INDIANAPOLISCOLTS QUARTERBACK PEYTON MANNING
January 12, 2005
Q: How does this weekend differ from, first of all, the first meeting this year between the two teams and last year in the playoffs?
PM: I'd say it's more similar to last year because it's a playoff game and it's the old boring cliché, but playoff games are different. There's more intensity and everything's on the line and, like Coach Dungy says, one team is going to be practicing the next day and the other team is going to be taking their exit physicals, and that's not where you want to be. So, obviously the regular season opening day is intense. It is, but there is no question the playoffs, there's definitely more on the line. So, very similar to last year, it's a must-win for both teams.
Q: You know of course that [the Patriots'] secondary has nowhere near the personnel that they had when they played you in the AFC Championship last year. Is that something that, while you want to take advantage of it, you just absolutely try to block it out for fear that you could take something for granted?
PM: Well, it still just comes down to results. For me, when I watch film, one of the first things I do before I put the game in is kind of check the score of the game. Who won this game? Obviously, with other teams a Week Six game, Denverversus whomever, you might not know who won the game. With New Englandyou always kind of know who won because it's them all the time. Obviously they've had some injuries, but sort of like I said on Sunday, all of their players have stepped up. No matter who has been in, those guys have stepped up and done a good job and helped their team win games. That's really what it's all about, winning games, and they've only lost two this year. That's been extremely impressive.
Q: The Patriots defense is 9 in turnovers this year. They were 17 last year and they had four interceptions off of you in the AFC Championship game last year. When you guys scout them and scout their defense, is one of the top things their ability to get the turnover?
PM: It's important obviously for any defense, but New England has always done a good job of that, is creating turnovers, whether it's getting interceptions or stripping the ball and getting fumbles or getting sack fumbles. They've always made them at the right times, too. When their team has needed a boost maybe, their defense has always come through. So, that's something that's always important when you play against them is to try and protect the ball and that's something we haven't done a very good job of. Some of it's been our [fault]. A lot of it's been them though, causing the turnovers and it's a credit to them. So, hopefully we can protect the ball better this time.
Q: Have you been practicing outside this week?
PM: I don't know if I can tell you that or not.
Q: How conscious are you of the weather after playing indoors at home?
PM: People make a big deal out of that. It's something that we don't really talk about. I still think it just depends on who's playing the best on that particular Sunday, whether you're playing at home or away or in a dome or in weather or whatnot. Obviously, whoever plays the best on that Sunday usually wins. The one thing about New England, playing at their place, they always play well there. They've been extremely tough to beat, haven't lost there in a long time and they truly know how to defend their home turf and that's a credit to them.
Q: What you do in terms of calling signals a lot at the line of scrimmage, how different is it and how much of an adjustment to go from a home venue like last Sunday to a very loud away venue like this Sunday?
PM: Well, it's always a challenge, obviously, any time you play on the road. Whether you're an audible team or a non-audible team, just calling the play in the huddle can be a challenge and everybody has to focus in because if one guy doesn't hear the play then, all ten other guys do their job and one guy doesn't hear it, then you have a bad play. So, it just takes everybody focusing in, trying to hear everything the quarterback is saying, all the line calls. There's no question that the crowd is extremely loud there in Foxborough and it makes it really tough for the opponents to come in there and play.
Q: A lot of great athletes in all different sports have had sort of one team that they've had to get past in order to become champions. Do you feel like you're sort of tied to the Patriots in that sense?
PM: Well, obviously I can't argue with what's happened in the past, but I really don't dwell on it a whole lot. There's really not much point in talking about last year's game or this season's game earlier this year or years past. But, there's no question that New Englandhas kind of been the dominant team of the past three years and they're doing it again this year. Like I said, it's a different season for both teams and it's such a 'what have you done for me lately' league. I'm pretty sure it'll be a great ballgame on this particular Sunday here in 2005.
Q: Could you just talk a little bit about how much better your offense is than it was last season? First of all, do you agree with that premise?
PM: Well, I think anytime you have a number of the same guys back I think you should be better just because of the experience. Dallas Clark, it's his second year. Brandon Stokley, it's his second year in the offense. Even me, it's my seventh year. I had a lot of experiences last year, whether it's more two-minute drills or blitzes that you face. I think anytime you have more experience, the better off you're going to be. If you did well against it, you learn from it. If you struggled against it, you learn from it and you try to do better the next time. So, like I said, for the most part, offensively, everybody is back. Although, [on the] offensive line we really shuffled in some young guys due to some injuries. Those guys have played well, but like I said, the more experience you have the better off you're going to be. I think that's your best teacher. But, I still believe that just because you did something last year or did something last week doesn't really matter a whole lot going into the next week. You still have to go in there and do it on that particular Sunday.
Q: What has it been like dealing with the publicity that comes along with the season you've had this year? Is it overwhelming?
PM: Well, I feel like growing up being the son of a quarterback in New Orleans, I've sort of been around it. Obviously in the NFL the attention has been as high as it ever has been, but the thing for me that's really made it easier is we've been winning football games. I think the one thing that would have been frustrating or made it harder is if we'd had a bad team season this year and every week all they were talking about the touchdown record or whatnot. But, for me, since we've been winning games it's been very easy just to concentrate on doing