Peyton Manning: The Ultimate Paper Champion
Saturday’s loss against Baltimore did not affect Quarterback Peyton Manning’s overall position among the greatest quarterbacks of all-time and certainly did not change his Hall of Fame status. The four-time league MVP has thrown for 59,487 passing yards with 436 touchdowns, made 12 Pro Bowl teams and 12 playoff appearances.
But once again Manning and his team made an earlier than expected exit in the playoffs.
Unfortunately for Manning, this has become somewhat of a trend. While playing for Indianapolis, Peyton took the Colts to the playoffs nine years in a row from 2002-2010. During that span, the Colts went 9-8 in the playoffs and won just one lone Super Bowl title in 2006.
For most franchises, the word lone would probably not describe their one championship, but when Peyton Manning is your Quarterback, the expectations are exceedingly higher. Manning set those expectations during the regular season; his record in the regular season from 2002-2010 as the Colts starting quarterback: 109-35, a whopping .757 win percentage. But again in the playoffs, it drops to just over .500 during that span.
In the past, fans always seemed to have an excuse for the Colts’ failure in the playoffs. The defense was never good enough or the lack of a running game placed too much pressure on the All-Pro QB. In some cases that may be true. Obviously, fans saw what the Colts were like without Manning under center last year when they barely won two games.
Denver though seemingly had everything Manning would need to make a deep playoff run: a top notch defense that gives up few yards through the air or on the ground, a healthy pass rush and maybe the best shutdown corner of a generation. Even without Running Back Willis McGhee, the combination of Knowshon Moreno, Ronnie Hillman and Jacob Hester in the backfield would generate a championship caliber running game.
Nope. Not against a very hungry Baltimore Ravens team that led the game just once midway through the first quarter. In one of the greatest games of recent memory, it was Quarterback Joe Flacco who shined bringing the Ravens back to score a touchdown with less than a minute in regulation, and Manning throwing a costly interception at the end of the first overtime.
His second interception of the game, Manning was flushed out of the pocket to his right, but elected to throw back across his body, a cardinal sin for quarterbacks. The turnover led to Baltimore’s winning field goal.
One of sports’ oldest clichés will tell you one play, decision or player does not win or lose a game all by itself. Nevertheless, it is still worth noting that Manning threw two interceptions and lost another fumble. The loss drops his overall playoff record to 9-11 and further proves that Peyton Manning always does better on paper.