INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Peyton Manning showed some compassion for his little brother. It didn’t help — the Indianapolis Colts pummeled Eli anyway.
Big brother Peyton dispensed with his usual encouragement for his defense to get after the opposing quarterback. No matter: Peyton proved he still rules America’s first family of quarterbacks and the Colts dominated Eli’s New York Giants 38-14 Sunday night.
Manning Matchup II was no contest.
“No, I didn’t,” four-time league MVP Peyton said of dropping his pregame pep talk. He didn’t need to do all that much thanks to the way Indy’s running backs, offensive line and defense gouged the Giants (1-1).
“I really just kind of focused on the defense and on our running game,” Peyton said after he threw for three touchdowns. “This was a different kind of game for me. The run really was the ticket tonight.”
But the focus, naturally, was on Peyton vs. Eli.
“I told him I loved him,” Peyton said of their 10-minute conversation after the game. “I think they will be fine. They play the Titans next week and we’ll being pulling hard for them to help us in the AFC South. We will do our best to help them when we play all these NFC East teams.
“I am proud of him and I love him.”
One week after a distressingly lopsided loss at Houston, the Colts (1-1) looked like defending AFC champions. They made Eli and his team resemble amateurs, forcing two quarterback fumbles that gave Indianapolis 14 points.
Four years ago, in the first meeting of sibling NFL quarterbacks, Peyton’s Colts won 26-21 at the Meadowlands. Five months later, he guided Indy to the Super Bowl title.
A year later, it was Eli matching that championship, leading the Giants to one of the NFL’s biggest upsets over undefeated New England.
The brothers even have grabbed the spotlight away from the field with a series of commercials, including one in which Eli locks Peyton in a closet before heading to the stadium. Maybe he should have used that strategy Sunday night.
The Mannings chatted during pregame warmups and met at midfield for the coin toss, twice shaking hands, but otherwise they could have been total strangers during the game. There were no signs of Peyton wincing on the sideline — or father Archie cringing in the stands — while Eli was being pounded.
Eli was hugged by both parents after the loss and refused to address the matchup after the game.
“We couldn’t get into a rhythm,” he said. “The whole first half, when you can’t get first downs, it’s hard as an offense to get into all your plays and your calls, and a lot of three-and-outs.
“They outplayed us, and that’s what it came down to.”
Archie, hurrying down the hall behind the locker rooms, was asked what he does on nights like this when he has one son on each side. He smiled, shrugged his shoulders and said, “I don’t know. It’s tough.”
It was toughest on Eli, for sure.
Indy was unrelenting on the pass rush, unnerving the younger Manning and forcing a fumble on Robert Mathis’ sack late in the second quarter. That’s not the kind of break you give the Colts, and big brother threw for 43 yards on a TD drive that ended with Austin Collie’s 3-yard reception with 9 seconds left in the half. That made it 24-0.
Eli nearly was sacked on the first play of the second half, but then showed some resilience by taking New York 87 yards for its first score. He hit Mario Manningham for a 54-yard touchdown pass against a blitz.
But Dwight Freeney sacked the New York QB on the next series, and Fili Moala rolled into the end zone with the loose ball. Giants coach Tom Coughlin just shook his head in frustration while Eli dejectedly trudged to the sideline.
Freeney and Mathis each had two sacks.
“We go into every game thinking this is what it is going to be,” Freeney said. “I think as a player you have to think that way, that we are going to shut these guys down. It doesn’t happen every week, obviously … it’s not surprising.”
It clearly wasn’t just Peyton over Eli that decided this ballyhooed Week 2 game, however. Indy’s ability to run over the Giants was just as crucial.
Joseph Addai, who gained 44 yards at Houston, nearly doubled that in the first half with 80 yards rushing. Donald Brown added 44, and by game’s end they accumulated 156.
They keyed an 80-yard drive to open things, getting 33 yards on seven carries, with Brown surging through a huge hole on the left side for 7 yards and a TD.
Indianapolis never backed off as Addai and Brown alternated dominating New York’s defense, particularly on a 98-yard march capped by Peyton’s perfect lob throw to Dallas Clark.
The Colts were weak against the run last week, surrendering 257 yards overall, 231 to Houston’s Arian Foster. The Giants have a far more vaunted ground game than the Texans, yet managed only 120, much of it in garbage time.
“Whenever we can have the game go our way, when we score a lot of points, the way our defense is designed, when we get those leads, we make them one dimensional, and it is playing into our hands,” Freeney said. “That’s playing into my game and I can kind of make some things happen.”
All the while, Eli was looking like a lost younger brother, and he wasn’t going to get bailed out by Peyton. He went 3 for 8 for 17 yards in the first half, which included a deep pass into triple coverage that was intercepted by Jerraud Powers. Although he hit the long pass to Manningham in the third quarter and a 31-yard TD to Hakeem Nicks with 1:46 to go, Eli wound up 13 for 24 for 161 yards.
Peyton finished his winning night with a 10-yard TD pass to Reggie Wayne with 9:11 remaining.
Notes: Peyton was 20 for 26 for 255 yards. … Clark’s TD catch was the 43rd such connection with Peyton, tying for second with Sonny Jurgensen and Jerry Smith for quarterback-to-tight end scores. … Peyton and Wayne have hooked up for 63 TDs since 2001 to tie John Unitas and Raymond Berry for second place in franchise history. Peyton and Marvin Harrison set an NFL record with 112 TDs. … The Giants forced five turnovers last week and only one against the Colts. … Giants RB Brandon Jacobs unintentionally threw his helmet into the stands in the third quarter and security had to retrieve it from the fans.