Rush will have to be fast to catch this quarterback
FOXBOROUGH - The Patriots will try to perform one of the most difficult tasks in football tonight: sacking Peyton Manning.
On the 322 plays he has dropped back to pass this season, Manning has been sacked seven times. That rate of 2.2 percent leads the NFL, and it owes more to Manning than his offensive line.
“He gets rid of the ball,’’ Patriots coach Bill Belichick said. “He throws it away. The only way to sack him is for somebody to come that he doesn’t expect - the guy’s blocked and he beats a block and Peyton’s not thinking about him or for some reason he just doesn’t see him. If he sees him coming, he’ll get rid of the ball. And he has a quick release anyway.
“Historically, we’ve seen people blitz him, and the blitzer comes clean from the center-guard gap or right from the line of scrimmage, and he still gets rid of it. And sometimes for big plays.’’
“It’s not so difficult getting to him,’’ linebacker Tully Banta-Cain said. “It’s getting to him before he throws the ball. He has a quick release. We watch film, you see him getting hit almost every time. But he’s getting the ball off and completing it.’’
Still, the quick release does not negate the importance of applying pressure. According to ProFootballFocus.com, Manning has a 108.5 passer rating when not facing pressure and a 91.2 rating when facing it.
“He’s a very poised guy in the pocket, but he can get happy feet,’’ Banta-Cain said. “The more you can get him to move around and have him stumble around the pocket, that buys time for guys on the back end to stay on their coverage.’’
“I look at this Colts secondary, and I look at a Colts secondary that’s in trouble,’’ said former Patriots safety Rodney Harrison, now an analyst for NBC. “If you’re Tom Brady and the Patriots, you have to look to really exploit that secondary and take shots down the field.’’
The Patriots faced a pair of rookies in a 59-0 victory over Tennessee and last week in their 27-17 win over the Dolphins. In those games, Brady completed 54 of 71 passes for 712 yards and 7 touchdowns.
No player is more affected by noise on the road than the quarterback. Because he was injured last season, Brady has not yet played in Lucas Oil Stadium.
“Communication is a problem for the offense, there’s no doubt about that,’’ he said. “Any dome is typically loud. The RCA Dome was exceptionally loud; you couldn’t hear anything in there.
“I’ve heard that this is a fairly loud stadium. The RCA Dome was, I think from what I hear, a little bit louder. Peyton actually told me that.’’
Adam Kilgore can be reached at email@example.com.