Colts finally get a chance to sack Manning

INDIANAPOLIS – Indianapolis Colts linebacker Robert Mathis was a 22-year-old rookie trying to turn heads in practice back in 2003. What better way to impress your teammates and the coaches than to sack the quarterback, right?

Not if that quarterback’s name is Peyton Manning.

Mathis found that out the hard way when he got chewed out for coming within 2 yards of the team’s former franchise quarterback.

“I came pretty close my rookie year, and I got an earful from more than just the coaches,” Mathis said. “You learn from it. … You don’t want to hurt your quarterback. They’re the engine to the team. You can’t hit him.”

Mathis and safety Antoine Bethea, another one of Manning’s former teammates, will finally get a chance to sack him when he returns with the Denver Broncos on Sunday.

“Yeah, I’m pretty sure we are going to love to get our chances to get P on the ground a few times,” Bethea said. “But like I continue to say, it’s going to be a fun game. The atmosphere is going to be crazy Sunday night. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”

Manning was asked to compare facing his younger brother, New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning, to going against the Colts.

“I guarantee Robert Mathis hits a heck a lot of harder than Eli does,” Manning said. “From that standpoint, it’s definitely different. … Robert is having a great year.”

The Colts have to get to Manning first. Mathis may be tied for the league lead in sacks with 9.5, but Manning’s instincts make it tough to get him down to the ground. Manning has been only sacked five times, the fewest of any quarterback who has started every game this season.

"He’s a complete quarterback," Mathis said. "He has that mental clock in his head to get rid of the ball and have awareness. You just have to try to get him rattle as much as you can."