They had to beat Peyton Manning out of their lives even if it meant beating him up on the field.
Eleven years is a lifetime in the NFL. Eleven years tells you things about another man that nobody else can know. And so those 11 years they dressed and showered as Colts taught Indianapolis pass rusher Robert Mathis one very important thing about Peyton Manning.
"No quarterback likes to be hit," he told Yahoo Sports early Monday morning after the Colts' 39-33 victory over Manning's Broncos. "Especially him."
In the house that Peyton Manning built, the Indianapolis Colts came after the face that made this franchise. They thundered through the Broncos line, lunging, jumping, grabbing – anything to get their hands on a piece of the player who made this a football town. They tackled him. They batted his passes. They knocked him to the ground.
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Their blows left red marks on Manning's face, even if he wouldn't show them how much it hurt. He waited until stepping off the field and into the tunnel beneath the stands before allowing a wince to slide across his face. He limped slightly on the blue rubber surface that led from the field to the strange visitor's locker room he recently admitted to not knowing. He looked weary, surprised, defeated.