We know Peyton Manning studies everything there is to study about each opponent. As soon as the Jets beat the Chargers, Manning said Wednesday, he immediately began poring over Jets tapes to prepare for Sunday's AFC Championship Game.
So, you figure Manning is a veritable Library of Congress when it comes to his knowledge of the Jets, Rex Ryan and the defense he brought from Baltimore. But when the Colts quarterback was asked to explain his 4-0 record against Ryan-coached defenses in complete games (omitting the 29-15 loss Dec. 27 in which he was pulled mid-third quarter), the NFL MVP became very selective with his fact-checking.
"I've never really looked at it that way,'' Manning said in Indianapolis. "We've beaten the Ravens a number of times when he was defensive coordinator, but we've had great matchups against his style of defense.
"I really don't think that's relevant to this game. Certainly, the Jets have their own identity, and I think they do things differently than he did in Baltimore because of the personnel they have. It's a completely different challenge, in my opinion.''
Manning declined to discuss the Jets' defensive philosophy in detail except to say Ryan has tailored it to the strengths of the players he has now. That includes All-Pro cornerback Darrelle Revis, who pretty much takes away the receiver he's covering. Asked if Revis might dictate where the ball goes, Manning sidestepped again.
"I can't tell you how it's going to dictate,'' he said. "I can tell you he's an excellent player, and he's had an excellent season. He seems to find a way to get his hands on the ball. He's had two interceptions in these past two playoff games, which have come at pivotal times. You can tell they have a lot of confidence in him. How that affects where we throw the ball, I'll probably have to wait until Sunday to tell you that.''
Manning said he will pay attention to Revis' location at all times, but he added, "I usually try to know where all 11 of them are before the play. That usually gives me a better chance.''
Despite his success against Ryan's defenses, Manning has struggled at times against the 3-4, Ryan's base defense. But he discounted that, too, saying, "I can't tell you what our statistics are versus a 3-4 defense versus a four-down [4-3] defense. The Jets play a little of everything, four-down, three-down.''
Colts coach Jim Caldwell acknowledged the problems his team has had against the Patriots' 3-4 alignment, but added, "I would say you can't make a blanket statement about that because I can rattle off a [good] game or two . . . I think we certainly know what to expect. We've faced that defense on a number of different occasions, and it's our job to execute better.''
So somebody in the Colts' organization is paying attention to what Manning has done against Ryan. So, it might be a factor come Sunday.
Manning agreed that it's important to "seize the moment,'' and when asked if he expects to play four quarters against the Jets, he replied: "I do, yeah.''