A Capsule Look at the Colts' Sunday Showdown Against The Giants
**Indianapolis Colts (0-1) vs. New York Giants (1-0)
Sunday, September 19, 2010 (8:20 p.m. ET)
Lucas Oil Stadium (63,000 capacity) – Indianapolis, Indiana
Television/Radio: NBC Sports and 1070-The Fan/HANK-FM 97.1**
The Colts don't often look in the rearview mirror. They prefer to focus on what is in front of them.
But that doesn't mean they completely forget the past either.
The Colts' 34-24 season-opening loss to the Houston Texans was not the way anyone in a Colts' uniform wanted to open the season.
And while dwelling on the loss would not be beneficial to the Colts, Colts players this week said there is certainly a lot of motivation to be found from the game as they prepare for their home-opener against the New York Giants.
"There is no question that they are going to be motivated by last week's game," Peyton Manning said. (The defense) will be excited to play, as will our offense. I don't think any phase of our team played well enough against Houston to deserve to win that game. Houston certainly played well, I give them credit, but we did a lot of things that just really were disappointing and not solid, sound football. That's kind of where our motivation is. Kind of our theme this week is everybody has to take care of their job. If everybody does there job a little bit better, hopefully that should result in better football. That's kind of where the focus is this week."
And for the Colts, maintaining that focus has been a priority this week. The Colts not only have to prepare to face a very strong Giants squad that is coming off a 31-18 season-opening win over Carolina, but also have the added storyline of Peyton and Eli Manning, the starting quarterbacks for the two clubs, being brothers.
Giants Head Coach Tom Coughlin acknowledges the uniqueness of the situation that will happen on Sunday with the brother quarterbacks, but says that his focus is on the two teams as a whole.
"It's going to be our football team against the Indianapolis Colts, a very, very good football team led by an outstanding quarterback and a heck of an array of talented guys," Coughlin said. "We have a great challenge, and we're looking forward to it."
And despite the Colts' loss to open the season, Coughlin said he sees no letdown from the Colts and feels the game will be a formidable challenge that will tell him a lot about his football team.
"I don't see anything other than full speed ahead," Coughlin said. "You're talking about a very good football team playing at home in what amounts to the home opener. I don't even bat an eye about that. It's going to be one of those games, one of those very, very hard-fought battles and we're fully anticipating that."
For the Colts, staying full speed ahead means not changing anything. The Colts, owners of a league-best 128-49 (.723) record since 1999, are not planning on changing what they do because of one disappointing outcome.
"I'd say for the most part what we try and do and focus in on is we do not do anything any differently in terms how we go about our preparation," Colts Head Coach Jim Caldwell said. "We certainly want to have a different result. There is no question about that. We believe in the way in which we practice. We believe in the way in which we prepare. So, we go right back to work, understanding the mistakes that we made and get them corrected and keep moving forward.
"There's not a whole lot you can do about a game once it's over with. You have to look forward."
FOCUS ON THE COLTS
With the league's best record, 128-49, since 1999, it should come as no surprise that the Colts are on prime-time television a lot.
But prime-time games often pit two of the league's best teams against each other, which makes the Colts' 8-2 record on Sunday night regular season games since 2006 an impressive mark.
The Colts won all three of their Sunday night appearances last season, including a 35-34 fourth-quarter comeback win over New England. Heading into Sunday's showdown with the Giants, the Colts have won their last five regular season Sunday night games. The club's last loss on a Sunday night was the season-opener in 2008 to Chicago. That marked the first game back for Manning after missing all of the preseason recuperating from knee surgery.
In all regular season prime-time games since 2006, the Colts are 15-3 (.833) and have won their last eight.
COLTS SUNDAY NIGHT REGULAR SEASON GAMES SINCE 2006
Nov. 15, 2009 vs. New England W, 35-34
Oct. 11, 2009 at Tennessee W, 31-9
Sept. 27, 2009 at Arizona W, 31-10
Nov. 23, 2008 at San Diego W, 23-20
Nov. 2, 2008 vs. New England W, 18-15
Sept. 7, 2008 vs. Chicago L, 13-29
Dec. 9, 2007 at Baltimore W, 44-20
Nov. 11, 2007 at San Diego L, 21-23
Nov. 5, 2006 at New England W, 27-20
Sept. 10, 2006 at NY Giants W, 26-21
A CLOSER LOOK AT THE GIANTS
The Giants opened the season last Sunday with a 31-18 win over the Carolina Panthers. The Giants were led by WR-Hakeem Nicks who had three touchdown receptions.
