Manning-Can Either Brother Win the Big One?
It was just over a year ago, after the Colts lost to the Pats in their
post-season contest, that Boomer Esiason said on national television, "I
think maybe Peyton (Manning) is this generation's Dan Marino." Esiason
went on to state that Manning "is a great football player, but he's not
going to get to the Super Bowl, I'm telling you, not with that defense."
Marino, who was on the set, took umbrage at the reference and shot back,
"Oh, wait a minute. I got to a Super Bowl." Marino made a good point,
but still, Esiason seemed to be on target by not blaming either
quarterback for their failings but, rather, the guys on the other side
of the ball-their weak defenses.
Fast forward to
January 15, 2006, almost exactly a year to the date that Esiason made
his comments. What was different this time for Peyton Manning and the
The Colts seemed
to have the full package-a great running and passing attack, a solid
offensive line, and a fine defense. Everything was aligned for
Manning-Mania to take full effect, especially after such a
spectacular regular season.
But once again, under the glare of the national spotlight, in a huge
playoff game, and under the kind of pressure he had rarely seen all
season, Peyton Manning crumbled. This latest derailment of the Coltís
Super Bowl Express drew a barrage of disparaging comments from many
writers and commentators, including the NY Timesí William C. Rhoden. Two
days after the loss, Rhoden dubbed Manning "the king of statistics but
the prince of NFL quarterbacks" in that although he can generate
statistics, he may be incapable of closing the deal and ever bringing a
championship to Indianapolis.
No matter how much you respect Peyton Manning and his amazing regular
season performances, itís difficult to argue with the facts. In eight
seasons the Colt QB has led his team to the playoffs six times where he
is 3-6. In those nine games heís hit for 15 TDs, while throwing 8 INTs
and being sacked 13 times. There are quarterbacks, most recently Tom
Brady, who usually manage to rise to the occasion in the big game, ably
dealing with a panoply of adversity. And then there are those like
Manning, usually able to run like finely tuned, precision machines,
which means when everything is copacetic they hum along but let
something like a blitz throw off their rhythm and they breakdown.
Some people point
out that maybe he has too much control over the offense, constantly
changing and adjusting plays at the line of scrimmage, and when
things go awry itís almost impossible for Manning to adapt. Others
claim that he simply canít handle the pressure of a big game
situation. Some blame others on the team. After losing to the
Steelers this post-season, Peyton Manning did something heís never
done before; point the finger at his teammates.
Then thereís Peytonís younger brother Eli, who just finished his second
NFL season and his first professional post-season. Against the Carolina
Panthers Eli Manning completed 10 of 18 passes, threw three
interceptions, was sacked four times and lost one fumble as the Giants
were humbled by their opponents 23 to zip. At one point in the game it
seemed as if Eli Manning thought his job was to get the ball to the
Panthers as boos echoed throughout Giants Stadium and fans hustled for
Coolness under pressure-is this a Manning characteristic? Or do Peyton
and Eli share some sort of panic gene? For Eli itís simply too early to
tell and with Peyton, thereís still time left to turn the tide.
Perhaps one should ask, "What would dad and former NFL QB Archie Manning
do?" Thereís no answer to that question-in 15 NFL seasons Archie never
came close to making it to the playoffs.
Time will tell what the true legacy of the Manning brothers will be. Dan
By Paul Mrocza
This article was written by Paul Mrocza sponsored by
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