By Larry Fine
FLORHAM PARK, New Jersey (Reuters) - Coach Rex Ryan believes his New York Jets have a puncher's chance of knocking the NFL-best Indianapolis Colts and quarterback Peyton Manning out of the Super Bowl in Sunday's AFC Championship game.
Not just any puncher's chance, Ryan told reporters on Thursday after training his 11-7 wild card team for their clash against the 15-2 Colts in Indianapolis.
"We have a puncher's chance like George Foreman would have a puncher's chance," the Jets coach said about the former world heavyweight boxing champion with the sledgehammer right.
The Jets match their hard-hitting, top-ranked defense against an offense run by the game's preeminent passer in Manning for the right to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl.
"It's definitely been a different type of season with so many changes that we had," 12-year veteran Manning told reporters Thursday in a conference call."
Manning said bringing along young receivers Pierre Garcon and rookie Austin Collie, and first-year running back Donald Brown was a challenge that kept things fresh for him.
"It does kind of keep you into every single practice, every single meeting, because it's not a 10-year veteran you're playing with -- it's a guy that doesn't know this offense and keeps you involved in going over the small details.
"It's been refreshing for me in many ways as well."
Manning, MVP of the Colts' Super Bowl victory in the 2006 campaign, threw 33 touchdown passes this season and 16 interceptions, connecting with Collie on seven TD tosses, and hitting Garcon for four scores.
Colts coach Caldwell said 10-times Pro Bowler Manning was a great role model for the young players.
"He embodies things that are very important to successful
play in every single aspect," Caldwell told reporters. "A guy that loves the game, has great respect for the game, handles himself in a way that is exemplary.
"He makes it very easy for us to tell the young guys if you want to understand how to function, work, prepare and play you can watch this guy."
Ryan said he held Manning in the highest regard, but said his team was loose, confident and expected to win.
"I've got a ton of respect for the guy. The guy is an amazing quarterback. He's smart, he's accurate, he's got all the skill.
"He's a great quarterback and a great personality. But getting ready to play him, I don't like him right now. This week I really don't like Peyton Manning."
(Editing by Alison Wildey)