Giants-Colts, Manning-Manning Kicks Off

The Giants will open their 2006 regular season with a primetime blockbuster against the Indianapolis Colts that will be the first-ever game with Eli and Peyton Manning as the starting quarterbacks.

The game will be played in Giants Stadium on Sunday night, Sept. 10, and will be the first Sunday night game televised by NBC, the NFL's new television partner.

Giants quarterback Eli Manning and his older brother, Colts quarterback Peyton, have never played against each other at any level of football.

"It's going to be meaningful and exciting," Eli Manning said today after completing a workout in the team's offseason conditioning program. "It's going to be something different, something I've never done before. We've never competed against each other in anything, really, besides one-on-one basketball in our backyard.

"It will be fun, obviously. But I'm really competing against the Indianapolis defense. I just have to play hard and try to play well. It will be exciting and something you always remember, because it's the first time we'll ever compete against each other."

The NFL today announced the prime time schedule for the 2006 Kickoff Weekend and its Thanksgiving Day games. The remainder of the schedule will be announced next month.

Peyton and Eli – the second and third sons of former NFL quarterback Archie Manning - were No. 1 overall selections in their respective NFL drafts: Peyton by the Colts out of Tennessee in 1998 and Eli from Mississippi by the San Diego Chargers in 2004. Eli was soon traded to the Giants.

Peyton Manning has never missed a start in his pro career, starting 128 consecutive games. He is 80-48 (.625) in the regular season, plus 3-6 in postseason play. He is a two-time NFL Most Valuable Player. Last year, the Colts were 14-2 and champions of the AFC South.

Eli assumed the Giants' starting job with seven games remaining in his rookie season. He is 12-11 in the regular season, including 11-5 last year, when he led the Giants to the NFC East title.

This is the second season in a row the Giants will open their season at home. Last year, they defeated Arizona, 42-19.

"You want to win the first game and get off to a good start," Eli Manning said. "We're playing a tough team, a playoff team. They're very talented on offense and defense. We'll have our work cut out for us.

"Obviously, it's a long way away. I'm not making any predictions. Right now, my focus is on improving my game, improving this offense and working out. We'll worry about that game as it gets closer."

The Colts are accustomed to being road warriors on the league's opening weekend. This is the seventh consecutive season they will open their schedule away from home, the third in a row they will be in prime time. They are 5-1 in those road openers. Indianapolis opened last season with a Sunday night victory at Baltimore. In 2004, they lost a Thursday night game at New England.

Since Eli joined the Giants, the Mannings have known they would face each other in 2006. They have had discussions about the game, though Eli said they were infrequent and short.

"We obviously knew we would be playing this year, and we got word it would be an early game," he said. "It's probably better that it's early rather than later. We haven't spoken a whole lot about it. I can't do a whole lot of trash talking. It's not like I'm a defensive end who is going to sack him or be on the field at the same time. The only time we'll be on the field together is before the game when we're warming up.

"I'll get to see him before and I'll get to see him after. Besides that, we're just going out there and competing."

Eli hopes the football game follows the same story line as the backyard basketball games he has with Peyton.

"I can take him in basketball," Eli said. "That's not a competition. Football is another story. I'm still trying to get to his level of play."

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