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Colts look to protect Manning better

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Colts look to protect Manning better

By MICHAEL MAROT, AP Sports Writer

INDIANAPOLIS - Colts left tackle Tarik Glenn showed up early this week to watch the grim footage of the team's first loss.

In Glenn's opinion, the videotape could double as a horror movie.

Two-time MVP Peyton Manning was constantly picking himself off the ground after being dragged down from behind or clobbered as he threw. It was a rarity for the Colts' offensive line, which usually protects Manning like he's in a presidential motorcade.

Colts president Bill Polian said during his radio show this week that Manning had swelling in his knee, but probably could play through it.

``We always want to protect the quarterback, and when you see what happened, that can't happen,'' Glenn said. ``We're all taking accountability for that.''

Glenn has been the heart of the offensive line for nearly a decade. He's the only lineman left from the pre-Manning days, and at 6-foot-5, 332 pounds, remains the man protecting Manning's blindside.

In nine NFL seasons, Glenn has seen virtually every conceivable blitz, stunt and move and has still managed to be a consistent left tackle. He's missed only six games and made his first Pro Bowl appearance last year.

But, in his seven years with the Colts, Glenn has rarely seen the offensive line overwhelmed like it was in Sunday's 26-17 loss to San Diego. The Chargers finished with four sacks and forced Manning into a critical intentional grounding penalty late - a play that pushed the Colts out of field-goal range. On the next play, Luis Castillo sacked Manning and the Colts never got a chance to try a potentially game-winning field goal.

Manning was not merely harassed. He went down in awkward positions several times - shots that made Tony Dungy cringe when he watched them live and on tape - although the Colts coach said Monday he never considered pulling Manning simply to keep him healthy.

It is, however, an issue that will help Dungy decide how much to play Manning and other starters these next two weeks. After all, the team has wrapped up home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs.

``Obviously, that's something you think about,'' Dungy said. ``Ryan (Diem) got hurt, Marvin (Harrison) got hurt, Larry Tripplett has an ankle sprain. Then I watched the 4 o'clock games and you see a couple of guys from Dallas taken off. It does go you through your mind as you plan, but you've got to stick with the plan.''

Clearly, the Colts' line had trouble executing its game plan Sunday. The Chargers' four sacks are a quarter of what Indy has allowed all season.

And while there were explanations, the linemen weren't about to make excuses.

Diem, the starting right tackle, went down in the first quarter with a sprained ligament in his left knee and did not return. The Colts adjusted by moving right guard Jake Scott to tackle and inserting rookie Dylan Gandy, who had been primarily a special teams performer before Sunday, at right guard.

But the Colts have been through tougher adjustments before and produced better results. So Glenn and the other offensive linemen blamed themselves for the problems.

``This week was terrible,'' Scott said. ``We made mental mistakes we don't usually make and physical mistakes we don't usually make, too. We have to correct those.''

Especially since this lineup - Glenn, Ryan Lilja, Jeff Saturday, Gandy and Scott - are likely to see the bulk of the action over the final two weeks.

Dungy would not say how long Diem would be out.

Whatever happens, though, the line knows it must play better Saturday at Seattle, which leads the NFL with 45 sacks and can wrap up home-field advantage in the NFC with a win - or risk watching a sequel at next week's film session.

``When you're winning games, you're a marker because these guys are coming,'' Glenn said. ``Everyone wants to get our quarterback because they know he's the key to our offense, so there has to be a sense of urgency to get this corrected.''

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press.

Edited by TalonRider

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