The interception that cost Indianapolis a shot at beating New England was his and his alone.
"It's just accurate," Manning said succinctly. "I do do that, you know, make mistakes."
It's true, Manning makes his share, hard as it might seem when talking about the only four-time MVP in NFL history and a guy who was once dubbed Perfect Peyton.
Living through three days like this is rare for Manning.
Over all those hours, the play has been replayed countless times in Indianapolis, and fans continually see the same thing: A Patriots pass rusher forcing Manning to alter his throwing motion and the ball floating in between Pierre Garcon in the end zone and Jacob Tamme at about the Patriots' 8-yard line. New England's James Sanders made the acrobatic interception to preserve a 31-28 victory.
The biggest question in Indy this week has been: Was it really Manning's fault or was he talking the fall for somebody else?
Manning hasn't changed his stance, though teammates clearly have a different opinion about what happened.
"It's definitely one of those deals that happens and everybody on the field could have done something better," Tamme said Wednesday. "I think you look at yourself first, and that's what everybody on this team does."
And it has made Manning a little edgy.
During a conference call with San Diego reporters Wednesday, Manning challenged one who asked about his 1-4 record against the Chargers since 2004. When the reporter was corrected by Manning about the mark being 2-4, the quarterback responded: "It's a preparation thing, right? Get your stats correct before you come with this question."
"It was inaccurate," Manning said, referring to the question. "I don't know how else to tell you."
An angry Manning isn't something any team wants to see.
And with Sunday night's showdown against San Diego looming, and the chase for the AFC South title moving into high gear, this isn't what the Chargers need.
So Manning wants to make amends.
"This game is more like last week's in that we understand we have to play well on offense and score some points because their offense is excellent and you do have to score some points," he said.
And that's not always been easy in this contest.
Yes, Manning got the first of his 137 career victories against the Chargers in 1998. Yet he has won just three of the seven meetings since then and lost both playoff games between the teams, following the 2007 and 2008 seasons.
Manning also had some of the worst days of his career against San Diego.
Back in 2005, it was the Chargers who derailed Indy's perfect season with a 26-17 victory at the RCA Dome in Week 15. Manning was picked off twice that day.
"We've had some big games, some playoff games, some playoff-type games with them," Tamme said. "And this is another one of those."
The difference could be Manning, who has thrown only one interception in four home games this season -- all wins.
But he will be short-handed yet again this week.
Tight end Dallas Clark and former first-round draft pick Anthony Gonzalez are both on season-ending injured reserve, and receiver Austin Collie already has been ruled out this week after he left the New England game with concussion-like symptoms in the first quarter. Collie had missed the previous week after sustaining a concussion after a frightening hit Nov. 7 at Philadelphia.
Manning also could be missing running back Joseph Addai, who hasn't played since Oct. 17 because of a nerve injury in his left shoulder. Addai is scheduled to return to practice this week, although he said Monday that he still had trouble carrying the ball and protecting himself.
All those injuries have put a greater burden on Manning, who is having another Pro Bowl-type season. He already has thrown for 3,059 yards and 20 TDs and completed more than 65 percent of his passes.
The one flaw, of course, was Sunday's interception -- the one Manning wants to forget.
"It will be a tough challenge," Manning said. "Certainly, I need to play better than last week. But I do think in order to beat them, it has to be a true team win. Everybody has to do their part."
Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press