"Hakeem played a great game," Eli Manning said. "He did a lot of good things, obviously made some big plays when we had to, took advantage of some opportunities in the end zone and ran some good routes and made some plays. We needed him to step up and do some good things for us. Carolina was doubling Steve Smith a little bit and you had one-on-one with your two outside receivers, either Hakeem or Mario Manningham. They had to get open and make plays."
Heading into last season, the Giants were sure of their quarterback, but not certain about who he would be throwing the ball to. That question has been answered now. Smith broke the Giants' single-season record with 107 receptions in 2009, and was named to the NFC Pro Bowl Team. Manningham had 57 catches for 822 yards and five touchdowns last season, and Nicks, a 2009 first-round draft choice, caught 51 passes for 865 yards and nine touchdowns.
The three receivers were selected in consecutive drafts from 2007-09, and it has been Manning's job to bring them up to speed.
"That's kind of what we worked on this off-season a lot, being more consistent, being more dependable in our route-running and our play-making," Manning said. "As a quarterback, you trust those guys, you're going to give them shots to catch it. You're going to look for them and expect them to do the right thing and run the right route and be strong in their routes. If the quarterback takes a shot and throws it up to you it's either you catch it or no one catches it. That's the things we've talked about.
Manningham and Smith both showed marked improvement from their rookie year to their second year, and Manning is expecting Nicks to make the same jump.
"As a young receiver, that time between your first year and second year is a huge growing experience," Manning said. "When you can spend a whole off-season watching yourself run routes on film, watching your decision making on film, it really starts to trigger in how hard you have to work, how patient you have to be in your route running to get open in this league."
On defense, the Giants have a defensive line that is capable of causing havoc for a quarterback. Last Sunday, the defense was credited with 10 quarterback knockdowns and four sacks to go along with five forced turnovers.
Mathias Kiwanuka had two of those sacks on Sunday, and would probably like to add to that total as the Indianapolis native, who attended Cathedral High School, plays his first NFL game in his home state.
"(Mathias) had an outstanding game," Coughlin said. "He is a versatile athlete. He's got an excellent toughness. He's resilient. He can play a number of spots; he can rush the passer, he can play over the top of the tight end and he can drop into coverage. He's got long arms. He catches the ball well. He's a highly competitive athlete and has an outstanding skill set."
Joining Kiwanuka on the line are veterans Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora. The Giants also used their first-round draft pick in 2010 on defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, who had 31 sacks in college.
Directing the talented line and defense is new Giants Defensive Coordinator Perry Fewell. Fewell served in the same position with the Buffalo Bills from 2006-10.
"He is adding in a little mix of a few different packages," Caldwell said. "A lot of things you do according to your personnel. Their personnel is such that they have a number of guys very, very active up front that they get into the ballgame, so they use different sub packages. He is doing a little bit of everything.
"They give you a few packages, a few different looks and move some guys around with different packages that you know they try and create a little bit of confusion for your offensive lineman more so than anything else. They give you a variety of things to deal with."
The Colts issued Friday's injury status report with the following players listed as out for Sunday's game against the New York Giants: WR-Anthony Gonzalez (ankle) and DB-Bob Sanders (biceps). Listed as questionable for Sunday night's game are LBs-Gary Brackett (back), Ramon Humber (illness) and Clint Session (hamstring), OTs-Ryan Diem (neck) and Charlie Johnson (foot), DB-Jacob Lacey (head) and DE-Robert Mathis (ankle), while LB-Cody Glenn (hamstring), DB-Jerraud Powers (foot) and C-Jeff Saturday (knee) are listed as probable.
"I think the main thing that is applicable is that this is the 2010 season and what has happened in the past is the past. I think you have to be careful saying, 'Hey, we always win the next one after a loss. We don't lose two in a row.' There are no guarantees in that. It's about going out and trying to do it. We've got new players on this team. We've got some new coaches. It's really important, I think, that we have a great week of practice this week. I thought last week's practice probably wasn't as sharp as it could have been, therefore we played not as sharp. We have to have a better week of practice and hopefully, usually that does translate to the playing field. I think you have to be careful saying, 'Well, we've done this in the past, we'll do it again.' It's about what you're going to go out and do now, this year."
- Peyton Manning on the team's ability to bounce back after a tough loss.
