Manning: It's Going To Be A Challenge

Peyton Manning talked to the media earlier this week. The Colts' star QB talked at length about the challenges the Ravens' defense poses, and playing against LB Ray Lewis. See what else Manning had to say about the Colts' slow start, the offensive line, getting comfortable with tight end Tom Santi and more!

On moving in the right direction from the 2-2 record:

"We sure would like to. 2-2 is .500 football. That's not where you want to be. We break (the season) into quarters, and that's pretty average for the first quarter. The second quarter starts this week. We have a tremendous challenge with Baltimore and a tough schedule from here on out. It'll be a really tough start this Sunday. We'd like to find a little consistency. We'd like to win a couple in a row, or more than that if possible, instead of alternating back and forth. We're a little banged up, but we have to overcome that. A couple of guys have to step up. It's a big game and it's going to be a tough game. Their defense — which is all I'm focused on, I really haven't seen much of their offense — but the defense is as good if not better than it always has been with a lot of the same players. They're active and they're all over the place. (LB-Ray) Lewis, (CB-Chris) McAlister, (S-Ed) Reed, (LB-Terrell) Suggs, (LB-Bart) Scott, all the same guys. It's an excellent defense, so it's going to be a challenge on offense."

On the chess match between him and LB-Ray Lewis:

"That's a pretty good word for it, because they have so much flexibility on their defense. Ray and Ed Reed change some things up on defense, and I don't know if they're calling audibles or what, but those guys study a lot of film, and it's a credit to their defense for how much they can handle mentally. It's a very complex defense with multiple looks, multiple blitzes, and some teams don't do that because their players can't handle it. It's a credit to these guys. They can handle of lot of nickel blitz packages, whatever it may be. There is a little bit of that chess match between the quarterback and middle linebacker and safety. It's always a challenge moving the ball against these guys."

On Lewis talking to him at the line of scrimmage:

"I can hear him sometimes. He takes a lot of pride in his profession. I can just tell how much he studies when I play against him and watch him play and the times I've been around him at the Pro Bowl and talking football with him. He's very knowledgeable. You can tell he studies a lot. There have been plenty of times where Ray has called out the play we're running, and he's fairly accurate. If he's right, I'm not saying you can't execute the play, but it is extremely impressive the way he prepares for the mental aspect of it."

On how important staying two-dimensional on offense is this week:

"It's really important to try to stay out of the 3rd-and-longs. So, it'd be nice if we could get some running game going and have a little mix on first and second down, where you can get into those 3rd-and-3's, 3rd-and-4's, or sometimes, when you really get rolling, you just go first down, second down, back to first down, so that'd be nice. The Titans had a tough time scoring (last week). They had a number of 3rd-and-10's, 3rd-and-14's and that is not the game you want to play against these guys. So, first and second down production is extremely important because that can really help your third-down conversion rate."

On plays that the offense just misses:

"I've probably missed a few guys. It's hard to summarize four games as a whole, but I've definitely had some guys open. I had (WR) Marvin (Harrison) open a couple of times deep on Sunday against Houston, and against Jacksonville, and missed him. It's something I'd like to correct. I'd like to hit them. We'd like to be able to get some of those plays down the field. (WR) Reggie (Wayne) had a step on the corner against Houston on third down and I just came up a little bit short on him. I just need to be able to hit them, and it's just me making better throws and getting it a little bit farther out there."

On if that can be attributed to the time he missed in the preseason:

"I really can't give an explanation for it. You could say that's a possibility, but the simple fact is, I just have to hit them. That's what I tell myself, ‘You have to hit them.' It's like I tell these receivers when they slip. ‘Don't slip, you can't slip. That's not an option.' So, I just need to hit them. The nice thing is, there are some plays there to be made. We still have the guys that can run by corners, and my job is to get it out there to them."

On the pass play where he threw the ball inside and Harrison cut to the outside:

"I was just asking him how he was playing and where he thought I should have thrown it. It was just a pretty normal discussion. Somebody asked me about that earlier, and it wasn't really a heated discussion by any means. I was just trying to get a feel. I was frustrated because I missed him. I'm constantly talking to those guys on the sideline about, ‘How's he playing you? What can we get him on?' ‘Where should the throw be?' I wanted to be able to come back to that, because they weren't playing a lot of man-to-man. When they were, that was an audible where we change the play and try to take a shot. I was just trying to figure out the best way to put the ball in the right place."

