On Sunday night, the Colts had a chance to hit the star player -- who now plays for the Denver Broncos -- for the first time, and they took advantage. They sacked Manning four times in the 39-33 Colts victory and more than once hit his arm while he was trying to throw, at one point jarring loose a fumble that left the end zone for a safety.
“Oh gosh. We were hitting that boy, and hitting him, and hitting him,” defensive end Cory Redding said. “And if we weren’t hitting on him, we were stepping on his feet. Pushing him. Breathing on him. Letting him know we’re there. That gets to him. And all we tried to do was just get pressure on [No.] 18 and make him uncomfortable.”
Colts Coach Chuck Pagano said the defensive emphasis coming into the game was to play better on third down and to create turnovers. The Broncos came into the game having converted an NFL-best 57.5% of their third downs (42 of 73). They converted 31% (five of 16) against the Colts.
As for creating turnovers, Indianapolis collected an interception and two fumbles, with one of those fumbles coming on a strip-sack by Robert Mathis for a safety.
“It was huge. It’s unbelievable,” Pagano said of the sack-fumble. “Again, [Manning had] only been sacked five times going into the game. Timing and rhythm offense, nobody does it better than he does it. They get the ball out awful quick. It’s hard to get to him.”
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