Manning: Every Team Has Great Players

Peyton Manning talked to the media this week as the Colts prepare to play the Cincinnati Bengals. See what Manning had to say about the schedule, staying focused against struggling teams, two-minute drills, his alma mater's new football coach, the team's winning streak, and more!

On people thinking the Colts are at an easy part of the schedule:

"We have enough guys who've been around long enough to know that every team in the NFL has great players, especially as far as what we're looking at, Cincinnati's defense. The defense is a salty bunch. They took the Giants into overtime, probably could have won that game, and tied Philadelphia and beat Jacksonville. Especially at this point in the season, you take records out of the equation. You're playing to try to improve every single week, and hopefully by improving, that results in you hopefully winning the game. That's the idea, and we have to try to get better this week playing a tough team."

On the team controlling its destiny to make the playoffs:

"Like I said, it's one game at a time and that's been our approach. Especially with all of our injuries and a lot of our new guys playing, that's all we can do is take it one step at a time and try to help some of these young guys come along and everybody has to raise their level of play."

On watching the tape from last week's game at Cleveland:

"You never take winning for granted, but certainly we want to score more than three (offensive) points. I'm sure (Head Coach) Tony (Dungy) can address it more in detail as far as all positions, but I think offensively it's just a matter of finding a way to get it into the end zone. Everybody has to do their job at the right time, all 11 guys have to be on the same page, and hopefully we can do that this week."

On what DEs Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis add to a pass rush:

"I'm sure (OT) Ryan (Diem) and (OT) Tony (Ugoh) can give you a better answer. Those guys practice against those guys every day in drills or in two-minute drills. There's no question it's great to have guys that can change the game in one single snap, a three-step or five-step drop, all of a sudden boom, it's a sack-fumble, a touchdown the other way or a turnover with great field position. Credit to both of those guys for making a huge play at a critical time. That's something they've done throughout their careers, so I'm glad they're on our team."

On the offense:

"We're always trying to improve. That's what we talk about is getting better every single week. That will be the goal again this week starting a new quarter (of the season). As Coach Dungy always says, it's the first game of the fourth quarter and you hope to be playing some of your best football around this time. Hopefully we can start the fourth quarter off on the right foot."

On if winning close games helps prepare the team for the playoffs:

"It's hard to really get down the road when you're taking one game at a time, when you have some new players playing, you have your defensive captain (LB-Gary Brackett) that's injured and all you think about is the present, this practice and the next practice and obviously this upcoming game. I think it has some merit for this game, knowing that the past five games we've had have all been close games and we've won. That's what you expect again this week, to be a close game and hope you have a chance in the fourth quarter to make a play and help win the game. That's what we've been used to these past few weeks, and that's what we expect this week and the rest of this month is close games and hopefully we can have a chance to win in the end."

On if he has a favorite two-minute drive:

"I'm sure I do. I guess I really haven't thought about it a lot. Obviously, the ones when we score, when we get a touchdown or a field goal. I know the ones that I don't like are the ones where we don't get it. We've had a number where all we've needed is a field goal to either tie it and go into overtime or to win the game, which is really what you want. That means you haven't gotten that far behind earlier in the game and you've kept the game close and now you have a chance to go win it and set up (K) Adam (Vinatieri) for a field goal. When you need a touchdown, obviously it's always more of a challenge, but you feel like you work on it and you ought to be able to go do it. I can't think of one off hand, but those are situations that you work for every Thursday in practice. We do it multiple times in training camp, and hopefully when the game comes around you can do it.

"I think all of them where you go down there and get points are all positive and productive. I don't really have them ranked, I guess. Coach Dungy always says in practice, ‘We need three points. We need seven points,' and gives you situations. Anytime you can fulfill the goal, those are all positives."

On if it's easy for a player to let his guard down playing a team with one win and next week playing a team with zero wins:

"I think it helps to be more of a veteran player. I think sometimes in college, I could see how that could creep up a little bit, but in the NFL you're talking about some of the greatest athletes in the world playing in the NFL. Just because a particular team may not have a good record, you still look at them as a collection of unbelievable athletes. Like I said, defensively, (Cincinnati) creates a lot of problems. I know they've had some injuries on defense and certainly injuries on offense. Anytime you lose your quarterback it's always going to be a change. I think it helps having some older guys around here. We know that it's your job as a professional football player to get prepared to play every week and that all football players play hard and they have a lot of pride. I really throw records out the window."

On Lane Kiffin being hired as the new head coach at the University of Tennessee:

"Obviously, it's a big change there, so we'll see how it works out. I wish him the best, obviously. My blood still bleeds orange. No question I'm disappointed that Coach (Phillip) Fulmer is not there, but I wish Lane Kiffin the best."

On if he was consulted on the hiring of Kiffin:

"No. It was kind of a one man crew on the athletic department side. It was their decision, so I found out when everybody else found out, I guess on the Friday before the last game."

On reports that he was consulted by Tennessee:

"That'd be news to me."

On if he would have liked to have been consulted by Tennessee:

"If I wasn't playing, maybe. I'm consulting myself on zone blitzes from the Bengals and Cleveland, so I really wasn't. I was talking to Coach Fulmer during those past few weeks, and I knew they were interviewing different guys. I found out that Kiffin got the job when everybody else found out. I hope he does a great job, I really do."

On having a winning streak late in the season:

"I guess it's different from the past few years in that it's new for this season. We did start out sort of rocky and were up and down and inconsistent and sitting there at 3-4. Coach Dungy kept talking about getting started on a streak and we needed to get on a streak. We've done that so far, but really need to keep it going. If you look at the AFC, which he always does, he points to who else is around you, every game feels like it's win and advance and lose and be eliminated. We've put ourselves in a decent position, we just can't afford to give one back or to get behind. We've played that way these past few weeks, with a real sense of urgency. There's no question Mondays and Tuesdays are always a lot better after wins. These past five weeks have been better. You enjoy it enough where you want to keep it going and don't want to go back to having to come in on Mondays after games and having to deal with a loss. That's what we're trying to avoid."


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