Originally posted on Fox Sports Southwest  |  Last updated 9/21/12
HOUSTON Wade Phillips took a preemptive strike at the "Peyton Manning is finished" angle Thursday. "I know it's going to be asked so I'm going to go ahead and make my statement," the Houston Texans defensive coordinator said. "Peyton Manning looks like the same guy he's always been." No sense poking the bear, even if it does have a neck injury. But this, of course, is the big question as the Texans (2-0) prepare for their game against the Denver Broncos (1-1) Sunday in Denver. Manning missed all of last season with a neck injury, signed with the Broncos and looked terrific in his debut game, going 19-for-26 for 253 yards and two touchdowns in a win over the Pittsburgh Steelers. Then came Week 2 in Atlanta, and Manning looked very much like a 36-year-old man with a neck injury, throwing three interceptions in the first quarter and showing no ability to push the ball down the field as he always had in what will be a Hall of Fame career. Maybe this makes Phillips and the Texans' defense, which has allowed an NFL-best 196 yards per game over two weeks, feel more confident than ever. And maybe that's the case if this were practically any other quarterback facing any other team. But this is Manning, and for all of the Texans' existence he has been like a sadistic surgeon, carving them up, removing their heart, and poking their liver for good measure. "I remember rookie year, we were really preparing for his signals and trying to get down any things he says at the line or checks or whatever," linebacker Brian Cushing said. "We were trying to kind of script everything he was saying. Eventually, we went into the game and he didn't say a word. That's just kind of the guy he is." That was 2009, and the Texans' defense has come a long way since then. It ranked second in the NFL last year, and has allowed an average of just 124 passing yards in its first two games. So it is not the same old Manning, nor is it the same old Texans defense. "This is this year's team," Phillips said. "They said a lot of things about last year's team during last year, 'You never won a championship and you've never won a playoff game,' and all those things. You make things happen for yourself. This is a big, big game for our football team." So far as Las Vegas is concerned, the Texans became a slight favorite (-1.5) after Manning's performance against the Falcons, but this is the first real test for a team that spent the first two weeks clobbering maybe the NFL's two least-effective starting quarterbacks in Dolphins rookie Ryan Tannehill and the Jaguars' Blaine Gabbert. Even if Manning has lost a little of his arm, he still presents the biggest challenge Houston has faced yet. "They made almost 400 yards last week against a pretty good defense at home," Phillips said. "I think once he got adjusted after the first quarter he played like Peyton Manning so I don't see a whole lot of difference."
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

CC Sabathia declares himself ‘ready to go’ after alcohol rehab

Report: Suns still want to deal Morris before trade deadline

Report: Celtics could offer best deal for Dwight Howard

Hawks 'taking phone calls about everybody on the roster'

Philly mayor calls LeSean McCoy ‘cowardly'

Report: Price might not return this season due to knee injury


Matt Forte confirms he won’t be returning to Bears

Cardinals GM: ‘No doubt’ team wants Mathieu as fixture

Charles Barkley on Stephen Curry: ‘He’s just a great shooter’

Louisiana governor warns that LSU football could be cut

Report: People with Warriors think they will get Durant

Joe Thomas: It’s a ‘sad end’ to Manziel story in Cleveland

Steven Stamkos unforthcoming on his no-move clause

Antonio Cromartie's wife is 'definitely' getting her tubes tied

Ciara: It’s getting harder to stay abstinent with Russell Wilson

The top five millennial NBA All-Star moments

Cam Newton sends message with ‘I win my way’ shirt

26% of Denver students skipped school for Broncos parade

Eight surprises, letdowns entering NBA All-Star break

Chris Harris: Von Miller should get paid more than JJ Watt

4 likeliest Dwight Howard trade scenarios

On Kobe Bryant and taking greatness for granted

Penn State the latest to offer generic football jerseys for sale

Gary Bettman praises the NHL’s new website and app (which are currently awful)

Bucks need to choose between wins, development

NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

On Kobe Bryant and taking greatness for granted

Bucks need to choose between wins, development

Fantasy booking WrestleMania 32

Unrestricted free agents each team must consider re-signing

QUIZ: Name the winners of the NBA Slam Dunk Contest

Thank you Daniel Bryan

The timeless greatness of Jaromir Jagr

The NCAAB power rankings

Report: Kings to keep coach George Karl

Was Alain Vigneault right about NHL's lack of punishment towards Wayne Simmonds?

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Follow Yardbarker