Giants-Colts Pregame Notes

DE Dwight Freeney (Andy Lyons/Getty)

This week, the Giants defense will face one of its toughest challenges of the season when it squares off against the Indianapolis Colts in a Sunday primetime matchup.

Given the Colts' prolific passing offense — last week, Indianapolis blasted the Texans for 433 passing yards — the Giants' defense is very much in tune with what it has to do to make sure that Peyton Manning doesn't come close to those numbers against them.

"You know what they say," said safety Deon Grant, who could play a big role this week if the Giants deploy a significant does of three safeties to thwart the Colts' passing attack. "When you cut the head off of the monster, you make it ineffective."

Therein lies the challenge of the defense as Manning, the 13-year veteran and future Hall of Famer, has through the years exhibited the precision and accuracy of a micro-surgeon in picking apart opposing defenses.

"The offense goes through Peyton Manning," said LB Keith Bulluck, who as a member of the Tennessee Titans, faced Manning's Colts twice a year for 10 years. "Regardless of who they put in, unless it's a new quarterback, it's systematic. Players use their abilities to their favor to get open and make the offense work. At the same time, No. 18 is the guy who makes it all work."

Yet in listening to the members of the Giants defense, who have the utmost respect for what Manning has accomplished, stopping No. 18 isn't impossible.

For starters, the Giants know that they cannot let Manning dictate the tempo of the game. "You have to hit him early, force some turnovers, and force them to punt once in a while," said quarterback Jim Sorgi, who was Manning's understudy in Indianapolis for six years and who knows Manning very well.

Then there is a matter of not letting Manning's constant mind games at the line of scrimmage create doubt as to what the defense has called.

"I think the main thing is you have to stick to your game plan and not switch it," said cornerback Terrell Thomas. "He's the offensive coordinator on the field. He's making calls and checks, and some are false and some are part of what he's going to do. So what you have to do is know your scheme, trust it, and play as one unit."

Lastly, the key to defeating Manning comes down to the basic concept of executing whatever is called. "Sometimes how much you know doesn't really matter," said Sorgi, who despite rehabbing from shoulder surgery was present this week to help offer some insight to his teammates.

"I can give the defense all the information in the world, but it all comes down to, 'Can we get to Peyton? Can we knock him down? Can we get to him before he gets the ball out?' You can know where a route is coming from and still not cover it. So it's all about executing."

"We're going to try to do what we do best," added cornerback Corey Webster. "We're not going to let anyone dictate to us what we do on defense. If we play the type of defense that we want to be known for around here, then we should be OK."

SERIES HISTORY: 14th regular-season meeting. Colts lead series, 7-6. On Sept. 10, 2006, at a game played at the old Giants Stadium, the Giants hosted the Colts in what was the first game in NFL history that two brothers (Eli and Peyton Manning) led their respective offenses on the same field. Perhaps the most memorable meeting between the two longtime NFL franchises occurred on Dec. 28, 1958 with the then-Baltimore Colts posting a 23-17 overtime win in the 1958 NFL Championship Game at Yankee Stadium. The meeting has been called "The Greatest Game Ever Played." The Colts also defeated the Giants in the NFL Championship game in 1959, this time at Memorial Stadium in Baltimore.

COLTS NOTES AND QUOTES:

  • The second "Manning Bowl" is on tap for Sunday evening at Lucas Oil Stadium (8:20 p.m., NBC).

    "This is the Battle of the Brothers, the Manning Bowl — whatever name all the hype attaches to it," said Colts team president Bill Polian.

    "We're facing a team that ostensibly is a contender for division honors and playoff honors — no question about that. We've got a lot of work to do between now and Sunday night."

  • The Colts have become used to facing adversity in recent years, whether it's battling injuries or getting off to a sluggish start at the beginning of the season.

    "Often times, it's the business of those who cover our team to write what they want in terms of how they view things," coach Jim Caldwell said.

    "The more interesting it is from [the media's] standpoint, the better. I think for us, it's one of those things where it's a long haul. It's Round One of a 16-round fight. What we have to do is continue to get better each and every week. That's what we focus in on."

  • QB Peyton Manning has a career 2-1 won-loss record against the Giants. Manning has completed 75 of 112 passes for 878 yards, six touchdowns and four interceptions. He has a career 86.0 passer rating in three career games with New York.

  • In Manning's only other matchup against younger brother Eli, he completed 25-of-41 passes for 276 yards with a touchdown and an interception in a 26-21 Indianapolis victory (9/10/06).

  • WR Reggie Wayne has hauled in 10 passes for 171 yards and two touchdowns in two career games with the Giants. Both TDs came in 44-27 loss to New York on 12/22/02.

