Duel in the Desert

Two of the NFL's all-time greats at quarterback will square off Sunday when the Colts travel to Arizona to take on the Cardinals.

Peyton Manning vs. Kurt Warner.

The Indianapolis Colts offense vs. the Arizona Cardinals offense.

Perennial AFC power and former Super Bowl winners vs. defending NFC champions.

Must-see television to be sure.

That's the dream matchup NFL fans around the country will get a chance to see Sunday night when the Colts hit the road for the second straight week. It's also the second consecutive appearance on national TV for Indianapolis.

"I've never played out there. I've been to the stadium before, of course, good memory out there when (younger brother) Eli won the Super Bowl. That was a special day. I know it'll be a tough place to play," Peyton Manning said recently.

"They have reestablished that place as a tough place to play after last year's season. I know they lost their first one at home, but they're coming off a win, and they'll be fired up. It'll be a challenge for us."

The Colts' signal-caller knows that anytime Kurt Warner and his talented group of receivers — Larry Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin and Steve Breaston — take the field, he'll need to be at the top of his own game this week.

"(Warner's) just had a great career. The way he played last year and coming off the game he had against Jacksonville (a 31-17 road win), it looks like he's back in his form. The defense will have its hands full stopping him. He uses those great weapons, Fitzgerald and Boldin, so well. He's had a great career, and it looks like he is off to a great start this year," Manning said.

"He's always been a very accurate guy. He's a timing guy. He likes to get the ball to those guys and those guys make the plays. He's a good deep ball passer and (good at) a lot of intermediate throws. He's been doing it for a number of years now. It's impressive."

Colts coach Jim Caldwell, a candidate for the Cardinals' head coaching job a couple of years ago, is equally impressed with Arizona's talented group of receivers.

"(Fitzgerald and Boldin) are a great combination. They are big and strong. They can jump and run. They are tough and can take short passes and turn them into long gains. Their run after the catch is something to behold," Caldwell said.

"They (the Cardinals) utilize them in a number of different ways with short and intermediate passes. They move them around with a lot of motions and shifts. They can make it difficult for you. Boldin has 10 receptions and Fitzgerald has 10 receptions, but the leading receiver is (running back Tim) Hightower, who also can give you some problems."

SERIES HISTORY: 14th regular-season meeting. Colts lead series 7-6. This will be the Colts' first trip to Phoenix for a regular-season game since Dec. 2, 1990 and second game there. This will also be the Colts' first game at University of Phoenix Stadium. The inactivity in the series is the Colts' longest stretch against any opponent and is the second-longest current league streak behind Pittsburgh and Washington (1988). Indianapolis has won the last three meetings, 17-13 on Jan. 1, 2006, 20-13 on Sept. 1, 1996 and 16-13 on Dec. 20, 1992.

As a franchise, the Colts are 1-2 in road games against the Cardinals (1-1 in St. Louis, 0-1 in Phoenix). In their last meeting, a goal-line stand in the final seconds gave the Colts a franchise-record 14th win in 2006. The game was also memorable for Colts giving the game ball to former head coach Tony Dungy. It was his first game back on the Indianapolis sidelines after the death of his son James.


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