Sat, Sep 17, 2005 - Page 18 News List

Manning-Harrison combo turns into art

AP , INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA

Quarterback Peyton Manning of the Indianapolis Colts drops back to pass against linebacker Terrell Suggs of the Baltimore Ravens during the first quarter at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, Maryland, Sunday. Indianapolis beat Baltimore 24-7.

PHOTO: AFP

Marvin Harrison thinks back to those first growing pains with Peyton Manning -- the miscommunications, the errant passes, even the drops.

They've come a long way in eight NFL seasons.

Harrison and Manning are now the authors of the NFL's how-to manual on flawless play. They've worked overtime to sculpt that precision timing and uncanny ability to read each other's minds, and now the record-setting duo is about to be rewarded with a new title -- the league's greatest quarterback-to-receiver tandem.

"We went through the bumps and bruises that first year or two," Harrison said. "But we've developed a rapport where we can do things without speaking. Of the 83 touchdowns we've had, I can't tell you how many we've come up with on the fly."

The record-breaking game has become routine for Manning and Harrison.

In 2002, Harrison shattered the single-season mark for receptions by hauling in 143 passes. Last year, Manning threw an NFL record 49 touchdowns -- 15 to Harrison -- and the two combined to set a new mark for most completions by a tandem. They now have 708 completions, 45 more than the previous record set by Buffalo's Jim Kelly and Andre Reed.

Two more league records could fall for the perennial Pro Bowl pair on Sunday against Jacksonville.

The Colts combo needs 60 yards and three touchdown passes to become the all-time leaders in those categories, too. Kelly and Reed set the yardage mark (9,538), while San Francisco's Steve Young and Jerry Rice hold the TD record (85).

Manning hasn't forgotten how it all started.

"I remember that first touchdown pass in the preseason and that first one, in the opening game against Miami," he said. "It's a product of the work we've done, and we're not going to stop now."

To Harrison, it's never been about numbers, which explains his old-style celebration style.

But this touchdown mark is the rare exception because he would supplant Rice, a player he expressed deep admiration for when the two met at a game in Indianapolis last October. Rice retired this month after a 20-year career.

"He said `I appreciate what you are -- a great player and a class act,'" Harrison said. "I told him `You must be talking to a mirror' because that's what I think of him."

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