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Monday, January 16, 2006

Manning No Longer Ideal QB

Remember when the name Manning awed quarterback-starved NFL franchises? Anyone else wondering why today? According to Archie never took a team above .500. Elie looked like a deer in headlights at the end of the season. And while Peyton Manning will still be a first-round pick in fantasy drafts next August, it’s now abundantly clear he can’t get it done when the NFL playoffs roll around.

Worse than his on-field perforrmance were his post-game comments. Manning became a whiner yesterday, throwing blame on his offensive line. Worst of all, he did it with full acknowledgement of his desire to hold on to his Golden Boy image. "I'm trying to be a good teammate here," Manning said. "I'll give Pittsburgh credit for the blitzes and their rush. Those guys rushed. But we did have some protection problems."

He topped it off by excusing Mike Vanderjagt, the only guy who choked worse than he did yesterday when the kicker badly missed what would’ve been a game-tying, 46-yard field-goal in a domed stadium. "It's one play,” Manning said. “It's not the reason the Colts didn't win this game."

Actually, it’s one reason. Another is that Manning came up small — again. He started out 2-for-6 in the first quarter, during which the Steelers scored 14 points. He only got his team into the end zone (legitimately) one time, and that wasn’t until the fourth quarter. He only threw one touchdown pass.

Another reason, which would have made the late-game antics mute, should have been an interception by Pittsburgh’s Troy Polamalu at the Pittsburgh 48 with 5:26 remaining. He fumbled getting up from intercepting, but the play was ridiculously ruled incomplete after a replay review.

So if you choose to be enthralled by his passing stats, or all of his supposedly intricate calls at the line, or how he can overrule his head coach on a critical fourth down, go ahead. Manning is now 3-6 in the playoffs. I’m no longer impressed.

Manning accessed his own play with these comments: "Certainly it has not been for a lack of effort due to my part. I've never stepped onto the field or walked off the field saying I could have done more to prepare for this game. There's certainly throws I'd like to have back or series you'd like to have back, or games I wish I would have played better."

We used to expect more from a Manning, though I’m not sure why.

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