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Memory lane: How we beat Peyton Manning in 2002

I remember very well the Sunday night game we played against the Colts in 2002. The Colts entered the game as the clear favorite with Peyton Manning at quarterback, Edgerrin James at running back, and Marvin Harrison at wide receiver. They were stacked on offense, but we knew that if we killed the head, the body would die. And Manning was that head.

All week, people talked about how good Manning was at reading defenses, and that he never called plays until he surveyed the defense at the line of scrimmage. All week, we knew that in order to have a chance, we had to be disciplined with our presnap alignments and movements. One mistake would cost the entire defense, because Manning most likely would see it and would capitalize on it.

So the game begins, and all I can think about is trying to destroy anything moving, especially Manning. From the first snap, I realized real quickly that Manning talked to his offensive line more than I had ever heard. He pointed me out every play: "56, there's 56." Then he would say some other stuff like "There's the robber; there's the robber." Then he would walk from under center and start his cadence.

When he lifted his foot the first time, they never snapped the ball. He was still studying the defense, and if we moved or he felt a blitz coming, he would run back up to the center and tell the offensive line where he thought the blitz was coming from and then he would change the play. Then we knew when he lifted his foot the second time, the ball would be snapped.

Coaches said all week this is what he would do and he's really good at it, so when we moved around, we had to make sure we were disguising what we were really doing. In a true game of cat and mouse, we wanted to make sure we were the cats on this night.

Manning threw for more than 200 yards that night, a solid game statistically, but he wasn't able to overcome the constant pressure he received from No. 56. I must have hit Manning six or seven times hard -- I mean, really hard. I sacked him twice and almost picked him off.

Jessie Armstead, one of the most intelligent football players I've ever played with, was barking out what Manning and Co. were trying to do. Thanks to J.A. and my football sense, I was able to get a fix on when he would snap the ball, and the rest is history. We forced him to make mistakes; he threw two interceptions, and there should've been more.

Jeremiah Trotter, Armstead, and I were the linebackers and the on-field leaders of that team. We moved around and shifted and faked blitzes close to perfection. We kept Manning off balance the whole night because we were able to disguise where we were rushing from.

We rattled him really good that night. I remember how pumped up we were. The Redskins won, 26-21, and believe me, the score doesn't do justice to the tail-kicking we laid on them that night.

By LaVar Arrington  | October 13, 2010; 10:47 AM ET
 
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Comments

Its clear how you beat the colts, they have 1 football god among 52 other above average to average players. Sack the god, and you can win.

For all the talk of how brilliant the Colts are I really think that they would be a 5-9 team with out Manning, and for all their success they only won 1 superbowl. What I am trying to say is, they have been a cheap franchise with a great QB. They should of could of, and if they had gone out and grabbed a few free agent playmakers from time to time they probably would have had a dynasty.

By the way, the 2002 redskins Defense may have been the best this team put on the field in this millennium.

Posted by: alex35332 | October 13, 2010 11:17 AM | Report abuse

man lavar, you HAVE TO DO MORE OF THIS ... talk about the game, as you PLAYED it, not saw it. Do this more on your radio show also, let's hear the stories man, let's hear about the on field stuff. Awesome write up. You should give us this kind of insight on all our opponents you faced. HTTR.

Posted by: gortiz1 | October 13, 2010 2:33 PM | Report abuse

Good stuff Lavar. Hopefully you've mentioned this to skins staff.

Posted by: keedrow | October 13, 2010 4:12 PM | Report abuse

I remember a time when sports reporters used to write about the current team and opponent. My advice would be to save the trips down memory lane for the tell all book and give us your insights into the Peyton Manning of today - not the one from 2002.

Here's an idea LaVar - your next article could be a compare and contrast piece on your observations of changes in Peyton's playing style/team since 2002 and how the Skins D might be able to exploit those changes. Your blog shouldn't be about how awesome you felt you played against Peyton in 2002.

I would imagine that you already have enough people around you saying how great of a player you used to be so stop trying to lobby the fan base and focus on current events.

Posted by: pjsharpe19 | October 13, 2010 4:29 PM | Report abuse

pj-not-so-sharpe,
If you can't figure out that Peyton from 2010 still is the best at changing plays at the line of scrimmage then you don't know anything. This post is clearly applicable to what the skins need to do to be successful this week. If you just want dry analysis go read one of the other 8 beat reporters the post has covering the skins who have who never had the pleasure of hitting Peyton. Not to mention the fact that Lavar gives the great analysis of the current team in his keys to the game (which Lavar still wrote). Stop your hating and do read the post if you don't want to hear about his playing days. The title was "Memory lane: How we beat Peyton Manning in 2002" what did you expect.

LA this was an awesome post. Keep it up.

Posted by: tsaxsteve | October 13, 2010 5:06 PM | Report abuse

Good job Lavar. This is what I'm talkin about, focus on the D. Thx, stay positive.

Posted by: robzombie | October 13, 2010 5:10 PM | Report abuse

So if you can get constant pressure on the QB, you can win the game?

Got it.

Posted by: Scoonie97 | October 13, 2010 5:31 PM | Report abuse

pjsharpe19-Got any cheese with that whine?


Thank you for your interesting posts, LaVar

HTTR

Posted by: supattapone | October 13, 2010 7:06 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, you're talking about the Dolts! The Colts got left in Baltimore by the moving van!

Posted by: fr3dmars | October 13, 2010 8:04 PM | Report abuse

Lavar, I love reading your stuff. Keep it up!

Posted by: ericenderle | October 13, 2010 10:20 PM | Report abuse

I was always a big fan of yours when you were with the Skins, and your biggest defender when the Arrington bashers that I know started to talk about you. I would read on your column if you were not still dead to me for calling Joe Gibbs a coward in November 2008. I never set foot in your later failed restaurant after that either. Still no apology to Coach Joe?

Posted by: JosephHangarter | October 14, 2010 10:32 AM | Report abuse

My favorite post of yours yet, more of these would be awesome. PJ can go fox himself

Posted by: trousers | October 14, 2010 12:47 PM | Report abuse

Well...seems like both sides have weighed in on this one. Despite the junior high level zingers from the LaVar fan club I would say PJ's points were well written. The dude doesn't strike me as a hater. I don't want to read an article written partially in the third person about events with no little or relevance to today either. What’s wrong with a little constructive feedback folks?

I wonder what Peyton's alternative titles would be? How about "ancient history” or “where are they now?" Let's keep things positive and focused on this years team and players.

GO 2010 SKINS!

Posted by: biffandchet | October 14, 2010 1:36 PM | Report abuse

Joseph, I'm sure Joe Gibbs is doing fine and is not in need of a stranger trying to defend him in something that doesn't matter to anyone but the craziest of us. As much as I respect Joe Gibbs for what he's done for the Redskins, Lavar need not apologize for anything. Get over it and move on. Gibbs has.

Posted by: Rahwaj | October 14, 2010 3:03 PM | Report abuse

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