INDIANAPOLIS – Peyton Manning said he was “somewhat relieved” when his first game as an Indianapolis Colts opponent came to an end.
Manning, who spent 14 years with the Colts, threw for 386 yards and three touchdowns in the Denver Broncos' 39-33 loss to the Colts on Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Here are some of his postgame comments:
What did you think of the pregame tribute?
“It was very nice. It was very nice gesture of the Colts to do that, I truly appreciated it and it was a great reception from the fans and I truly appreciated that as well. It's something I will always remember, very grateful for it. It was a pretty special moment to have there and something I will always remember.”
It seemed that the Robert Mathis sack-fumble and the safety was pretty big there.
“That was a big play. Certainly any time you give them the safety and give them the ball again, it's potentially a nine-point swing. Robert Mathis is a great player. It was a great play by him and that was one, among others, a couple of plays where we gave them some points or some field position and ultimately it was too tough to overcome.”
During the span where you punted five or six straight times, was the Colts defense doing anything specifically to disrupt the offense?
“I thought they played excellent on defense. I think our execution was not as good as we would like it to be. That second drive was good, had a couple of big plays, had two third-and-ones and two first down plays that were really good and two out of those first three drives had two third-and-ones and got stopped and then hit a little bit of a rut there. There were some three-and-outs so give their defense a lot of credit and then our execution just wasn't as sharp. First down, second down, third down we could not find much of a rhythm.”
Was it difficult to go with a 'makeshift line' in terms of moving guys around due to injuries?
“Injuries are a part of it and you have to be able to overcome those things. We had some guys playing in different spots tonight and it is never easy to play on the road in a loud stadium against a good pass rush. We will learn from it and try to be better next time.”
How different was this game from the others and what was your range of emotion tonight?
“There is no question that it was emotional during that tribute. I thought I came back pretty quickly. I was ready to play for kickoff. I felt probably a little tired coming into this week. I am kind of in some ways somewhat relieved that this game is over and I feel like hopefully we will have a chance to play these guys again because that would mean we made the playoffs. We have a long way to go before then but you can certainly see them being in the postseason for sure and if there is a next time, it may be a little bit easier just because it was somewhat of an emotional week and it can be a little bit draining, I will say that.”
Do you think you lost any arm strength after the first Mathis hit?
“I throw a lot of wobbly passes. I throw a lot of wobbly touchdowns too. It was a good hit so I can't say it did it but it was certainly a good hit, a healthy one as I would call it.”
Is this something that you will be able to put behind you?
“Well like I said this is a game that we need to learn from. We had four turnovers and still had a chance to win that game. I would have like to have seen it go to a two-point game down there toward the end and seen what would have happened, but it never quite got to that point, but you can go back to different parts of the game where we got behind and the mistakes there, but we still had a chance there at the end so we did fight and hung in there. I think we can learn from it. We certainly have to improve from this game because we weren't sharp execution-wise as we'd like to be.”
Did you think that was a touchdown to Eric Decker?
“I didn't see it. I didn't have a good angle and I didn't get to see a replay or whatnot. That was a critical play. Like I said, I didn't get to see it, but after that, we got a couple of penalties and had to end up settling for a field goal there.”
What was different about this defense than the other teams you've seen this year?
“I don't really make comparisons. Every defense you play is unique and they obviously have specific players that play specific schemes so every defense is different.”
Did you have a chance to see Edgerrin James and Marvin Harrison?
“I did. I saw Edgerrin and Marvin. They came into the locker room and had a really good visit with them. It was really neat and had a good visit with Jeff Saturday and (Ryan) Diem at the hotel last night and so I don't get to see those guys enough so I really enjoyed the time I got to spend with all four of those guys.”
Is this something you had to prepare yourself for?
“It's kind of hard to prepare for because it's a pretty unique situation, but I certainly prepared hard during the week for the opponent and I felt prepared to play the game, as far as my study and preparation was the same. I had some advice from folks to take that moment and appreciate that little tribute there but I don't feel that that was a distraction by any means. I was fully prepared to play but like I said, I was probably more tired coming into this game than others, but I guess that's just natural.”
Did you have any communication with Jim Irsay this week?
“I didn't see him today but we communicated late this week.”
Now that it is over, is there any disappointment about how the week played out with the comments?
“Yeah I think that I can move past that but I can't speak for others. I don't see that being a lasting thing. This was a good football game with two good teams and I enjoyed coming back here. I appreciated Jim Irsay, he was the one who called for that tribute and I appreciated that very much and I let him know so. The game was disappointing for us and something we can learn from. I don't see that being a lasting factor.”