Manning, Caldwell Weigh in on Sunday's Big Game
After a season of focusing in on the game ahead, the Indianapolis Colts have just one more game left to play, Super Bowl XLIV this Sunday.
Colts Head Jim Caldwell knows it is an old cliché, but he insists the team's mantra of, "One game at a time" is what brought the Colts to Miami this week, and is ultimately what led to the team's success this season.
"The thing that we focused in on, more so than anything else, was to getting them zeroed in on each game," he said. "I told them we'd tally it up at the end, and that's really what we did all year long."
With the team's ultimate goal within grasp, and just days away from facing the New Orleans Saints in Super Bowl XLIV, Caldwell said his players are focused and eager to play.
Although 25 players remain from the Colts' Super Bowl XLI victory over the Chicago Bears three years ago, Caldwell said that experience is secondary, and that the most important thing is what happens on the field of Sun Life Stadium on Sunday.
He said he is comforted by the fact that his team has played so well in so many big games this season, describing them as a "very cohesive group."
"They've been on the same page this entire year," Caldwell said. "I don't think you can come back the way we've come back in particular games this season (without it)."
With so many distractions that accompany a Super Bowl appearance, Caldwell said while he knows his team has a tougher week ahead than usual, he is confident it is something they can handle.
Having kept the team's weekly schedule pretty much intact, and being on the NFL's biggest stage for the second time in four years, Caldwell said many Colts players are familiar with the routine.
"We may have tweaked a few things here and there, in terms of practice, but other than that we try to stay fairly close to the norm," he said.
Having been to a Super Bowl, let alone one in Miami so recently, has given the Colts a unique focus and perspective this week.
Unlike three years ago, many Colts players are not in a hunt for their first Super Bowl.
But Peyton Manning, a four-time NFL Most Valuable Player, said that does not cheapen the experience one bit. Just as it did three years ago, Sunday's game means a tremendous amount to everyone involved, especially to the winner.
"I know just how special it was [then]," he said. "Just how much work you put into it. You think about how many people have helped you get to that point. My high school coach is coming to the game on Sunday and I think about him. My college coaches, my parents, how supportive they have been throughout my sports career. I think during this time you do reflect on the people that have helped you get to this point, and it is an emotional time. It is an emotional week."
But Manning said the week also is exciting, and one that every NFL player wants to be a part of.
"You have to have a great passion to play this game, and if you win it you certainly feel emotional," he said.
Manning pointed out the uniqueness of Sunday's game, as the AFC and NFC's top playoff seeds square off in the Super Bowl for the first time since 1993.
"That says a lot about both teams," he said. "We have had a target on our backs the entire season."
The Saints started the year 13-0 and the Colts began the regular season on a 14-0 streak.
"I think it is going to be a wonderful football game," Manning said. "It is two excellent teams, competitive on both sides of the ball, and there are a lot of great players in this game. I'm just proud to be a part of it."
While the team is practicing in Miami this week, Manning said the Colts have their mind on the city of Indianapolis and bringing it their second Super Bowl championship in four years.
"Part of winning three years ago, what was so special was being able to share the celebration with them," Manning said. "It is an exciting time for our players. I know the fans are excited, and we feel like we are all in this together."