"He's a true professional. He didn't have any difficulty when Bob returned. These guys are so highly competitive that no one likes to be a backup. They all desire to be number one, but he handled it in a way which was productive, and thus I think he'll do the same thing, just in terms of taking over (for) Bob. He's one of those guys, I'm talking about Melvin, that has a great perspective on things and he knows how to handle situations, difficult situations, and he's always ready to play. Unlike in some cases you may find some guys that get a little bit upset about the fact that they've been supplanted and thus kind of lose a bit of their focus and their preparation sort of lacks and wanes a little bit, and it shows in their performance. He's the anti-thesis of that. He prepares hard, he focuses and he gets ready. Obviously, he was able to step in the ballgame last week and play and play well."
- Jim Caldwell on DB-Melvin Bullitt and how he handled having DB-Bob Sanders come back into the lineup and now having to move back into the starting lineup with Sanders out because of an injury.
"Obviously, they have to be awfully proud. First of all, it's a very, very rare occurrence where you have two sons that aren't just on teams, but are leading their teams in an outstanding way. They are experts at what they do. To have an opportunity to watch your two sons play on a grand stage week-after-week-after-week would, I think, be quite amazing. Both of them have certainly won the ultimate game, as well. It also says a lot about them (the parents). I think those of us that know them, know that the apple didn't fall far from the tree. They are people with great integrity and certainly outstanding work habits. They've done a great job in guiding those three young men because they are outstanding people."
-Jim Caldwell on if he could imagine what Archie and Olivia Manning, the parents of Eli and Peyton Manning, will be feeling on Sunday.
STORYLINES TO WATCH FOR…
1. The Colts Have Done Well Against the NFC
Since the NFL realignment in 2002, the Colts have a record of 25-7 (.781) when playing against teams from the NFC in the regular season. That mark is the second-best record in the league during that span.
Last season, the Colts went 4-0 in regular season games against the NFC as the club swept the NFC West. This season the Colts play teams from the NFC East. In 2006, the Colts went 3-1 in games against the NFC East, defeating the Giants, Eagles and Redskins and dropping a contest at the Cowboys.
The Colts have won their last five regular season games against NFC competition.
BEST INTERCONFERENCE RECORDS SINCE 2002
Team Record Win Pct.
New England 28-4 . 875
COLTS 25-7 .781
Tennessee 23-9 .719
Pittsburgh 22-9-1 .703
San Diego 20-12 .625
2. Second-Year Receivers Rising
Both passing attacks have no shortage of weapons on Sunday. The Giants have Manningham, Nicks and Smith, while the Colts are able to counter with TE-Dallas Clark and WRs-Austin Collie, Pierre Garcon and Reggie Wayne.
Last week, it was second-year receivers Nicks and Collie that were at the forefront of each team's passing attack. Nicks caught four passes for 75 and three touchdowns, while Collie set career-highs with 11 receptions and 163 receiving yards, while also catching a career-long 73-yard touchdown pass.
Nicks was drafted in the first round of the 2009 draft, the fifth wide receiver taken, and has caught 51 passes for 865 yards and nine touchdowns thus far in his career. The yards and touchdowns lead all the wide receivers from his 2009 draft class and the 51 receptions rank fifth.
Collie was drafted in the fourth round of the 2009 draft, the 17th wide receiver taken, and has caught 71 passes for 839 yards and eight touchdowns. The former Brigham Young player leads all wide receivers from the 2009 draft class in receptions and ranks second among those receivers in receiving yards and touchdowns.
COLLIE AND NICKS AND THEIR RANK AMONG THE WIDE RECEIVER CLASS OF 2009
Player - Receptions/Rank Yards/Rank Touchdowns/Rank
Austin Collie - 71/1st 839/2nd 8/2nd
Hakeem Nicks - 51/5th 865/1st 9/1st
3. Familiar Faces
The Colts and Giants only play once in every four seasons, but that does not mean that the two teams have no connection with each other.
Besides the obvious sibling quarterbacks, the Giants also signed two players this off-season that are very familiar with the Colts. In March, the Giants signed long-time Colts backup quarterback Jim Sorgi. Sorgi spent six seasons with the Colts backing up Manning. Sorgi is on injured reserved after suffering a shoulder injury in the preseason, but still is with the club. In July, the Giants signed LB-Keith Bulluck, who spent 10 seasons with the Titans and faced the Colts twice each season since 2002.
Manning says the Colts recognize these issues, and says that while the offense will factor it into their game plan, the players on the opposing team should also recognize that they might not know everything the Colts will try to do.
"It's not the first time you've had to take those types of things into account," Manning said. "It's not like we're not aware of it. It's something you do factor into the game plan. You just understand that they have guys on their team that may know certain things, and I guess I'd just say be careful what you think you know."