Perfect Peyton trying to rewrite script in rematch with Chargers Print
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Wednesday, 09 January 2008 12:40
NFL Headline News

 INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Peyton Manning would like to forget his last trip to San Diego.
Good luck this week.
After throwing a franchise-record six interceptions in arguably his worst performance as a pro quarterback, the Super Bowl MVP tried to talk Wednesday about this weekend's rematch with the Chargers. Instead, everyone wanted to know what happened on that nightmarish November night.
``Bad quarterback play by me is the main reason we didn't execute on offense,'' Manning said, referring to the Colts' 23-21 loss to the Chargers.
For the usually perfect Peyton, this is an uncharacteristic and uncomfortable spot.
Instead of talking about victories, record-setting accomplishments or even his next Super Bowl quest, Manning still finds himself explaining his poor performance in San Diego even if matters little now.
The truth is it can happen to anyone.
Hall of Famers Norm Van Brocklin and Bobby Layne each threw six interceptions in postseason games. The league's only three-time MVP, Brett Favre, also threw six in a playoff game in 2001. Hall of Famer Bob Waterfield and former league MVP Ken Stabler threw seven in a regular-season games.
But when it happens to Manning, it's a shock.
``That one, I think, is real surprising,'' Chargers coach Norv Turner said, chuckling. ``We certainly can't count on that happening again. I'd be surprised if he threw three. My guess is that is a once-in-a-lifetime thing.''
The numbers support Turner's premise.
Manning, a two-time league MVP, threw 14 interceptions this season - nearly half in the rain at San Diego (12-5), and four of those came in a little more than one quarter.
Over the rest of Manning's 10-year NFL career, he's never thrown more than four in a game and had four only twice.
One explanation was injuries.
Manning relied on a makeshift offense that started the game without receivers Marvin Harrison and Anthony Gonzalez, tight end Dallas Clark, left tackle Tony Ugoh and then lost right tackle Ryan Diem during the game with yet another injury.
Co. out of sorts.
``I think it shows that we're human, I guess,'' Clark said. ``It's one of those things you just don't see from Indianapolis very often.''
And it's something Manning doesn't want to repeat.
The AFC West champion Chargers finished the season as the league's best in forcing turnovers (48) and has limited Manning to a 71.3 rating in five career games.
So Manning has taken it upon himself to make corrections.
``Every one (interception) I've ever thrown has its own story, but nobody wants to hear it,'' he said. ``I give full credit to San Diego for all the plays they made, and like I said, I'm critical of myself. I think I could have made much better decisions and much better throws.''
Getting healthy should help Manning exorcise those memories.
Ugoh and Diem are both expected to start Sunday, and rather than relying on unheralded receivers Craphonso Thorpe and Aaron Moorehead, Harrison, Gonzalez and Clark are all expected to play.
Harrison, the eight-time Pro Bowler, has been out since Oct. 22 because of an injured left knee. Coach Tony Dungy wouldn't say definitively Harrison would play Sunday, but that's clearly the expectation.
``He'll probably play,'' Dungy said. ``I can't say without a doubt he'll play because we thought he'd play last week and he didn't, so you never know.''
Manning looks at Sunday's second-round playoff game another way. Rather than worry about who he's working with, Manning is focused on how he can play better. He spent last weekend studying film, acknowledging he spent a little more time looking at the Chargers' defense.
Will it help? Perhaps.
``I still think what happened earlier or what happened in years past, past playoff games, whatever it may be, I don't think carries a lot of relevance,'' he said. ``It still comes down to who plays better on Sunday, and that's what we're trying to do.'
 

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