Colts’ Manning says pressure isn’t getting to him

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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Peyton Manning insists nothing is wrong with his game.

His confidence remains high, he’s still capable of running the Colts’ precision offense to perfection and, at age 34, there’s no indication his skills are slipping.

Still, something is not right with the four-time league MVP.

He threw nine interceptions and was sacked eight times in November, arguably the worst month since his rookie season, and now takes a 6-5 record into a December that likely will determine Indy’s playoff fate.

These are unusual times for Manning and the Colts, who play host to Dallas on Sunday.

“We’re 6-5, you can argue that that is different,” Manning said. “Out of sorts? No. Not confident? No. I would not agree with that. I feel that I need to play better for us to have a chance offensively to score more points and win. I need to protect the ball better. I need to find a way to convert third downs and keep us on the field.”

Clearly, the problems are not all Manning’s fault.

He lost All-Pro tight end Dallas Clark with a season-ending wrist injury Oct. 17. Two-time 1,000-yard rusher Joseph Addai hasn’t played since Oct. 17 because of a nerve injury in his left shoulder. Receiver Austin Collie has played only three quarters in the last five games because of a thumb injury and a concussion, and blocking tight end Brody Eldridge has been limited to action in only two of the last four games with a rib injury.

But injuries aren’t the only concern.

The struggles have made one of the league’s elite quarterbacks look ordinary. On Sunday night, Manning threw four interceptions for the first time in his career and the first was a ball Manning later acknowledged he should not have tried to force between three Chargers defenders. Linebacker Kevin Burnett made an acrobatic catch and sprinted 29 yards for a touchdown.

Next question: Is Manning trying to do too much?

“It happens from time-to-time, I think that’s human nature,” Pro Bowl defensive end Dwight Freeney said. “I think everybody probably tries to make some plays because you’re looking for a spark. You know, it’s not going to be a perfect game all the time.”

But that’s not what people expect from the quarterback once dubbed Perfect Peyton.

Over his career, Manning has been the model of consistency. He’s the only quarterback to open his career with 203 consecutive starts. He’s been selected to 10 Pro Bowls, and he needs three more TD passes to extend his league record of consecutive 25-TD pass seasons to 13. Nobody else has more than five.

So what’s gone wrong lately? Almost everything.

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