Lost in the media-embellished balderdash leading up to Peyton Manning's return to Indianapolis two weeks ago was the quarterback's guarantee that Colts pass rusher Robert Mathis "hits a heck of a lot harder than Eli does."
Mathis told NFL Media's Andrew Siciliano on Thursday's edition of NFL Network's "Around the League Live" that he had no choice but to light up his former teammate.
"It's no big secret that I'm a QB hater," Mathis said. "(Manning is) a good friend of mine off the field. Between the lines, it's kill or be killed. I hate to put it like that, but he's a competitor. He's going to light up a scoreboard. You just have to make him uncomfortable as much as possible."
Although NFL Media's Kurt Warner and Marshall Faulk opined on NFL Network's "Gameday Final" that Manning's waning arm strength dropped several more levels after the sack, Mathis didn't notice a difference.
"Could have fooled me," Mathis explained, "because he put points up, and he put them up in a hurry, so I didn't see it that way. He's a competitor, and if he did, he hid it well."
It will be interesting to see if the NFL's sack leader and the unofficial midseason MVP meet again in the AFC playoffs later this season.