At the risk of jinxing the guy, I have to say that I’ve been watching football for a couple of decades now, and I have never before seen anyone master the position of quarterback like Peyton Manning. I’ve always known he was good, elite even, but this is the first year I’ve thought he may actually be the greatest quarterback to ever play the game. I know. I know. There are quarterbacks with more yards and more championships and greater athleticism. I get it. I’ve seen a lot of them play to. Joe Montana was a gutsy player that won championships. Terry Bradshaw was a gator fed Louisiana boy that could sling the ball a country mile. John Elway (my favorite) had an arm and the uncanny ability to scramble his way into big plays. Marino was the best pure passer that ever lived, and yes, Tom Brady is up there to. The guy wins. You can’t take that away from him.
But Manning isn’t just winning. He isn’t just piling up the yards. He isn’t just collecting touchdowns like stamps. He’s dictating the tempo and pace of the game all by himself. To all intents and purposes, he is the offensive coordinator of the Indianapolis Colts. How good is Manning? He made Belichick go for one of the most ill-advised 4th downs I have ever seen. Why? Because he was so afraid of giving the ball back to Manning, he made the decision he had nothing to lose by trying to get the first down. Teams aren’t just making defensive calls to try and stop Manning. They’re making offensive calls to try and keep the ball out his hands.
This past Sunday Houston had a 17 point lead on the Colts, and I promise there wasn’t a person watching that game who thought that was a big enough lead to beat Manning, not even the Texans. Everyone knew that he would make up the deficit. The question was how many receivers he would use to get there, and how many touchdowns he would actually beat them by.