Harbaugh, Ravens brace for rejuvenated Manning
As much as the Ravens would like nothing more than to keep Peyton Manning in check, they’re concerned with the bigger picture.
That is beating the Denver Broncos on Sunday, clinching the AFC North and a playoff berth and ending a two-game losing streak at M&T Bank Stadium.
As the quarterback of the Indianapolis Colts, Manning has had his way with the Ravens. He has won eight in a row since 2001, including a 15-6 playoff victory in 2007 in Baltimore.
"He’s been the quarterback of teams that have beaten the Ravens for many, many years," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "That’s a point of pride. No doubt about it. We hear it from everybody.
"It definitely bristles you up a little bit if you have any kind of pride at all. It’s part of the deal, but that’s not what wins you football games. Playing well wins -- all three phases, playing complementary football -- good, tough, physical, solid, sound, fundamental football is what wins games. That’s what we’ll try to do."
Manning has been almost unstoppable for the Broncos (10-3), who already have clinched the AFC West. He has passed for 3,812 yards, 30 touchdowns and just 10 interceptions. Manning missed all of 2011 because of neck surgery before being released by the Colts.
Ravens running back Ray Rice holds Manning in such high regard, he'd vote for him for Comeback Player of the Year over Adrian Peterson, who has come back from a knee ligament tear to lead the NFL in rushing with the Minnesota Vikings.
"I’m a running back … Don’t hold it against me, Adrian Peterson, but I have to say Peyton Manning. I have to say it. I’ve never seen a guy come back after an ACL like that. In my history of playing football, I’ve never seen a guy come back that fast off of an ACL," Rice said. "I know he’s a beast, but … you are talking about something about (Manning’s) neck. When you hear about neck injuries, you usually hear about someone being done for their career.
"No matter what it was, the guy had surgery, lost all his strength in his arm, had to gain it back. He had to even get comfortable back there taking a snap. To see him come back and lighting it up the way he is, (Manning gets) my vote in the Comeback Player of the Year."