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Jets know hitting Manning is their best defense

Quarterback Peyton Manning #18 of the Indianapolis Colts

Quarterback Peyton Manning #18 of the Indianapolis Colts looks to pass the ball in the second half against the Baltimore Ravens. (Jan. 16, 2010) Credit: Getty Images

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. - The thing to remember about four-time MVP Peyton Manning is that he's human. Like other quarterbacks, the 33-year-old Manning doesn't particularly enjoy being hit, and the way Jets safety Kerry Rhodes sees it, Manning might even be a little more gun-shy than most.

"You can just watch Peyton on film," Rhodes said Wednesday. "He doesn't want to get hit. If there's a free guy, he actually will go down and just give up the sack. Once you get pressure on him, he gets to talking to his linemen, and they're a little edgier; they're a little rattled. If you get pressure on him, that's the best way to get at him."

The stats back Rhodes up. Manning was sacked only 10 times all season, and one of the reasons, besides his quick release, is that he's willing to throw an incompletion before losing yardage and taking abuse on a sack. That frustrates a defense almost as much as Manning's ability to recognize everything at the line of scrimmage.

Rhodes sighed when asked how much of the time Manning recognized which defense the Jets were in when they met on Dec. 27.

"It was ridiculous," Rhodes said. "There was one play, I can't remember the [defensive] call, but he pointed and out of the 11 people on defense, he probably said 10 jobs and still had 10 seconds to get the play off. It was pretty remarkable.

"You have to be really prepared to play him. You can't go into the game expecting your game plan to work 100 percent. He's going to make plays. You have to try to hide some of the things you're doing because, if you don't, he's going to make the right play."

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