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Dueling quarterbacks to get reacquainted in Hoosier state

Discussion in 'San Diego Chargers Hall of Champions' started by robdog, Dec 18, 2005.

  1. robdog

    robdog Code Monkey Staff Member Administrator

    Jun 29, 2009
    Source: <a href="http://www.nctimes.com/articles/2005/12/18/sports/professional/chargers/23_02_4012_17_05.txt" target="_blank">North County Times</a>

    By Jay Paris

    INDIANAPOLIS ---- They'll arrive from various parts of this frozen Midwestern state, paying respect to their undefeated Indianapolis Colts while tipping their earmuffs in Chargers quarterback Drew Brees' direction.

    Many fans will wear Brees' old Purdue jersey, the one inscribed with his No. 15 instead of his Chargers' No. 9. Some will brag about watching Brees' way back when, when the Boilermakers actually won.

    Then today's game between the desperate Chargers and the dominating Colts will start.

    "And they will all root for the Colts," Brees said with a laugh.

    But wouldn't it be funny if the kid who played college ball in West Lafayette, Ind., was the one to knock the crown off quarterback Peyton Manning and his undefeated Colts? If so, Manning won't need a glum postgame handshake to be introduced to Brees.

    The quarterbacks began a friendship when both were the apple of Indiana's football eye. The connection was Miami Dolphins center Seth McKinney, who was Brees' left tackle at Westlake High in Austin, Texas. McKinney's older brother, Steve, was the Colts' center when Brees was at Purdue.

    "I knew their family, obviously, so I would go to the Colts games," Brees said. "I would go down to the locker room and see Steve and Peyton, and that was cool. I went to a Monday night game my senior year and watched them beat Jacksonville, and Peyton threw for 440 yards and set the (then) Colts' record for most passing yards in a game."

    So when Brees rebounded late in a game to beat Ohio State during that senior year in 2000, Manning passed along congratulations.

    "I did something really stupid, I threw a pick and they ran it back to the 2-yard line and they scored," said Brees, the pain of the memory evident on his face. "Then we got it back and I threw like for a 70-yard touchdown and we came back to win. I screwed up, but we were able to come back and win."

    The result was locker-room hugs and a ringing telephone.

    "Peyton called me and said, 'That is the way to do it when you are faced with adversity. Just bounce back, and you had a chance to win at the end and you made it happen. It was fun to watch.' He just gave me words of encouragement.

    "That meant a lot for me being a college kid and to have Peyton Manning calling me on the phone telling me 'good job.' I said, 'Shoot, this is great.' "

    Manning's words still stand.

    The Chargers must rebound after Sunday's dunking by the Dolphins, a devastating loss that delivered a haymaker to their playoff aspirations. They essentially need to win out ---- against the Colts, at the Kansas City Chiefs and home against the Denver Broncos ---- while getting help from others.

    So the Chargers face yet another virtual must-win situation, the result of a slow break from the gate.

    "We started off so slow," Brees said. "At one point we were sitting at 3-4, and we won five in a row to put us at 8-4, and the one last week kind of got away from us. But we still feel like we're in control of our own destiny, and we're just going to have to take it one at a time these last three. They're definitely must-wins in our mind, if we want to control our own destiny they are."

    Brees overlooks the fact that the Chargers need the Pittsburgh Steelers and Jacksonville Jaguars ---- two teams above them ---- to stumble to secure a wild-card berth. But Brees is rightly focused on the Herculean task of sweeping three of the best teams in the NFL.

    It's rare that Brees isn't zeroed in. He's a self-proclaimed worrywart leading up to games, and he's primed for anything a stingy Colts defense will present.

    Of course, once Brees' preparation is tight, he tries to loosen up.

    "As a quarterback, you have so much responsibility as it is, you don't try to put any more pressure on yourself," said Brees, who has thrown 22 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. "You just understand it. I think to simplify it for myself, I just go out and tell myself to do my job. Do my job, and that's a lot of things.

    "But the more prepared I am ---- I have a routine that I go through throughout the week to prepare myself ---- by the time Sunday comes around, I feel as confident as ever. I just feel like I can go out and we can go out as an offense and do anything we want."

    What the Chargers want and need are the same: handing the Colts their first loss while not losing their chance for consecutive playoff berths for the first time since 1994-95.

    On a number of fronts, that's a tall task for Brees and Co.

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