Titans Players Reflect on Career of Peyton Manning



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NASHVILLE, Tenn. —Quarterback Peyton Manning played in 20 career games against the Titans dating back to his rookie season in 1998.

He went 14-6 in those games, but lost in his only playoff appearance against the Titans, during the 1999 season.

The former University of Tennessee star is retiring on Monday after 18 NFL seasons. Manning played his first 14 NFL seasons with the Indianapolis Colts before finishing his career with the Denver Broncos. He wrapped up his career with a win in Super Bowl 50.

Titans Online caught up with three Titans who competed against Manning to get their lasting memories of the five-time league MVP:

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TitansOnline.com looks back at Peyton Manning's battles with the Titans over the years. (AP Photos)

Safety Blaine Bishop**

(Went 1-0 against Manning in his career)

"He was remarkable. He is probably the smartest quarterback I have faced throughout my whole career, a precise, accurate passer. And he had some weapons. I competed against John Elway once in my career, and got to play against Steve Young one time, Joe Montana one time. So I got to play against some elite-level quarterbacks. Peyton will go down as one of the best, if not the best, of all time. He was the ultimate competitor, very smart and bright. He actually made me a better player in that throughout that playoff game against him (on Jan. 16, 2000), I changed what I was doing because he is so detailed. He was looking at my feet in that I was giving him a tip. He did that repeatedly to figure out what I was going to do. So then I changed it up. Usually if I am blitzing I kind of walk up to the outside, at least most the time I am blitzing. But every time I would do that, he would change the play. So in the second quarter I started walking up as if I was blitzing and I really had deep middle, and Marcus (Robertson) would be coming. So it kind if threw him for a loop because Marcus wasn't a big-time blitzer by any means but we changed what we were doing in the game because we wanted to give him something he hadn't seen. It was throwing him off, and I would wait until the play-clock was going down so he couldn't change the play. So in that game he made me a better player, and Jeff Fisher has always said that was one of the better games of my career. I had a couple of pass break-ups and probably should've had a couple of picks playing with a thumb cast. But Peyton made everybody around him better, whether you were on his team or competing against him."

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Linebacker Keith Bulluck**

(Went 5-11 against Manning in his career)

"He was the ultimate competitor, and his game prep was incredible. There weren't too many things defensively we would do that he hadn't seen. For a quarterback I played against so many times, it was hard to make the playoffs when you're always competing against him. He was so smart in that he took what the defense gave him. He knew his matchups and he would go to his matchups. He definitely made me a better player because of the simple fact you had to put so much preparation into playing the Colts, especially those days when they had (running back) Edgerrin James. I think those were some of the better Colts teams. But obviously Peyton evolved into the quarterback he is and that's why they were able to let E.J. go. … (I intercepted Manning) a few times, but they were amazing plays – I intercepted one at the line of scrimmage, and another one with one hand, and another one was like a tipped ball. I'm not bragging, but they were all Sports Center-type plays. But that's what I am saying – it is hard to make a play off of him, and you had to do something extraordinary to make a play against him. I always considered myself somewhat of a playmaker, and to get a play on Peyton and the Colts, it was tough. It was great competing against him. Peyton was never much of a talker. He's always been a worker, so it's one of those things where we maybe made eye contact out there, but it was nothing crazy. He handled his business, and I always had respect for him. I would probably have to put him up there at No.1 at the quarterback position, just because we were in the same division and he kept us from winning a lot of division championships. If you competed in the AFC South, you'd have to put him up there as No.1, to me at least."

Cornerback Jason McCourty

(went 0-5 against Manning)

"He was so impressive in everything he did. I remember watching him in pre-game, and at the time he was considered the best quarterback in the game. A lot of time you don't even see a quarterback come out and throw the ball in pre-game with his receivers, and I remember him coming out before the game and working with Reggie Wayne. They were working their butts off together in pre-game, going from one end of the field to the opposite end of the field working on all the different routes and throws they'd have to make. We used to realize it every time we played them because we had our own DB warmup where we'd be out in one of the end zones working on our own stuff and every time we played them it was kind of a battle over that field position in the end zone when they were doing their thing. But all of us as DBs saw them working hard before the game. I think for me, I think playing him my first few years in the league every year, twice a year, just the way he ran that offense was so impressive. My brother (Patriots defensive back Devin McCourty) and I have had many debates about who's better: Peyton Manning or Tom Brady. Obviously he gets to see Tom every day in practice, so he gets to see that greatness and gets to see what he does. For me, the preparation we always had to do during the week to get ready for Peyton Manning. All of the signals the coaching staff came up with over the years to be ready for him year in and year out, and how we kind of had to rig the defense. It was like Peyton Manning had his own week of preparation, where we were trying to do certain things. The film we had to watch, and listen to everybody talk about him. People have always had so much respect for him." 

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