Shouldering the blame
Manning taking responsibility for Colts' offensive woesPosted: Monday November 26, 2001 10:41 PM
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- Peyton Manning blames himself.
After throwing a career-high four interceptions in Sunday's loss to San Francisco, Manning watched the film and came away with one conclusion: He was the reason.
"Yesterday, I said we turned the ball over. I turned the ball over," Manning said Monday. "It's kind of what I thought yesterday, that the interceptions were either balls that should have been thrown more accurately or shouldn't have been thrown at all."
Manning's performance Sunday certainly was unusual.
He attempted 51 passes, something he's only done three other times in his professional career, and while he completed 31 passes for 370 yards and one touchdown, the one glaring number was the four interceptions.
San Francisco scored 23 points off Manning's misfires, three of which came in the game's final 19 minutes and ruined any chance of a Colts comeback.
For Manning, a two-time Pro Bowl selection and a master of accuracy, the performance was inexplicable.
"Usually, you say you win as a team, you lose as a team," Manning said. "But I truly feel like I cost us the game."
Manning's problems didn't start Sunday.
With four interceptions against the 49ers, Manning has thrown 16 this season -- one more than he did in either of the past two seasons when he led the Colts to the playoffs -- and there are still six games remaining.
Five of Manning's interceptions have been returned for touchdowns, and when head coach Jim Mora unleashed his postgame critique Sunday, Manning had little trouble reading between the lines.
"He was taking the team to task, but he was really kind of issuing a challenge to me," Manning said. "It really was kind of directed at the quarterback position and I'm the quarterback. I can handle it. I need to play better."
Mora did not say Monday that his words were directed solely at Manning, but he was still upset about the turnovers. The Colts are tied for last in the NFL with a minus-12 turnover ratio.
"We should all be held accountable," Mora said. "I'm ultimately accountable because I'm the coach. Maybe if I'd done a better job of coaching, we wouldn't have turned the ball over five times. I take losses personally, and Peyton's the same way."
The Colts, who many people thought would be a Super Bowl contender, have lost six of eight games.
They lost Edgerrin James, the NFL's two-time rushing champ, for the season with a torn ligament and could be without linebacker Mike Peterson, their best defensive player, for four more games.
At 4-6, their playoff hopes seem all but gone, and they still face an unforgiving schedule that has the Colts playing its next two games on the road against two of the NFL's most aggressive defenses -- Baltimore and Miami.
"That's not good," Mora said. "What else is slipping away? All I can worry about is the next game and winning it."
The greatest worry, however, might be Manning.
Sunday was the first time the Colts played knowing they would be without James for the rest of the season.
Manning's receiving corps also has been depleted by injuries. Starter Jerome Pathon is out for the season with a right foot injury, and his replacement, Reggie Wayne, was inactive Sunday with a sprained right knee. That left the Colts with only four active receivers.
Was Manning trying to do too much?
"I told him we've all been there," said veteran Mark Rypien, Manning's backup. "I think that's part of it and we haven't been as effective as we wanted running the football. We need to get Dominic [Rhodes] the ball as if Edge was here so we can take some pressure off Peyton."
Despite Manning's struggles, his teammates still believe he will be the one to lead the Colts out of this funk.
"You can't blame it on one guy," right tackle Adam Meadows said. "Look, No. 18 [Manning's jersey number] is the same guy who was here two years ago when we were 13-3 and he turned this boat around."