I know what you’re thinking. Obvious headline says obvious thing.

Anyone who watched Saturday’s game could blatantly see that Peyton Manning wore down late in the fourth quarter and as the game went into overtime, and then into a second overtime. I’m still having a hard time processing the fact that we all watched a playoff game that spilled into a sixth quarter this weekend. More generally, I’m having a hard time processing a lot of the amazing-ness we witnessed this weekend, because much of it didn’t seem possible. But I digress.

While it’s easy for us to acknowledge and accept what our eyes tell us, some numbers to support those observations are always handy. And now we have some.

Deadspin’s Brian Burke charted Manning’s deep throwing — or a lack thereof — and here’s what he found:

For whatever reason—possibly the cold weather having some effect on his grip—Manning did not appear to have the velocity needed for deep passes. Only 2 of his 43 attempts went more than 15 yards downfield. (Quarterbacks typically throw about 20 percent of their passes deep downfield, and Manning averaged 19 percent in the regular season).

The weather element there is vital, though it will get overlooked during the rush to label Manning as the losingest loser who ever lost. Joe Flacco was effected by the bitter Denver cold too, as was everyone Saturday, from the players to the schmuck in section 526 who neglected to wear his double layered thermal underwear. However, he didn’t seem to be effected by it quite as deeply as Manning, especially not on the final minute game-tying touchdown.

This doesn’t change the fact that blaming Manning and only Manning is simply ludicrous, and much more importantly, it’s also hurtful to football. By doing that, and by looking back at a football game through only the prism of black and white, true or false, and win and loss, you’re killing all intelligent football discussion. This is a game played by 11 men on each side, with chaos occurring on each snap. I despise the “wins” stat in any sport, and will pounce on every opportunity to rant against it. But at least we can look at, say, baseball and see a sport where every play begins with a one-on-one battle (pitcher vs. hitter). In football, there are 11 different one-on-one battles, and then when there’s a change in possession, an all new set of battling begins between 11 new bodies on each side.

This is such a mundanely simple principle that it shouldn’t need any explanation, but yet I still find myself writing these words any time a quarterback takes a “loss” in a major game. Manning deserves significant blame Saturday for wearing down, and of course for his overtime interception and late-game fumble. But so does Champ Bailey — a supposed shutdown corner — for being beaten repeatedly by Torrey Smith. So does John Fox for being far too conservative at key moments. So does Matt Prater for duffing a kick. So does Demaryius Thomas after he disappeared for pretty much three quarters.

And most of all, so does Rahim Moore for allowing the fastest guy on the field to beat him for a 70-yard touchdown when the Ravens had no timeouts with 31 seconds left on the clock. Yeah, that part is still pretty important. Had Moore played with basic fundamentals, there wouldn’t have been overtime, and Manning wouldn’t have had his chance to lose the game, or something.

So please do your part, and stop killing intelligent football discussion. Thanks.

And now the links part of the links post…

  • Kenny Britt is being questioned by the police…again. [News Channel 5]
  • DeVier Posey tore his Achilles tendon during the Texans’ loss last night. It’s another disappointing blow for a receiver who was quickly developing, and looked to be the answer Houston was seeking at wide receiver to complement Andre Johnson. [John McClain on Twitter]
  • Unbelievably, the Seahawks’ defense didn’t force a punt until midway through the fourth quarter yesterday. The absence of Chris Clemons was massive. [NFL.com]
  • The 49ers haven’t won a road playoff game since 1989. [San Francisco Chronicle]