marvin (Harrison) is not in there that's a big adjustment for us and a big loss for us. When some of your top players are down you lean on the guys that have been there year-in and year-out. Reggie has always been unbelievably consistent, and certainly when Marvin is not in there we are going to look for ways and try to create even more ways to try and get him the ball. Some of the plays and catches that he made against Carolina really got us back going again. We were in a little bit of a rut I guess you could say, and he made some plays to really get us out of the hole and kind of help us get the lead and put the game away."

On Joseph Addai being more comfortable in his role...

"I do see Joe (Addai) more comfortable and I think that's only normal being in his second year. He's been here the entire off-season. He's had a chance to study the plays that he was involved in last year. I think as a rookie in this offense you're still always not quite as confident as exactly what the hole is going to look like or what the pass pattern is going to look like. The experience he had as a rookie was truly valuable. The repetitions he was able to get throughout 20 something games, he's used that experience to his advantage and he's playing extremely well in the running game and in the passing game and protecting well. He's a big part of what we are doing on offense."

On avoiding the hype of the game...

"It's an important game because obviously it's an AFC game. Realignment was one of the greatest days of my life, getting out of that AFC East, and now I feel we are in the toughest division in football. So now sometimes you wish you could go back…kind of the first scores that I check when we land on the plane, I want to see how the Giants did obviously, but then you want to see how Houston, Jacksonville and Tennessee did. You hear Tennessee's won, you hear Jacksonville's won and both of these teams are 5-2. So here we are undefeated and we feel like we barely have a lead in the division. It's such an important game for us as Tony (Dungy) talks about, to try to stay ahead in the division. You don't want to give anything back to Tennessee or Jacksonville or Houston. New England probably could clinch the AFC East this week I think with the lead they have on the division. It's such an important game from that standpoint for us just trying to stay ahead of the division. Now the fact that both teams are undefeated, it's going to be a great match-up for the fans. It's the kind of game you want to play in, it's exciting, but for us you are trying to win the game because you want to try to stay ahead of the pack."

On avoiding the hype...

"I think Coach Dungy talks about that. Those are the kind of games that you do like to play in. If nobody's talking about your game it means you're probably not playing that good of football. Those are the kind of games you want to play in. I never really liked that term "Playoff-type atmosphere." It either is the playoffs or it's not. This is a regular season game, but for us we are playing an excellent football team, playing here at home. I know our fans will be excited. It's our first time being at home in quite some time, so they'll be excited. We are going to need everyone to play well for us to have a chance to win."

On Bill Belichick using bulletin board material to inspire his team...

"I think our team is trying to be focused and trying to enjoy the week and the atmosphere and playing in this big game. It's not a phony or a fake comment when we talk about the respect that we have for their team and for how well they are playing. At the same time, we have given bulletin board material in the past and I don't necessarily think that's the reason we've lost the game, but hopefully guys will handle themselves the right way this week and as I say, let the compliment fest begin. Hopefully our guys will say the right things."

On fewest sacks per pass attempt...

"The protection has been outstanding. I tell you, those guys have fought hard. It's been some different guys in there playing. Charlie Johnson has stepped in the past game and a half and played well for us and of course the mainstays Jeff (Saturday) and Jake (Scott) and Ryan Lilja and Ryan Diem have played outstanding. A lot of that time also is the combination of the tight-ends and the backs protecting as well. Those receivers are doing a good job of trying to get open on time, realizing that you don't have all day to throw back there and to have a sense of urgency, and we are trying to get the ball out of our hands on time. I've been real proud and appreciative of the protection we've received."

On Joseph Addai scoring against Patriots last year in the playoffs, would Coach Dungy have gone for it or kicked the field goal...

"t's funny, (Bill) Belichick asked me that over there at the Pro Bowl, the very same question. I said we kind of didn't want Tony (Dungy) to have to decide was sort of my answer. We wanted to score on third down. I couldn't tell you, I think he'd have to tell you and I don't think he'd reveal. He has a pretty good poker face. I know it was after a timeout and when we called that play in the huddle, the line and backs, we were truly kind of putting it on them and the tight ends to make this a play and not have to try to tie the game. It was real credit to the line and the backs for getting that ball in the end-zone."

On conversation in the huddle when play was called...

"We had a two-minute warning, so we has some time to talk about on the sideline and then we ran the ball. I think they called the timeout after the second down if I recall. It was third and two. I think if it was third and longer you might look at it differently. The thing about it was on 1st-and-10 we got four and then I think on 2nd-and-6 we got four. I think we could still get a first down if I recall. You kind of look at what's working. We threw the ball to get down there for those particular three plays. I think it was our 85th and 86th play of the game, which was something that we took into account. You figure those guys were a little bit fatigued and so the run game is what was working at that point."


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