In his fourth career NFL start in 2004 against Baltimore, Manning completed just four of 18 passes for 27 yards with two interceptions and a lost fumble for a zero quarterback rating. Dazed and confused as a rookie, he was mercifully benched in the fourth quarter of a 37-14 blowout for Kurt Warner.
"It was a long time ago," Manning said in a conference call with Baltimore reporters. "It was a time when we were struggling and trying to find an identity. They were a great defense, and I think I've grown a lot as a player. This team has grown a lot since then."
Added wide receiver Amani Toomer: "Our20whole offense was pretty bad back then. It was a very embarrassing game. A lot of guys remember it. It's just something we really want to atone for, you could say."
Since that low point, Manning has won a Super Bowl ring to match his accomplished older brother, Peyton Manning. He currently has the highest completion percentage (60.5) and rating (88.8) of his five-year career.
Four years later, the Ravens still want to do their part to treat Manning roughly through a fierce pass rush that has led to 14 interceptions, an opposing completion percentage of 53.5 and allowing just 193 passing yards per game to rank ninth in pass defense.
"Honestly, I think you can get into any person's head if you get after them and really start confusing them and start hitting them the way they don't want to be hit and then confusing his reads," Ravens middle linebacker Ray Lewis said. "I don't care if you are a rookie or a veteran. If you let any defense get after you the way our defense has been getting after people, then it can be a frustrating day."
The Ravens are hoping to split their season series with the Manning brothers after allowing the elder Manning to throw for 271 yards, three touchdown passes with no interceptions in a 31-3 rout by the Indianapolis Colts earlier this season.
Eli Manning said he might consult a little bit with Peyton this week, but nothing extensive.
"We're not comparing notes," he said. "We really don't like giving each other's secrets away, because you never know, you might have to go against each other."
INJURY REPORT: Wide receiver Derrick Mason (left dislocated shoulder) was upgraded to limited participation in practice Friday after missing two consecutive days of practice.
Although he wore a red jersey signifying that he's off-limits to contact and didn't wear a helmet, Mason did a few individual drills and stretched both arms above his head for catches without visible pain.
He was listed as questionable on the final injury report.
"He's kind of a little sore," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "I'd say he's working through the injury right now. He looked OK for practice. We'll see how he is on Sunday."
Giants coach Tom Coughlin predicted Friday that Mason will play.
"Absolutely, yeah," he told New York reporters.
Offensive tackle Willie Anderson (left sprained ankle) is questionable. He was listed as limited on practice, but didn't dress out and apparently didn't practice at all. He still insists he's going to play.
"We'll see how he is for Sunday on Sunday," Harbaugh said. "We're trying to get him there. He's trying to get there."
Also listed as questionable: free safety Ed Reed (hamstring), cornerback Samari Rolle (neck surgery), tight end Daniel Wilcox (hamstring) and rookie safety Tom Zbikowski (thigh).
Wide receiver Terrance Copper (shoulder/neck) was ruled out.
Rookie wide receiver Marcus Smith may get a look as the third receiver behind Mark Clayton and Yamon Figurs. Recently-signed veteran Marcus Maxwell is another candidate.
"Marcus is getting to the point where we would feel comfortable with him in there," Harbaugh said. "He's really made some strides the last two or three weeks. You never know until you put them in.
"As a coach, you'v e got to be confident enough to put those young guys in there and see how they do. You might be disappointed, but you might go: ‘Wow, we've got ourselves a player here.' We think those guys are getting to the point now where it's time to get them in there."
QUICK HITS: Harbaugh has been mentioned as a potential Coach of the Year candidate in NFL circles, but he downplayed any accolade references. "It's not something we're even thinking about," he said. "Wouldn't even begin to think about it." … The Ravens lead the AFC North with 16 players on injured reserve, but are tied for first place with the Pittsburgh Steelers. "With as much adversity as we've faced with our injuries, many people would have discounted us a long time ago. But we have some men that have definitely stepped up in our time of need," center Jason Brown said. "It just goes to show how strong our depth is on this team and also that those guys have stepped up. They want to show that, 'Hey, we're ready. We're ready to support the team and we can go on.'" … Advocating for linebacker Terrell Suggs, veteran defensive end Trevor Pryce took a shot at Miami Dolphins linebacker Joey Porter: "If you watch it, he doesn't have the stats that a Joey Porter has, but I can tell you he's 10 times a better player. Just watch the tape. I don't like saying he's a beast and all that because we're not animals. But he's a grown man, there's no doubt about it." … Giants middle linebacker Antonio Pierce said the comparisons between his team and the Rave ns are valid. "We're very similar," Pierce told New York reporters. "They play good defense, we play good defense. They have three great running backs. We have the three great running backs. So, this game is going to come down to who is more physical, who is more tough, who can stop the run and who can create more opportunities for our offense." … Rookie guard-tackle David Hale is now the Ravens' emergency center. … Coughlin said that the Giants have spent a lot of time preparing for the Ravens' double-quarterback package.
Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times and the Annapolis Capital.
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