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Peyton Manning Press Conference Transcript: I have tremendous respect for the Patriots

Q: You sound a little out of breath.

PM: Oh yeah, I just got off the practice field.

Q: A lot of people were saying that Tom Brady may have been over the hill earlier in the season. Can you give some perspective on what it's like to have people question your ability to get back to playing at an elite level, given your neck injury and what Tom Brady was going through the first few weeks of the season?

PM: It all depends on how much credit you give to quotes, sources, 'they,' 'people.' I've always wanted to meet 'they,' and I've always wanted to meet sources because they seem to say a lot. I'm not speaking for Tom, but my guess is he didn't give 'they' or those people a lot of credibility. As far as me, I'm my own biggest critic. I'm always trying to correct my mistakes and take my coaching. You get graded every game and kind of get graded every practice, and you're always looking to improve. Like I said, I think it's probably a question for Tom what you're really trying to ask, but I think most players are pretty hard on themselves, and they're trying to get better.

Q: Tom Brady praised your toughness and durability today. How much of a point of pride is that for you and how much do you see that in Tom?

PM: Certainly, I think a quarterback's job first and foremost is to be out there. You want your left tackle to be there, you want your tight end to be there, you want your receiver to be there. Well, if your tackle and ends will be there, then you need to be there. I've always wanted to be there. I've always had great respect for [Brett] Favre's consecutive start streak because he was always there. He played hurt and had great toughness and durability. I think Eli [Manning] holds the longest streak now, which speaks to his [durability]. That was always one that I was always kind of proud of – making all those starts – so when I got injured that was difficult because I couldn't be there. I wanted to get back out there, and I've been pleased that I've been able to be there for these past two and a half years. Brady is always there. He is always there. He had his one season where he was injured on the first play of the first game of the season, I think. I know I've talked to him about that, and I know that was difficult for him for a lot of those same reasons. He couldn't be there to help his team, but since then, he's been back and of course playing like Tom Brady does since then. I think that's one of his real strengths is always answering the bell.

Q: There is a large sample size of teams losing the Super Bowl and then struggling the following season. Why hasn't that been the case for your team?

PM: I can't speak for the samples, I guess, and for other teams. We have made changes, added players, lost players. We are trying to establish ourselves in 2014 and still doing that. It's still early in the season. We're still figuring out some things that we're doing well, some things that we're not doing well, putting players in different positions, and so anytime you can win games while still kind of trying to figure out what your identity is and what plays and players you can hang your hat on, that's a good thing. We're approaching kind of the second half of the season. [It's] kind of an interesting schedule the way it's set up. We had a lot of home games and starting out with a three-game road streak, starting out with one of the toughest places – if not the toughest place – to play on the road, and it's going to be a challenge for us.

Q: With the additions of Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner, what do you anticipate seeing from the Patriots defense?

PM: It's hard for me to answer that, I guess. You have to prepare for lots of different things when you play against the Patriots. They're well coached. They have great talent across the field, which allows them to do lots of different things. With the excellent cover corners, it allows them to do a lot of things and, like you said, put those guys out there because they have such great cover skills. It's a matter of trying to be good at what you're doing, and you know you've got to be prepared to handle the different adjustments that they can certainly make you go through during the course of a game.

**

Q:** You play the Patriots almost every year. Do you ever hope not to see them on the schedule so that maybe you have an easier week?

PM: To tell you the truth, of course we used to be in the same division way back in the old AFC East, and then obviously a couple times it was rotational, but for the most part, we were playing them because we won the division and they won the division. It's kind of what you want. You want to be winning the division, which gives you a chance to get in the playoffs, which gives you a chance to win the Super Bowl. You knew they were going to win the division as well. It was a consequence of having a good team the season before and being a contender, and like I said often times in Indianapolis, we played them twice like we did last year into the playoffs, and it's just a credit to their team. I've been fortunate to be on some good teams as well.

Q: Is it inevitable that one team is going to be up by double digits at some point because that seems to be the trend. Any idea why that is?

PM: It's hard to speak for that. I guess I probably don't have a great answer for you on that. Every game can take on a different identity, and so you kind of have to be prepared for all kinds of different scenarios is all I can say.

Q: When facing Darrelle Revis, do you enjoy the possibility of challenging him, or is it something where you just choose to throw to the other guys on the field?

PM: Certainly, it's a great challenge playing against him. He's just a top-notch cover corner that has great ball skills and great quickness, hip transition – all the characteristics of a great cover corner. So, it's a challenge, certainly. With the receivers we have, we're trying to get everybody involved. To get everybody involved, that keeps the player involved and obviously you spread the ball around, and hopefully that can put pressure on the defense. But if you're throwing against him, you better be accurate and you better be running really good routes.

Q: Bill Belichick called you the toughest quarterback he's ever coached against. What does that mean to you to have that level of respect from him?

PM: I'm appreciative of it. Kind of going back to your first question about Brady, I think certainly you've got to have good protection. You've got to have good coaches calling plays where you're not just getting hit nonstop with bad protection schemes or whatnot. I've had good coaching. I've had good, tough offensive linemen that have fought and blocked and done everything they could to try to protect for me, so I've been very appreciative and grateful of that. And of course, I think I've had want, too. Like I said, I've wanted to be out there. That was the hardest thing about that one year not being able to play is I couldn't be out there. I tried like crazy, but I couldn't do it. I was not healthy enough. I think it's pretty well-documented my respect for the Patriots and Bill Belichick as their head coach. Their consistency, their productivity – it's extremely impressive.

Q: You've played with some potential Hall-of-Fame receivers in Indianapolis, but is it too soon to put Demaryius Thomas among the best receivers you've ever thrown to?

PM: It's just kind of been my mental approach is I really haven't made comparisons to the first chapter of my career playing in Indianapolis and the receivers. I've just tried to compare myself to where I was in 2012 and kind of to the players I've played with since 2012. So, Demaryius has been outstanding the entire time I've been here, but he has gotten better every single year. He's better this year than he was last year, and he was awesome last year. I have really enjoyed playing with him. He's got unbelievable talent. Of course, he's probably the biggest receiver I've ever played with, with that kind of size and speed. But I've really appreciated his work ethic, his attitude. He's going to play a long time after I stop playing, so I really have enjoyed playing with him and working with him, and it's been very rewarding with all the hard work that he and I have put in together and seeing that pay off with a touchdown pass or a critical third-down conversion. Those are some of the most rewarding parts of football for me.

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