Patriots not underestimating Manning

Wed Jan 20, 2016 2:35pm EST
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By Frank Pingue

(Reuters) - Peyton Manning has been plagued by injury and questionable form recently but the New England Patriots are not underestimating the Denver Broncos quarterback's ability heading into their pivotal AFC championship game.

The five-time NFL Most Valuable Player will be two months shy of his 40th birthday when he takes the field for what could be the final game of his storied career but the Patriots know he still can still dominate a game.

"Peyton's a great player. We've had tremendous battles against him through the years," Patriots coach Bill Belichick said on Wednesday.

"There's no player off our team that I have any more respect for than Peyton Manning. So, you know, his preparation, his consistency, his skills, I would never ever, ever underestimate him under any circumstances."

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady has won 11 of 16 career meetings versus Manning, and while the former is on top of his game he knows what his on-field rival for decades is capable of.

"To play against those Peyton Manning-led teams you know you have to play 60 minutes and you know you are going to be in for a tough game," Brady told reporters.

"They are going to take advantage of the opportunities they get and we have to take care of the football because you don’t want to give it to these guys on a short field."

Manning's career was cast into doubt in 2011 when he had multiple neck surgeries, missed an entire season and was cut by his former team, the Indianapolis Colts.   Continued...

Jan 3, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning (18) prepares to pass the football in the fourth quarter against the San Diego Chargers at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. The Broncos defeated the Chargers 27-20. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports