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Peyton Manning: Zach Thomas caused the most problems for me of any player I ever faced

Manning lost seven of his first nine matchups against the Dolphins.

Dolphins v Colts Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Quarterback Payton Manning finished his career with 539 touchdowns, 71,940 yards, and a record of 186-79. Manning was one of the NFL’s most dominant players and had a losing record against just two teams he faced more than five times.

Manning struggled against the New England Patriots, closing his career with a record of 6-13 against Bill Belichick and company. Next on the list is the Miami Dolphins, who are 7-6 all-time against Manning.

Looking closer, Manning was 2-7 against the Dolphins before winning his final four games against the franchise. When discussing his career in 2020, Manning described his struggles against Miami with just one name — Zach Thomas.

“The most unnerving thing about playing Miami is Zach Thomas calling out all of your plays,” Manning said. “He caused the most problems for me of any player I ever faced.”

Thomas and the Dolphins defeated the Colts twice in 1998. In those two games, Thomas combined for 19 total tackles, a forced fumble, and a pass defended. Manning would win two of the next three matchups but then fell three-straight times.

Thomas picked Manning off on Nov. 11, 2001, and finished his career with four interceptions for touchdowns — the most in team history.

After years of players speaking up, Thomas earned his flowers by being elected to the Hall of Fame in 2023.

“Put his stats up with mine, Ray [Lewis] any other linebacker who’s even close to the Hall of Fame or been in the Hall of Fame. He’s right there with us, if not better in every category,” former Chicago Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher said.

The Hall of Fame Class of 2023 will be enshrined on Saturday, Aug. 6 in Canton, Ohio.