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Colts' Manning turns attention to beating Chargers

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Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning (18) leaves the field after they lost to the New England Patriots 31-28 in an NFL football game in Foxborough, Mass., Sunday, Nov. 21, 2010. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson) Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning (18) leaves the field after they lost to the New England Patriots 31-28 in an NFL football game in Foxborough, Mass., Sunday, Nov. 21, 2010. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)
San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Colts quarterback Peyton Manning stood at his locker Wednesday and admitted it all over again.

The interception that cost Indianapolis a shot at beating New England was his and his alone.

"It's just accurate," Manning said succinctly. "I do do that, you know, make mistakes."

It's true, Manning makes his share, hard as it might seem when talking about the only four-time MVP in league history and a guy who was once dubbed Perfect Peyton.

Living through three days like this is rare for Manning.

Over all those hours, the play has been replayed countless times in Indianapolis and fans continually see the same thing: A Patriots pass rusher forcing Manning to alter his throwing motion and the ball floating in between Pierre Garcon in the end zone and Jacob Tamme at about the Patriots 8-yard line. New England's James Sanders made the acrobatic interception to preserve a 31-28 victory.

The biggest question in Indy this week has been: Was it really Manning's fault or was he talking the fall for somebody else?

Manning has not changed his stance, though teammates clearly have a different opinion about what happened.

"It's definitely one of those deals that happens and everybody on the field could have done something better," Tamme said Wednesday. "I think you look at yourself first and that's what everybody on this team does."

Manning included.

But with Sunday night's showdown against San Diego looming, and the chase for the AFC South title moving into high gear, Manning doesn't have time to look back.

He'd rather make amends the only way he really knows how.

"This game is more like last week's in that we understand we have to play well on offense and score some points because their offense is excellent and you do have to score some points," he said.

And that's not always been easy in this contest.

Yes, Manning got the first of his 137 career victories against the Chargers in 1998. Yet he's won just three of the seven meetings since then and lost both playoff games between the teams, following the 2007 and 2008 seasons.

Manning also had some of the worst days of his career against San Diego.

Back in 2005, it was the Chargers who derailed Indy's perfect season with a 26-17 victory at the RCA Dome in Week 15. Manning was picked off twice that day.

Two years later in San Diego, Manning was picked a career-high six times and still had the Colts in position to win it until Adam Vinatieri missed a short field goal in the final minute. Final score: San Diego 23, Indy 21.

And the history of this rivalry makes Sunday's game against the Chargers every bit as important to the Colts as last week's hyped contest in New England.

"We've had some big games, some playoff games, some playoff-type games with them," Tamme recalls. "And this is another one of those."

The difference could be Manning, who has thrown only one interception in four home games this season — all wins.

But he will be short-handed yet again this week.

Tight end Dallas Clark and former first-round draft pick Anthony Gonzalez are both on the season-ending injured reserve list and receiver Austin Collie has already been ruled out this week after he left the New England game with concussion-like symptoms in the first quarter. Collie had missed the previous week after sustaining a concussion after a frightening hit on Nov. 7 at Philadelphia.

"There are certain things you can't test," coach Jim Caldwell said. "We're not going to take him out on the practice field and tackle him because we don't tackle anybody on the practice field. We'll monitor him and when he's ready to go, they'll release him and we'll get back at it again."

Manning also could be missing running back Joseph Addai, who hasn't played since Oct. 17 because of a nerve injury in his left shoulder. Addai is scheduled to return to practice this week although he said Monday that he still had trouble carrying the ball and protecting himself.

All those injuries have put a greater burden on Manning, who is having another Pro Bowl-type season. He's already thrown for 3,059 yards and 20 TDs and is completing more than 65 percent of his passes.

The one flaw, of course, was Sunday's interception — the one Manning wants to forget about.

"It will be a tough challenge," Manning said. "Certainly, I need to play better than last week. But I do think in order to beat them it has to be a true team win. Everybody has to do their part."

 

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.

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