Belichick: I will never underestimate Peyton Manning

Peyton Manning hasn't been himself this season.

Father Time has caught up to the Broncos passer, but Patriots coach Bill Belichick refuses to overlook Manning's gifts under center.

"Peyton's a great player. We've had tremendous battles against him through the years," Belichick said Wednesday. "There's no player off our team that I have any more respect for than Peyton Manning. So, you know, his preparation, his consistency, his skills, I would never ever, ever underestimate him under any circumstances."

When Chris Wesseling compiled his list of candidates for a Mt. Rushmore of Belichick opponents, Manning stood front center as a player the Patriots coach has draped with praise over the years.

"I mean, he's great, he's obviously a great quarterback," Belichick said last season. "The best quarterback I've coached against. Not to take anything away from the Montanas, Marinos and Elways or whoever is up there with those guys, but (Manning) is tough."

Patriots safety Devin McCourty isn't taking Manning lightly, either, saying that he still sees a dangerous pre-snap wizard instead of an age-addled passer.

"It's much of the same," McCourty said. "We know what he likes to do, you know, getting the offense out there, being able to survey the defense and look over everything and try to get them in the right place. Obviously this year he missed a couple games there, but even watching him last week against Pittsburgh, same thing."

The air-tight Pats won't say a negative word about Manning, but we'd love to be a fly on the wall in team meetings, where New England knows -- like anyone watching Broncos games -- that Peyton can be exposed through the air if the Patriots cover their bases.

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