Manning

Tuesday, November 23, 2004 at 12:00am

The season Colts quarterback Peyton Manning is having defies description.

Manning already has 35 touchdown passes, just 13 short of Dan Marino's NFL record of 48. With six games remaining, Manning needs to average a little more than two TD tosses per game to eclipse the mark.

Said Colts coach Tony Dungy, "It doesn't surprise me, to see what Peyton's accomplished this year. All you have to do is look at all the work he puts in. He watches a lot of video, he spends a lot of time on the practice field before and after practice, he always asking a lot of questions. He is always prepared when he takes the field for a game. Nothing comes as a surprise to him.

"He's been fun to watch. He's been using all of his weapons. Instead of trying to force the ball someplace, he's being patient and letting what the defense does dictate where he's going to go with the ball. He understands that anybody can make a play. That whoever gets single coverage, that's where the ball is going generally. We've got a lot of guys who can catch the ball and that's what you have to have. We've got guys who can make the bad shoulder catch, who can catch in traffic. He's been real impressive."

Asked if he thinks about breaking Marino's record, Manning said, "I guess if I had 47 going into the (Jan. 2) game at Denver, I'd start thinking about it. I'm sure it would be hard to say it wouldn't cross my mind at that point. Thirty-one is the second-most that I've ever had. I could not throw another one from here on out and it would be hard to say it wasn't a pretty fair year."

Heading to Miami

Seattle Seahawks running back Shaun Alexander is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent after the season, and Alexander made it no secret last week that he would consider playing for the Dolphins.

The comments came on a conference call with the Miami media in the days prior to the Seahawks' game this past Sunday against the Dolphins.

Said Alexander, "We all know about coach [Don] Shula and the legacy he had there, and we know about the great town for football that's in Miami. My first NFL game was in Miami (a 23-0 Dolphins win in the 2000 season opener).

"I thought, 'Wow, if every team is like Miami, then it's going to be a rough year for us.' And it was a rough year for us because we were bad. Miami's always got this special feel for me because it was my first NFL game I got to play in."

Warner done

Giants quarterback Kurt Warner knows the switch to Eli Manning is final, unless there is an injury.

"I don't anticipate playing much from now on," Warner said, "assuming there is no unexpected development. Yes, I knew why I was here and I knew the Giants' future was going to be with Eli, but I thought I'd get this season and it just didn't work out that way. But I understand the bigger picture. This was not a slap on the wrist for not playing well. This was going to happen one time or another no matter what."

Said coach Tom Coughlin, "They were neck and neck all summer. The decision to go with Kurt wasn't made until after the final pre-season game, and it was very close. Also, it was based strictly on evidence on the field. Kurt's experience and past body of work didn't factor, and neither did Eli's high draft status."

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