INDIANAPOLIS — Mathis practiced against Manning every day for eight years, but he never had a chance to hit him. Tonight, it will be one of the defense's chief goals.
"He's a quarterback so that's my job," Mathis said of taking a crack at the four-time NFL MVP. "I aim to do it."
Getting pressure on Manning seems to be the best chance of disrupting his record-setting rhythm. The Jacksonville Jaguars hit the quarterback repeatedly early in last week's game and forced an uncharcteristic three turnovers.
But Manning still finished with 295 passing yards and two touchdowns in a 35-19 victory.
"He's a good quarterback," Colts defensive coordinator Greg Manusky said. "He gets rid of the ball. He knows what (defense) you're in. It's like playing an offensive coordinator, but he's got an arm. We got a tough task ahead of us, but we're up for it."
Broncos head coach John Fox feels his team has plenty on its plate, as well.
He gives high marks to Luck — whom he coached last year in the Pro Bowl — and his receiving crew, but he also sees a challenge lining up against Indianapolis' defense.
"Defensively, you've got Mathis, who we also had in the Pro Bowl, a terrific young talent as well as person, leading the league in sacks," Fox said. "I think the secondary's playing really well, tight coverage and doing an outstanding job. I think Chuck, they play very hard for him. They're well-coached, and that's why they're 4-2."
Despite all the kind words in recent days, there has been a bit of an edge this week. Denver columnists — and more than a few members of the national media — reacted strongly when Irsay's comments were interpreted as a slight against Manning.