Manning: Thanksgiving Is A Special Day

Peyton Manning huddled with the media for his weekly press call earlier this week. See what he had to say about Cleveland, the Colts' success on third down, injuries on the offensive line, what his plans are for Thanksgiving, and more!

On playing in Cleveland:

"We've been there a few times in cold weather games, going back to 1999 I think. You expect that again, especially when you are playing them in late November. It's very much like last week. All you have to do is look at the film and see a really good defense. You see a team who I don't think their record is indicative of what kind of team they have. When you get to this point, you're not looking at records, you're looking at who you're playing and what they do well. They have good playmakers on defense. They have an explosive offense, so we know we need to score some points. That's all we look at."

On if all the team has to do is watch film from when Cleveland played the New York Giants to see what they are capable of:

"Absolutely. They beat the Giants, the Giants' only loss, and they beat them 35-14. You see their cut-ups and see the things they do. They're capable of doing a lot of different things defensively, play different schemes, and they have good playmakers. They have a tough front and a great noseguard in (Shaun) Rogers. Of course, (LB-Willie) McGinest is a great veteran for them. They are a tough defense to move the ball against."

On what has made the Colts' 3rd-down efficiency better:

"I guess I couldn't say for sure, but for the most part we've done a better job of being in third and manageable. I know we've had more of the 3rd-and-1s and 2s and 3s. We haven't had a ton of the 3rd-and-12s and 15s, although we have had some of those and we have converted some of those. We had a big one against Houston and had a big one the other night against San Diego to get into field goal range. For the most part, what we're really trying to do is be good on first and second down. We talk about no negative plays on those downs. We talk about keeping the down and distance in phase, where you're not getting a 2nd-and-15 or a penalty to make it a tough first or second down that puts you into a tough third down. That's the mindset, and also it's just a mindset to stay out there on the field. You have to have good play calling, but you have to have good execution to stay on the field. I've always thought third downs are converted, if you will, on first and second down."

On the Colts being on top of the NFL in 3rd-down efficiency for the last few years:

"Obviously, when you get out there on offense you want to stay out there, so it's a mindset to stay out there on the field. When we're really rolling, you don't have to get into third down. You are allowed to get a first down on second down. That's what you like, when you're really just going first down, second down. It's a challenge every week trying to figure out a team's third-down scheme and what the best plays are against it. But, just trying to execute and stay on the field is the main thing."

On spreading the ball around on third down:

"You're going to call a play. Every play is going to have a progression to it. (WR-Anthony Gonzalez) had some big third downs the other night (at San Diego). (RB) Dom(inic Rhodes) had a big one on a third down and of course had the fourth down (TD catch), so everybody's live."

On losing C-Jeff Saturday as the OL was coming together:

"I'm not going to get into it a whole lot, but injuries are a part of it and everybody else has to step up and raise their level of play. Jeff's a guy who I've never taken for granted him being in there and the things that he's brought to the table, but everybody has to step up."

On if C-Jamey Richard is handling playing with Saturday injured:

"Yes, he'll be fine."

On scoring before halftime at San Diego:

"That was big. It's important in these close games to try to maximize every possession that you get. That was a drive that turned into a two-minute (situation) at the end. Against Houston, it was huge to get a field goal on that drive. You always would like to go into halftime with a little bit of momentum. We kind of fed off that offensively, that drive at the end of the half (at San Diego). Then, the defense caused a turnover and we took that and went and scored. Obviously, your goal is to score every time you get the ball, but you work on two-minute situations all season every Thursday in practice, so it's nice when you get in a game and you're able to put it to good use."

On if the offense running no huddle all the time helps in a two-minute situation:

"It certainly doesn't hurt, I guess, although it is a different tempo in a two minute. The referees kind of speed up, too. They spot the ball a lot faster for you in two minute and everything is a little bit more of a hurry, but I do think the fact that we do not huddle during the game certainly helps us get lined up and it helps everybody, I think, with a sense of urgency."

On if he likes running the two-minute offense:

"Yes. I think everybody likes those circumstances. It's an up-tempo pace and a chance to make some plays."

On what he does differently before a cold game:

"Nothing, really. I always try to get out there a little bit early wherever we're playing, at home or on the road, and get a feel for the weather and the stadium and the field and the grass and all those kinds of things, but nothing really special."

On if he has to worry about the team relaxing after a four-game winning streak looking at the schedule ahead:

"I certainly hope not. We're really not talking much about what we've done and what's happened in the past few weeks as much as this game ahead of us. The most important game is the next one, and that's the Cleveland Browns. That's all we're thinking about. I feel like we're playing with a sense of urgency. We certainly did not get off to a good start this season. We've kind of been playing catch-up the entire time. Every game has been close these past few weeks. We expect another close game this week. You hope we can do some of the same things we've been doing, protecting the ball pretty well for the most part, we need to be good on third down, need to try to score touchdowns in the red zone, so a lot of basic, fundamental, Football 101 things that we have been doing well in our wins and haven't done well in our losses. That will be the key again this week if we can do those things well."

On his plans for Thanksgiving:

"We have some players coming over. It's a lot of food, obviously, for football players. We got four turkeys, I think. Some of these linemen can eat, without a doubt. We have practice early in the morning. Coach (Tony) Dungy has always talked about this, that it's a time to work and focus on Cleveland, but it's also time, when the time is right, to be thankful for the things that we have. (Thanksgiving) is always a special day."

On if he invited the OL or the DL to dinner:

"We have a combination. We have a lot of new players, first-year players, guys that have just signed in the past couple of weeks. Nobody should be eating alone on Thanksgiving, so we go open house at the Mannings and make sure everybody has a place to go."

On if he ever felt bad for his mother, Olivia, on Thanksgiving:

"I was always thankful. She always did it right on Thanksgiving. It always centered around good food and football. That's the way to do it, a good combination."

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