CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- A short memory is a must if you're going to play cornerback in the NFL. But it's tough to forget bad plays when they come in the Super Bowl, and you have the entire offseason to dwell on them.
For the past four months, Carolina cornerback Ricky Manning has been in that situation, trying to forget about the mistakes he made in the Panthers 32-29 loss to the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl.
"That was my worst game of the postseason and not just because I got beat for a touchdown or a couple of passes, but because I just didn't make any big plays," Manning said. "I didn't have any interceptions and I had maybe a couple of tackles. I was barely on the board statistically. So it was a bad game."
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady had a huge game against the Panthers secondary, throwing for 352 yards and three touchdowns earning the game's MVP honors.
It was hardly all the secondary's fault, as Carolina's highly touted defensive line failed to get consistent pressure on Brady. However, cornerbacks often take the blame when a touchdown is scored.
Even though he made mistakes in the Super Bowl, the Panthers probably wouldn't have gotten that far without him.
In the divisional playoffs at St. Louis, it was Manning's interception of Marc Bulger in overtime that set up Jake Delhomme's 69-yard touchdown pass to Steve Smith on the first play of double overtime to lift the Panthers to a 29-23 victory.
The following week Manning tied an NFC championship game record with three interceptions against the Philadelphia Eagles, helping the Panthers reach the Super Bowl for the first time.
Manning admits his rookie year was pretty good all things considered, but said he will use the Super Bowl loss to the Patriots as a motivating force this offseason.
He's already marked the team's Aug. 28 preseason game against the Patriots on his calendar.
"I can't wait," he said. "Instead of being in Houston (site of the 2004 Super Bowl) where the ground is slippery, we will be in Foxboro where the ground is more stable. I hope I can get some get-back on their receivers. I want to show them that the last time was a fluke."
A third-round draft pick out of UCLA last year, Manning stepped into the starting lineup midway through last season when Terry Cousin injured his leg.
The 5-foot-9 Manning played big, and never surrendered the job. This year, he enters camp as Carolina's top cornerback while Dante Wesley, first-round draft pick Chris Gamble and veteran Artrell Hawkins battle for the other spot.
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