Manning airs out on Colts' Mora

Ailing Ravens defense stands aside as QB aims attack on coach

`Let them deal with that'

Reply comes 3 days after getting `busted' for throwing 4 INTs

November 29, 2001|By Jamison Hensley | Jamison Hensley,SUN STAFF

While a banged-up Ravens defense continued to regroup, a disjointed Indianapolis Colts team stepped closer to the verge of chaos.

Seething in public like never before, Colts quarterback Peyton Manning attacked coach Jim Mora for his post-game remarks from Sunday.

Reveling in the dismay of his former team, Ravens tackle Tony Siragusa - the only regular starter expected to play on the defensive line Sunday - enjoyed giving his take on Indianapolis' family feud.

"I thought it was cowardly with how Jim Mora ripped his players," Siragusa said. "If he feels that strongly about Peyton Manning, maybe he shouldn't play him this week. Maybe he should bench him. When the guy is the core of your offense and is a major part of your organization and you rip him like that, I think that's totally - in Mora's words - diddly poo."

Though reiterating that he agreed with Mora's right to criticize any player, Manning was outspoken at his coach's betrayal in airing out the team's personal turmoil publicly after Sunday's 40-21 loss to San Francisco. In a condemning news conference that followed, Mora went off on his entire team for their "disgraceful" performance and repeatedly vented his disgust at Manning's four interceptions.

While Mora never mentioned Manning by name, the fourth-year quarterback acknowledged that he got the hint. In his conference call with Ravens media yesterday, Manning talked at length in explaining his side of the story.

"I am a player, and if the coach wants to correct me and yell at me, I have absolutely no problem with that," Manning said. "I can take it. I have thick skin. Everything he said in that press conference, he said the exact same thing right before that, and more or less busted my chops in front of the whole team. And I can handle that. That's not fun as a leader to be called out in front of your team, but that's the way it goes. And I have to be accountable.

"Now, to be called out in front of the whole country, where that press conference is going to be replayed over and over again for the whole country? But you know what? I can handle it because I am the player and he's the coach and that's the way it is. But if somebody asked me if that bothers me, you're damn right it bothers me.

"What went on in the locker room is our business. What bothers me is that what he said to us in that locker room has become the entire country's business. And I don't like that. But he's the head coach and he can say what he wants to say and I have to deal with it. I'm going about this by putting [myself] to work. Just to work and work and work and try to win. But did I like it? No. Not one, one bit."

When asked if he was surprised that Mora was seemingly talking directly to him in that post-game tirade, Manning revealed the level of strain in his relationship with Mora.

"Seem, I think, is an understatement," Manning said. "He was talking to me. There's no question about it. Although he never spoke with me directly. Nor will he, I don't imagine. I'm certainly accountable for my performance. [But] he has not spoken to me since any of that, and I doubt he will."

As Manning lashed out, Mora backtracked from his earlier remarks. "I haven't not talked to him for any particular reason," Mora said. "I mean, I don't feel any different toward Peyton. I love Peyton. I wouldn't trade Peyton for any quarterback in football. I'm glad he's our quarterback."

The Ravens, though, don't expect this war of words to fluster Manning, who has the most passing yards (14,996) and touchdowns (103) of any quarterback over the past four seasons.

"He's one of the best in the league and makes things happen for that offense," safety Rod Woodson said. "If they didn't have Peyton Manning, they wouldn't be close to winning a lot of football games."

But the knock lately has been that Manning is helping the opponents too much.

He has thrown 16 interceptions this season, which is one more than he had in either of the previous two seasons, when he led the Colts to the playoffs.

On Sunday, Manning was picked off a career-high four times as the 49ers scored 23 points off five Colts turnovers. According to the Ravens, Manning throws most of his interceptions when his pocket collapses.

That will be a challenge for the Ravens, who will likely be without ends Michael McCrary (knee) and Rob Burnett (calf) as well as tackle Sam Adams (knee). The Ravens will have to get pressure from the likes of Peter Boulware, Adalius Thomas and Shannon Taylor.

"The key to a guy like that is making him throw off-rhythm," said Boulware, who leads the Ravens with 7 1/2 sacks. "When he can get back there and set his feet and find his targets, he's hard to stop."

The Ravens' pass defense has to reverse its slide in the process. Ranked No. 1 in the NFL in pass defense after Week 3, it has plummeted to No. 14.

Over the past seven games, the Ravens have intercepted just one quarterback and have allowed 10 passing touchdowns. Quarterbacks have completed 63 percent of their passes during that span and have averaged 241 yards a game against the Ravens.

"We know that there's areas that we need to improve in," cornerback Chris McAlister said. "We're conscious of it, and we're trying to take care of that before next week."

So while the Colts bicker, the Ravens are quietly anxious about the test awaiting their defense.

"The last time I heard, him and his coach were going back and forth with words," middle linebacker Ray Lewis said. "Let them deal with that. We don't care about that. All we want to do is play them."

Baltimore Sun Articles
|
|
|
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.