Last year, Manning was sensational in helping Indianapolis defeat the Jets 30-17 in the AFC Championship Game. All told, Manning was 26-39 for 377 yards and three touchdowns. In 2006, Manning wasn't as flashy but efficient in orchestrating a 15-6 divisional round win over a Baltimore team where Ryan was defensive coordinator. The Jets head coach, in fact, has never beaten Manning in the playoffs.
There are lots of things not on Ryan's diet this year following his much publicized offseason lap band surgery, but Manning's performances against him is clearly tough for him to digest, eating the coach up.
"Peyton Manning has beaten me twice in the playoffs. It's well documented and you have all the stats," Ryan said. "This is about this year and I've waited a full year for this."
"Waited a full year"…and also schemed as long.
In fact, the entirety of the Jets offseason pointed back to last year's AFC Championship Game. Ryan made multiple moves to his secondary, including trading for corner back Antonio Cromartie, spending a first round pick on Kyle Wilson to add to the team's nickel package and signing Brodney Pool as a safety – all to corral the Colts passing game. The Jets anticipated meeting the Colts again in the playoffs and wanted to have the personnel in place to frustrate Manning under center.
"With Peyton Manning, I'm going to beat him; I don't know when, but I want it to be Saturday," Ryan said. "Is it personal? Yes. Is it personal against him."
Despite numerous injuries depleting the Colts this year, Manning still had a personal best of 4,700 passing yards and had the second highest touchdown tally of his career, finding pay dirt through the air 33 times.
While Manning has enjoyed success against Ryan and his vaunted defenses in the past, bettering the Jets coach in both of their postseason meetings, he has been rather ordinary at times in the playoffs. Other then the two wins over Ryan, Manning is just 7-9 in the playoffs and has seen six seasons where his team made an exit after playing just one game. In those games, a quarterback with 28 postseason touchdown passes has found the end zone just six times and been intercepted on four occasions. In two of those games, his completed pass percentage has been below 50%.
The Jets hope to make Saturday in Indianapolis the seventh time in Manning's career that he is one and done in the playoffs.
"It's a big challenge. Everybody knows how Peyton Manning is and the things he can do with the ball," cornerback Marquice Cole said. "So it's going to be a big challenge for us, but we're ready for it, hope to get some payback from last year."