Manning Says Colts Must Look Ahead After Season-Opening Loss
INDIANAPOLIS – As Peyton Manning sees it, history means nothing.
Manning, in his 13th season as the Colts' quarterback, said while the franchise has been successful in its current situation – responding to a difficult loss – and while experience can be drawn from that, nothing is guaranteed.
A major storyline this week will be the second career meeting between Manning and his brother – New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning -- but Peyton Manning said more concerning is how the Colts prepare this week.
The Colts, Manning said, must work to get out of their situation.
And that must happen now.
"I think the main thing that's applicable is that this is the 2010 season," Manning said Wednesday as the Colts (0-1) prepared to play the New York Giants (1-0) of the NFC East in the 2010 regular-season home opener at Lucas Oil Stadium Sunday at 8:20 p.m.
"What's 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 never lose two in a row.'
"There are no guarantees. It's about going out and trying to do it."
The Colts last lost a regular-season game before they had their playoff seeding clinched on Halloween of 2008. After that loss at Tennessee, the Colts won their final nine games of the 2008 season and their first 14 games last season.
"It's always interesting at the beginning of the season to see how you're going to react to wins, losses – no matter what," Colts center Jeff Saturday said. "I like the character of the guys in the room. We're going to play a really good team.
"There's nothing like seeing what you're going to do when your back is against the wall."
The Colts, who have won six of the past seven AFC South titles, twice lost regular-season openers from 1999-2009, and each time they finished the season with 12 victories.
In 2004, they lost to defending Super Bowl champion New England, 27-24, in the regular-season opener, then won eight of their last nine games to finish 12-4 and win the AFC South title. In 2008, a year in which Manning missed the preseason recovering from knee surgery, the Colts started the season 3-4 before rallying to make a seventh consecutive playoff appearance with a 12-4 record.
"I'm not saying we're used to this, but we know this feeling," Colts defensive end Dwight Freeney said. "I'm not saying we're trying to get there or anything like that, but we understand this is a long season. A lot of things can happen during a year. You can have your ups. You can have your downs. It all depends on how you bounce back from that and learn from what happened. That's what we're going to try to do."
Manning said Wednesday those seasons mean little now.
With the Colts beginning preparations for the Giants, Manning said improving preparation from how the Colts prepared for the regular-season opener is the priority.
"It's really imant we have a great week of practice this week," Manning said. "I thought last week's practice probably wasn't as sharp as it could have been, and therefore we played not as sharp. We have to have a better week of practice.
"Hopefully, usually, that does translate to the playing field. But I think you have to be careful about saying, 'This is what has happened. We'll go out and do it again.'
"It's about what you're going to go out and do this year."
Manning on Wednesday also addressed the idea of playing his brother, something that has happened just once before. That was in 2006, when the Colts beat the Giants, 26-21, in the regular-season opener at Giants Stadium in New Jersey.
The key difference between this year's match-up and 2006, Manning said, is that this year's game does not open the regular season.
Manning said that's not an insignificant change.
"This is the only week we've kind of had to talk about it," Manning said. "Four years ago it was a lot different. We had to do a lot more sit-down interviews and things like that."
But while media asked several more questions about the Mannings playing one another, Manning's focus was on the week at hand – and particularly, the importance of the days leading to it.
"We're 0-1," Manning said. "That's what we are. We're playing at home and we're playing a great team. We're playing on prime-time TV. We certainly want to play better, but wanting to play better and going out and practicing to be better are two different things. That's what we need to do. . . .
"We put ourselves in a hole by not getting it done last week. We have our first home game, playing at night. Those are all great things, but it's important for us to have a good week of preparation. There are things we need to do this week and, hopefully, we can carry that onto the field on Sunday."