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Dwight Freeney Lists 'The 5 Toughest Guys I've Ever Faced'

Intro: Legendary former Indianapolis Colts pass rusher Dwight Freeney on Friday released a piece on The Players’ Tribune listing the five toughest players he ever played against. Who made the list?


INDIANAPOLIS —It's not very easy to find pass rushers with a better combination of speed and power than Dwight Freeney.

And that spin move — my goodness.

So when Freeney talks about the players that have given him the most trouble throughout his NFL career, you tend to perk up.

Freeney, one of the most dynamic pass rushers in Indianapolis Colts history, on Friday did just that, penning a piece for The Players' Tribune titled "The 5 Toughest Guys I've Ever Faced."

You can — and should — read the entire piece by clicking here. But here are a few notes about Freeney against each opponent:

Steve McNair
Perhaps Freeney's best play against McNair and his Titans teams wasn't even a sack.

On Dec. 7, 2003, the Colts took on the Titans with control of the AFC South Division on the line. Tennessee, the home team, had fallen behind 29-13 with 30 seconds left in third quarter, but almost came all the way back, and had a chance to tie it at 29-all with less than two minutes remaining in the game after McNair found Derrick Mason for a two-yard touchdown pass to make it 29-27.

But on the attempted two-point conversion, Freeney was right there to swat the McNair pass to the ground, helping secure a Colts victory.

Freeney also, of course, had a sack in the game.

Jonathan Ogden
By his second year in the league in 1997, Ogden was already one of the best left tackles in the league, and it didn't take long for him to be considered one of the best at the position to ever play the game.

Freeney would get the best of the future Hall of Famer Dec. 19, 2004, at the RCA Dome, however, notching two sacks on the day against Ravens quarterback Kyle Boller.

The first sack, of course, came with great timing. Freeney got to Boller on 3rd and 9 with two minutes remaining in the first half for a loss of nine yards, setting up a Ravens punt.

The second sack, meanwhile, came at the 3:51 mark in the fourth quarter. With Boller and the Baltimore offense down 10 points, 20-10, they hoped to seize some momentum after Colts kicker Mike Vanderjagt missed a 33-yard field goal. But on 2nd and 8 from the Baltimore 36, Boller would be brought down again by Freeney, this time for a loss of seven.

The Colts would hold on from there to win, 20-10, and move to 11-3 on the year.

Michael Vick
Freeney talks about his most memorable matchup against the speedy Vick, which came in 2000 when Syracuse played Virginia Tech.

Freeney sacked Vick 4.5 times in that game.

He would only have a couple opportunities to play Vick during their NFL career, however. The most memorable moment came Dec. 14, 2003, when the Colts took on Vick's Atlanta Falcons at the RCA Dome.

On Atlanta's very first possession, Vick would throw an incomplete pass, then find Brian Finneran for 11 yards before going off the rails. That's when he was sacked by Larry Tripplett for a loss of five yards, and then Robert Mathis — Freeney's pass rushing partner all those years — got to Vick on the next play, sacking him and forcing a fumble that was recovered by Freeney, who returned it to the Atlanta 14-yard line.

On the ensuing play — the Colts' very first play from scrimmage — Peyton Manning would find Reggie Wayne for a 14-yard touchdown.

The Colts would win going away, 38-7, to move to 11-3 on the year.

Tom Brady
In 2009, Brady was asked who the most intimidating player was in the NFL.

His answer: Dwight Freeney.

Brady's Patriots and Freeney's Colts, of course, had several memorable matchups over the years. Ask any Colts fan, and probably their favorite game of all-time, other than later winning the Super Bowl, would be that comeback victory over the Patriots in the 2006 AFC Championship Game.

Freeney had four career sacks in his Colts career against Brady in the regular season and the postseason combined, though Brady's Patriots would end up with the W in each of those four matchups.

Maurice Jones-Drew
Believe it or not, Jones-Drew's Jaguars actually had a winning record against the Colts when Freeney was in the lineup. The two teams met up five times, and Jacksonville won three of those matchups. And Jones-Drew was a huge factor each and every time, averaging 23 carries for 115 yards over those five games, scoring three total touchdowns on the ground and one via the pass.

A lot of that had to do not only with Jones-Drew's obvious talents, but with his size: just 5-foot-7 tall, he packed a punch at 210 pounds.

"MJD was so small in stature that sometimes, you couldn't even see him in the backfield behind the massive offensive linemen," *Freeney wrote. "So when you played against him, you had to be tremendously gap disciplined. You couldn't guess. Because most of the time, you'd be looking around for him, and then by the time you finally found him … he'd be running past you."

But Freeney would also notch three sacks in his five games against Jones-Drews' Jaguars, including one in each of the Colts' two victories. *

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