  • The issue of a consistent run defense in last week's season-opening loss to the Texans (257 total yards, 231 by RB Arian Foster) can be fixed, according to Polian.

    "The issue is what we call gap integrity," the Colts team president said. "You can't allow the runner to get a free run into the secondary. We did not have good gap integrity. The bottom line, the answer is it's correctable, and I'm confident we'll do it."

  • Caldwell also believes that the problems associated with the team's leaky run defense can be fixed.

    "I don't think there's any doubt," he said. "It's just a matter of making certain that we get ourselves to do what we've been doing, but just do it a little bit better.

    "I don't think there's any question about it — when you look at our team and just look at the history of it, every year's a little different, but we've been a team that has been able to get ourselves in position to stop the run."

  • What do the Colts need to do this week? "We just get the focus on doing the right thing at the right time. When things don't work out, you simplify, you focus and you do what's absolutely necessary," Polian said.

    "You don't change things, if anything, you dial back a little bit in terms of the number of things you're doing. You focus on detail and execution, and that's what we'll do this week.

  • The Colts began the 2010 season with 14 new players on the roster. Indianapolis has only 10 players exceeding 30 years of age, 35 players being 25 years of age and under. The average age of the Colts this season is 25.5 years.

    BY THE NUMBERS: 11 — Both WR Austin Collie and TE Dallas Clark had 11 receptions each in the Colts' 34-24 season-opening loss to the Houston Texans.

    QUOTE TO NOTE: "Like I always say, and we've always had high standards around here, if he gets hit one time, that's one too many." -- Colts coach Jim Caldwell on the pass protection for QB Peyton Manning.

GIANTS NOTES AND QUOTES

  • When it comes to the Giants wide receivers group, leader Steve Smith said that there is not an ego amongst the unit, which he believes is a key to the group being so successful.

    "We feed off each other," Smith said of the working relationship that exists between him, Hakeem Nicks, Mario Manningham, Ramses Barden, Victor Cruz, and Duke Calhoun. "When one guy does something, the next guy wants to top it, so that helps make each other better."

    Smith believes that the receiving corps, which coming into last year was a big question mark, has come a long way in proving that it's one of the better units in the NFL. "We all came in here with high expectations and we've all developed pretty well, so I think the sky's the limit for us."

    At the same time, he said that the receivers are perfectly fine with continuing to fly under the radar. "We don't take it as a slap in the face," he said of the lack of recognition the group receives as a whole from the national media. "We know we're one of the top units, and we just want to show it every week."

  • With the hype starting to build up over the second edition of the "Manning Bowl," Giants QB Eli Manning says it's important to stay focused on the task at hand, which for him is successfully engineering the Giants offense against the Colts defense.

    "I think you have to try and enjoy it, and understand it is special to look over there and see your big brother on the sidelines," he said of the meeting. "Once that game starts, I'm worried about the Colts' defense. It's not Peyton that's my concern; it's that Colts defense. It's (defensive end) Dwight Freeney and those guys who I'm trying to game plan and get ready to play."

    Manning smiled when he thought about playing against his brother's team. "It was the first game of that season," he recalled. "There were a lot of things going on. With this one, I've been playing a little bit longer. Still, it's going to be fun. It's going to be a great environment. It's my first time to play in the (Lucas Oil) stadium."

    When all is said and done, Manning believes that if he is to come out on top, all he has to do is make sure the offense executes the game plan.

    "All I can do is prepare for the Colts' defense, go out there, and play to the best of my ability. We need the whole team to play well like we did last week, and see if we can get a win."

  • The Giants' decision to waive LB Bryan Kehl, a former fifth-round draft choice of the 2008 draft, made him the highest of that class to be released. Still remaining and contributing from that class are S Kenny Phillips, CB Terrell Thomas, WR Mario Manningham, and LB Jonathan Goff. Kehl, meanwhile, was claimed off waivers by St. Louis.

  • WR Hakeem Nicks' three touchdown receptions against Carolina on opening weekend made him the first player in more than 20 years to score three touchdowns in the first game at a new stadium. Nicks was a nominee for NFC "Offensive Player of the Week" honors, but the award went to Chicago RB Matt Forte.

    BY THE NUMBERS: 7 — The number of Week 2 road games the Giants have won since 2000.

    QUOTE TO NOTE: "Is that a question? Yeah, I know him. He's my brother." — Giants QB Eli Manning, when a reporter jokingly asked if he knew anything about the quarterback (Peyton Manning) the Giants are facing this weekend.


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