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.
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