INDIANAPOLIS — Peyton Manning would rather focus on winning games than chasing milestones, and now his Indianapolis Colts teammates and coaches understand why.
Picking a favourite accomplishment is tough stuff — especially on a weekend that he’s chasing three NFL records and trying to enter one of the league’s most exclusive clubs.
“You’re asking me which (one) is the most impressive?” kicker Adam Vinatieri said, laughing.
“You’re asking me to pick between which car I’d rather have, a Lamborghini or a Ferrari. The answer is yes.”
It’s not just another game for the only four-time MVP in league history. It could be the most historic day of his remarkable career.
When Manning takes his first snap against the Titans, he will break Gene Upshaw’s league record for most consecutive regular-season starts to open a career. The two are tied at 207.
That’s just the start.
Beating the Titans would send the Colts into the playoffs for a ninth consecutive year, tying the league record Dallas set from 1975-83. If Manning throws for 300 yards, he would have 64 career 300-yard games, one more than Dan Marino’s NFL record. And if Manning throws three TD passes, he will join Marino and Brett Favre as the third member of the 400 TD club.
Should one of those TD passes go to his favourite receiver, Reggie Wayne would break a tie with Hall of Famer Raymond Berry for second in franchise history. Wayne and Berry each have 68.
Not bad for a day’s work.
Pro Bowl defensive end Dwight Freeney and receiver Pierre Garcon believe the most notable feat this weekend would be extending the team’s streak of playoff appearances.
Manning has taken the Colts to the playoffs 10 times in 12 seasons, and only five of his current teammates — right tackle Ryan Diem, running back Dominic Rhodes, centre Jeff Saturday, long-snapper Justin Snow and Wayne — have ever missed the playoffs.
Three of those — Diem, Rhodes and Wayne — were rookies when the Colts stayed home in 2001.
“I think the playoff streak is the most impressive because it’s so hard to get there and there are so many variables that can cause you to not get there,” Freeney said.
Coach Jim Caldwell and linebacker Clint Session are more amazed by Manning’s incredible durability.
In 13 NFL seasons, Manning has never missed a start. His streak ranks second only to Favre among NFL quarterbacks and when you count playoff games Manning has started 225 consecutive games.
Caldwell, who has been coaching more than three decades and was Manning’s position coach for seven years, understands how challenging it’s been for Manning to play every single week.
“Often times people look at the consecutive games played for a quarterback and they look at that like it’s supposed to happen that way. But it takes a very, very tough individual to string them together like that,” Caldwell said. “That I think is very, very difficult to do. That’s quite a feat.”
But Manning has a way of making things look routine.
It took Marino 17 seasons to throw 420 TDs, a number Manning will likely catch next year — despite playing three fewer seasons — and at least one Colts receiver wouldn’t mind be paired with Manning in the trivia books.
“It would be pretty cool to catch No. 400 and be part of one of the many records he has,” Garcon said with a smile.
Manning, as usual, isn’t thinking about a milestone game day. He’d rather focus on beating the Titans.
“Every single team we’ve played all season we’ve concentrated on that team and that team alone and haven’t looked at anything else,” he said.