I cannot remember the last time the Indianapolis Colts encountered a must-win regular season game, but it certainly was the case Thursday night as they squeaked by the Tennessee Titans with a 30-28 victory. In the prior three-game losing streak, Peyton Manning looked overwhelmed, racking up eight touchdowns to eleven interceptions (four of them being returned for six). The Colts were on the verge of missing the playoffs. I haven’t seen a string of awful performances from Manning since his rookie campaign. It was so surprising that Bob Lamey, the voice of the Colts, stated that the NFL had “figured” Manning out and suggested they start back-up Curtis Painter. I’m sure all Colts’ fans never want to go down that road; luckily on Thursday night, Manning looked liked his star-studded self, carving up 319 yards with two touchdowns and zero interceptions.
“Somebody asked, ‘Are you in a slump?’” Peyton Manning said. “And I said, ‘Well, I guess maybe I was, but I’ve been on about an eight-and-a-half year hitting streak going into that.'”
What separates great players from good players is how they overcome adversity and Peyton certainly did remind us why he is a great NFL quarterback. He showed excellent poise and leadership under pressure as we expect from a vet. The Colts can write their own destiny next Sunday when they face the division leading Jacksonville Jaguars.
How the game was won?
They say a quarterback’s best friend is a running game and it certainly was Manning’s best friend Thursday night. Even though the Colts were only able to salvage 87 yards rushing, it was good enough to prevent the Colts’ offense from being one-dimensional. Donald Brown and Javarris James were able to convert key conversions allowing Peyton to open up the play-action. Establishing the running game early led to Manning’s big night. In the three previous losses, the Colts were simply throwing too much. In those three games, Manning had 52, 48, and 48 pass attempts. So far this season, Manning is averaging 44.5 pass attempts a game which is a lot higher from his previous seasons (35.7 in 2009, 34.7 in 2008, and 32.2 in 2007). Regardless of the quarterback, if your team is one-dimensional it will be difficult to succeed. With so many pass attempts, your quarterback and offensive-lineman are bound to make mistakes; resulting in things like Peyton’s interception party. As long as Manning gets some support from his ground game, he will be able to keep teams off-balance instead of facing the pass-rush every down.
Peyton Manning has tied Dan Marino’s NFL record of most career 300-yard passing games with 63.
Manning has thrown for over 4,000 yards for the 11th time in his career which is five more times than anyone in NFL history.