Same old Peyton Manning in the playoffs. He had his typical playoff game, and in typical fashion, his team lost a gut punch game in its opening playoff game as a favorite. Now, he is a choker, a fraud, and a bum.
You see, Manning did have a typical game in the playoffs. For other quarterbacks, that typical game would be good enough to win more often than not in the postseason. For Manning, for whatever reason, it means almost certain doom.
Manning threw a bad interception near the end of the first overtime, with Denver moving near midfield. It was the kind of interception, despite his cursory playoff reputation by those that just cite QB records, that has rarely happened. That one and the Tracy Porter interception stand out in your mind, probably because you can’t remember other key late interceptions in all those close losses. Blame him for that throw and the role it played once they got to overtime.
It’s revisionist history, though, to say that John Fox was justified due to Manning’s subpar play in going conservative at the end of each half with timeouts in his pocket, and on a 3rd and 7 with a chance to win it outright with the ball in Manning’s hand. Prior to that throw, Peyton Manning was having a pretty good playoff game, the type of game that would be good enough to win most of the time. Good enough, except for what his counterpart was doing throwing deep balls at will. Joe Flacco is in the midst of one of the great playoff passing stretches in NFL history. In fact, probably since Peyton Manning against Denver and Kansas City in January of 2004. That stretch brought Champ Bailey to Denver via trade in an effort to compete with Peyton Manning; yesterday may have closed that chapter.
We can look back at the playoffs since 2000, and see the play by play breakdown and assign responsibility for facets of the game and how they affected the outcome. For example, Saturday’s Baltimore-Denver game shows that the Denver pass offense was worth +6.6 points in the outcome, even with the tipped interception touchdown (that could have been called pass interference, and is not on Manning), and the overtime interception. Baltimore’s pass offense, meanwhile, was worth +15.6 points, which means that the converse, the Denver pass defense, was -15.6 points. The clearest reason for Baltimore winning and Denver losing is the passing game when Manning was on the sideline, however you want to assign responsibility or blame. The Rahim Moore misplay ranks right there with Haruki Nakamura misplaying the deep throw by Matt Ryan to Roddy White earlier this year as some of the worst safety play possible.
While that was a horrible game by the pass defense, it is not that atypical for Manning’s playoff career. Let’s compare him to Tom Brady, and here is a breakdown of various aspects and points added/lost by each phase since 2000 in playoff games (sorry, the loss to Tennessee in his first playoff game not included).
What does that show? Brady and the passing offense has been the primary driver of the Patriots’ playoff success, but the other phases have not hurt him in aggregate. Manning’s teams, on the other hand, have been worse in every phase, except for rushing defense, most notably in passing defense in the postseason. When both Manning and Brady are over 10.0 points added with passing offense, they are undefeated in the playoffs. (5-0 for Manning, 6-0 for Brady including yesterday). It’s what happens when they are not outstanding that has been the difference.
When the passing offense is merely above average (between 5 and 10 points), Manning is 1-5 in the postseason, with the one win coincidentally enough being the huge comeback against New England in the AFC Championship game that, temporarily, reversed the narratives. Brady is 3-1 when putting up similar performances, the one loss being last year’s Super Bowl.
Peyton Manning’s performance on Saturday, by this measure, was exactly in the middle of his past playoff performances–10th best in the postseason. Being exactly in the middle, thusly, means a loss. The special teams provided a boost, but it was more than offset by the defense. Manning should be judged for the specific plays he does and does not make, but when it comes to citing quarterback wins and losses in the postseason, realize that it is tied to many other things. Don’t let kicks, and misses, and shoe string tackles, and safeties blowing coverage define it.
Related: Peyton Manning Career Playoff Record: 9-11, With Eight One-and-Done Postseason Trips
Related: Peyton Manning Waited To Congratulate Ray Lewis After Playoff Loss to Ravens
Related: Related: Peyton Manning Threw an Overtime Interception, Baltimore Kicks Winning Field Goal in Second Overtime
Related: The Denver-Baltimore Game is in Overtime Because of This Horrid Defense, and John Fox
Related: Trindon Holliday Becomes First Player in Playoff History With Kickoff and Punt Return Touchdowns in Same Game
Related: Torrey Smith Has Beaten Champ Bailey For Two Touchdowns Today, Game Tied at the Half
[photo via USA Today Sports Images]