On the team not having a win in Lucas Oil Stadium:

"It's the same thing there. We just haven't played well enough to win in two games. Against Jacksonville, we probably had more of a chance and they make a late field goal. I don't feel like the stadium is the reason for it, we just need to play better football. We need to protect the ball better at home, have fewer penalties and just execute a little better and be a little more sound. We just can't make some of the mistakes that we've made in our two losses."

On the OL coming together:

"We still have some new players there. It's hard to give you a real summary after one game. Mike Pollak made his first start at right guard, Jamey (Richard) played his first game at left guard, Charlie (Johnson) was at left tackle for the second time. He's been there some, but more in a backup rotation. I thought those guys really fought hard against Houston and they'll tell you they have a tough challenge this Sunday against Baltimore."

On his relationship with Ray Lewis across the line of scrimmage:

"Ray is a true leader of that defense. He's a great physical specimen, but his mental preparation is impressive. I'm not saying he's 100 percent on calling (our) plays out. He's called them out when I've kind of smiled going, ‘That's not it.' I don't really grade him exactly, but (C-Jeff) Saturday can tell you also, a lot of times Jeff is responsible for blocking him, and his instincts a lot of times allow him to beat the blocker to the ball if he gets a feel that it's going one way or the other. It's a tribute to him. Part of it's natural and can't be taught, but part of it is the way he studies and what he sees and takes from the film room to the practice field to the playing field. He's definitely a guy that you have to account for. You have to really be sharp mentally, you have to be accurate with the football and you have to get somebody blocking him in the running game."

On if he gets a kick of out playing complex defenses like Baltimore's:

"Yes. I was talking to the Baltimore media and they were saying how much Ray really enjoys this matchup. I don't know if I necessarily enjoy it all that much because of what a challenge it is and what my week is like preparing for these guys. You really cannot study enough. As much as you study all week on the different looks they've shown, they're still going to do something that they haven't shown all season and you have to adjust to that on the field. I usually finish this game pretty mentally drained, but that's what they want to do. They really try to create a lot of confusion. They key is realizing that a punt is not the worst thing in the world and trying to avoid the really, really negative plays. That's what we need to try to do on Sunday."

On if he and Lewis talk about their match ups at the Pro Bowl:

"Yes. We still can talk football. You're always kind of keeping your guard up a little bit, not trying to reveal too much information knowing that Baltimore has almost been like a division game, kind of like New England, playing them every year. But, you can tell by the way he plays that he prepares a lot. I've always admired guys that take care of their business in the film room and on the mental side of it, as well as the physical part of it."

On the 50th anniversary of the Colts-Giants NFL Championship Game:

"I think the NFL really missed a good opportunity this year. I think we should have played the Giants this year, in Yankee Stadium as a matter of fact. I think that would have been a good opportunity and a really neat situation. I've seen the clips and the highlights of the game. I got the book. I haven't read it yet, but I got the book on that game. Knowing something about the history of the game, I know how pivotal that game was, the first overtime championship game. It's a special game."

On if he and Eli talked about playing this year:

"Yes, we did a little bit. Somebody was talking about it this off-season and knew that it was 50 years. It would have been great with Yankee Stadium closing as well. We just missed the opportunity."

On trusting TE-Tom Santi in the 4th quarter:

"We had an injury to (WR-Anthony) Gonzalez. Obviously, in passing situations, you'd like to have your full complement of receivers there, but Tom, kind of like Dallas (Clark), has that ability to be able to play tight end on the line but also get out in the slot. He can run good enough, I feel like, to be able to beat a linebacker. It was a big (TD) catch on fourth down. There was good coverage, it got right on him and if he catches it with his body it probably gets broken up. He stuck his hands out and caught it with his hands. It was a big play. At the time, I don't think anybody thought it was a big play and it ended up being a real critical play.

"I got some reps with him in the summer. That's probably one of my biggest frustrations about missing training camp is I didn't get the reps with those young guys. Guys like him and (TE-Jacob) Tamme, or even get in the huddle with some of those new linemen. I've been working with them some during practice about being sure these guys know what I'm thinking and I have a good feel about how they're going to run the route. Any time you can get game experience, that's the best."


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