Manning: Both Teams Know What's At Stake

Peyton Manning talks to the media about the benefit of a long break, the progress of some of his teammates, the importance of a good practice, and how the Colts knew at the beginning of the season that this game would be the most important one they played all year!

On 10 days off and being refreshed...

"I certainly hope so. That was kind of the idea. It's the tough part about playing on that Thursday, it's a short week, but afterwards you hope you can benefit from it from a rest standpoint and hopefully get some guys back out there that have been banged up. We need to have three good practices this week and get ready to go on Sunday."

On the significance of this game...

"We knew when the schedule came out, the way it was set up, our first three division games we're going to have to go on the road and then our last three were all going to be in the month of December and all at home. You knew all of them would be big, but you knew the second time around there would be more on the line. Just a tough way to start out the month of December, playing Jacksonville. We're glad to have them here at home, but they're playing really well. They're getting some guys back that have been injured and it's going to be a tough test for us."

On if there is anything different this time around from the first game...

"You never know. They're well-coached and they're always giving you different schemes, but the players are the same and that's what makes them so tough. They're strong from the D-line all the way throughout the secondary. One thing we did a pretty good job of in the first game was that we protected the ball well for the most part. We got down in the red zone a few times, had some touchdowns. We'd like not to have to settle for field goals. I think those two points of emphasis will be important again, to try to protect the ball and try to get some touchdowns down there in the red zone. And of course our defense did a great job of holding them to seven points."

On hearing it's the biggest game of the year for Jacksonville...

"It's a big game for us. Believe me, we're focused and we're prepared to have a good week of practice. We know it's going to take one of our best games in order to have a chance to win."

On fighting for division supremacy...

"When the schedule came out, we knew we had these last three division games in the month of December here at home. We know how important all of them will be, but maybe none more important than the one we're playing this Sunday. Jacksonville is playing well. We're 9-2, they're 8-3, basically neck-and-neck, so I think both teams know what's at stake, and it's one that both teams want to win."

On not taking winning the division for granted after winning it four consecutive years...

"Right here in the middle of the season you don't really think much about last year, but we certainly want to keep winning our games. We've always put a lot of emphasis on our division games, and we have an opportunity this Sunday to play against anther division team and a team that's 8-3 and playing really well. So everybody knows how important of a game it is."

On the importance of having a full team and good practice...

"Coach (Dungy) has emphasized that to us, and I would have to agree. I think the way you play on Sunday has a lot to do with how you practice during the week. Hopefully we can have more of a normal routine of practice this week with the normal schedule and get a few more bodies back out there maybe to kind of help the practice flow a little more smoothly. That's the idea this week, is we need to have a good week of preparation in order to have a chance to play well on Sunday."


WR Anthony Gonzalez
Chris Graythen/Getty Images

On getting back on track offensively at Atlanta...

"Certainly it's important for us to try to play well offensively against Jacksonville because their defense is stingy. They have their quarterback back, who is healthy, and we know what they're capable of on offense. We know how tough a test our defense has, so it's important for us to try to do our part, and hopefully we can."

On what dimension a healthy Anthony Gonzalez adds to the offense...

"He did a good job (at Atlanta). Obviously, just the more healthy bodies you can have back on your team the better. He did a good job. He showed some things with the ball after the catch, which was nice, which we need, to try to take a short pass or I think he took about a 16-yard pass and turned it into a 30-something yard gain. We'd like to have more of that from him this week as well."

On the running back tandem and what RB-Kenton Keith has added...

"Keith has done a good job coming in for (Joseph) Addai. We feel good with all the plays that we're calling with him in there, whether it's the pass plays or the run plays. He's done a good job of learning the system, getting comfortable with what we're doing. And that's been nice because any time, obviously you want Joe in there, but any time Joe feels like he needs to come out to get a breather, Kenton has done a good job coming in there making some big plays of his own."

On it being a fact of life that receivers are going to drop balls every once in a while...

"Yes, that's kind of part of it, I guess. It's not something that has kept me from throwing to the guy. You try to throw to the guy that's open. These guys, especially Dallas (Clark) and Reggie (Wayne), they've made so many plays throughout their time, so you're always going to keep giving them the ball and giving them chances. The plays they make far outweigh any ones that they don't make, so that's not a concern on my part."

On being surprised when Reggie Wayne and Dallas Clark have a dropped pass...

"Yes, especially those two are very consistent catchers of the football. They're so good at making things happen with the ball after the catch, so trust me, I will continue to throw to them."

On the job the Colts defense has done and helping out the offense...

"It's certainly helped us win games. Offensively, we want to try to do our part. That's the beauty about football, you have three phases of a team and everybody needs to do their part in order to help the team win. You want to try to feed off each other. Against Atlanta, they did a great job of giving us great field position, and we were able to capitalize on that field position for the most part with points and with touchdowns, especially in the first half. That will be important again, to try to keep them (the Colts defense) out of tough situations and hopefully they can put us in good situations to capitalize with some points."

On Jacksonville being one of the more physical defenses...

"They are a very physical defense. They tackle well, they surround the ball carrier, make a lot of plays with their hustle and energy, so it's important for us to try to match their intensity."


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