Does Peyton Manning own Rex Ryan?

If previous history has anything to say, it’s Rex Ryan that should have a sleepless Saturday night leading up the AFC Championship Game, not Peyton Manning. Because for all intents and purposes, Manning has owned Ryan over the past five years.

2005 was the first year Manning faced a Ryan-led defense, which he promptly shredded for 254 yards and two touchdowns in a 24-7 Colts’ victory. He completed 21-of-36 pass attempts against the Ravens that day, and didn’t throw a single interception.

In the 2006 playoffs, Manning struggled while completing 15-of-30 pass attempts for 170 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions. But his Colts still prevailed, beating the Ravens 15-6 to eventually advance to the Super Bowl.

Manning would beat Ryan’s Ravens two more times in 2007 and 2008, combining to throw for 520 yards with seven touchdowns and no interceptions. Indy beat Baltimore 44-20 in 2007 and 31-3 in 2008 to give Manning a 4-0 record against Ryan-led defenses.

Manning suffered his first defeat to Ryan this year when the Colts lost 29-15 to the Jets in Week 16. However, he did complete 14-of-21 passes for 192 yards and no interceptions before being pulled early in the second half by head coach Jim Caldwell.

What does all this mean for this weekend? I don’t think we can draw any definitive conclusions as to what will happen on Sunday based on previous results, but it is noteworthy that Manning has had a fair amount of success against Ryan over the years. And had he not been pulled early in Week 16, he could have added to those numbers with the way the Colts were moving the ball at will against the Jets in the first half. It wasn’t until Brad Smith returned the second half kickoff back for a touchdown that the Jets had any life.

Ryan is a master game-planner and always has his team prepared. So there’s no doubt that the Colts will get the Jets’ best effort on Sunday. But if Manning does know Ryan’s defense as much as the numbers suggest he does, then Indy will be heading to Miami because New York’s offense is too one-dimensional to win a shootout.


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