Lewis, Manning ready for another chess match Print
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Thursday, 09 October 2008 11:18
NFL Headline News

 INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -Ray Lewis welcomes the ultimate chess match.
He barks out signals to his Baltimore teammates and occasionally calls the plays he thinks Peyton Manning will run. Sometimes he's right, sometimes he's wrong, and sometimes he just gets a wry smile from the Indianapolis quarterback.
What's become an annual meeting between two of the league's biggest headliners, both former Super Bowl MVPs, has turned into more than a traditional cat-and-mouse game: It's a contest of wits.
``I just mess with him a lot of times,'' Lewis said with a menacing laugh. ``When he walks up there, I might just say something, 'All right, now, you better hurry up with that play clock going,''' Lewis said. ``I'm really, most of the time, trying to listen to the little checks, what dummy calls are real, what are not real, things like that.''
Perhaps he wants to distract Manning from making those masterful strokes with his innate ability to call audibles.
uite the same reverence about this rivalry, which will be renewed Sunday in a city the Colts now call home, Indianapolis, rather than the one they called home for more than three decades, Baltimore.
Sure, Manning, the competitor, enjoys plotting moves and countermoves against Lewis and the Ravens, but it requires additional work and the ability to keep a straight face.
``I can hear him sometimes,'' Manning said. ``There have been plenty of times where Ray has called out the play we're running, and he's fairly accurate.''
Yet despite their different outlooks, Manning and Lewis have a deep respect for one another on the field.
Especially for one another's study skills.
``He takes a lot of pride in his profession,'' Manning said. ``I can just tell how much he studies when I play against him and watch him play, and the times I've been around him at the Pro Bowl and talking football with him. He's very knowledgeable.''
Neither needs to spend much time looking at trends this week.
Clearly, the Colts (2-2) haven't been themselves.
They haven't won at home since Dec. 23, a stretch of six games - last year's regular-season finale, a playoff game, and four straight, including two preseason games, at Indy's new Lucas Oil Stadium.
``It's been a long, long time, and we need to get a home winning streak started,'' coach Tony Dungy said.
Another problem has been running the ball.
The Colts' 67.8 yards per game is last in the league, and if they doesn't get that rectified soon, the five-time defending AFC South champs will have a tough time catching unbeaten, division-leading Tennessee.
It also has forced Manning to carry a heavier burden, which has led to an uncharacteristic start that includes five touchdowns and five interceptions.
Lewis expects to see a different Manning on Sunday.
``Peyton knows every coverage,'' Lewis said. ``He can see if the safety rolls in the middle of the field, he's going backside Cover-2. So all of that, he does, he does. I think you just have to really be great in your disguises and be great in not giving him the same look.''
Baltimore (2-2) has succeeded with its traditional approach under new coach John Harbaugh, whose brother Jim is a former Colts quarterback.
The Ravens' strong running game, powered by Willis McGahee and Le'Ron McClain, has helped ease the learning curve for rookie quarterback Joe Flacco. That shouldn't change against the Colts, who are ranked last in the league against the run, too.
And, of course, there's the trademark defense. Lewis and former defensive player of the year Ed Reed have the Ravens back on top of the league - No. 1 against the run, No. 1 against the pass and No. 1 overall.
ring the Colts' Super Bowl run.
All Lewis wants is to make the winning move against Manning.
``We just go at it,'' Lewis said. ``It's kind of like a chess match. Disguising this, disguising that, making sure you're in this position, making sure you're in that position. He's getting his troops right and I'm getting my troops right. I think it's one of the most intriguing matchups just from a brain standpoint that we can really get.''
 

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