For the past three weeks, Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning has not been the same Peyton Manning. The stats may show today that he played well, going 38-of-52 for 396 yards with four touchdowns and three interceptions, along with a 96.3 rating; he didn’t.
Tom Brady barely came out on top as the New England Patriots squeaked out with a 31-28 victory at home. It was like revisiting last season. Manning started struggling really earlier, starting off the first drive with an interception. This would cap off with a Tom Brady to Wes Welker touchdown. The Colts would struggle the next few drives and it led to another score for the New England Patriots.
But the Colts would march back, Manning found tight end Gijon Robinson open for a one-yard touchdown. The Pats would storm back with a Benjarvus Green-Ellis touchdown to put the Pats up 21-7. With only a few minutes remaining in the first half, Manning drove the Colts down the field for a touchdown to Reggie Wayne to cut the deficit to 21-14. Manning was scary good on that drive, with the key play coming off a broken tackle which could have resulted in a sack. Manning would then find a long completion to a wide-open Donald Brown to the left side of the field, which set up the Wayne touchdown.
Indy would struggle in the third quarter, however. Manning would throw an interception and wasn’t on target at all. The defense was even worse, especially on the run. Danny Woodhead was running all over the Colts in the third. After a few big runs, Woodhead busted out for a 36-yard touchdown to bring the Patriots up 28-14.
Entering the fourth quarter, the Pats would extend their lead to 31-14. Hhm, it was just like last year, wasn’t it? The Colts were facing with a 31-14 deficit in the second half. There, Manning would get really hot. He found Blair White for a five-yard touchdown to cut the deficit to 31-21 with 7:57 remaining in the game. After a three-and-out by New England, Manning would find White again for another touchdown to bring the Colts down by three points, 31-28.
After yet another three-and-out, the Colts had one last shot to score. There were two minutes left in the game. Manning was driving down the field, completing passes everywhere. The Colts were now in New England territory, knowing they are going to score no matter what, unless if they make a mistake. Inside the 25, Manning was looking close to the end zone, but the ball would wound up in a Pats’ defender’s hands, which would ultimately end the game.
The Colts easily could have tied the game and send this thing into overtime. But it was Manning, who choked. Manning has choked two times in the past three weeks. This is why many still keep debating between Manning and Brady. Both guys choke. And Pats fans need to admit that Brady chokes, too (example: Blowing your perfect record to the 10-6 Giants in the Super Bowl). But many always say Manning chokes more. It’s not true. Manning gets hated on way too much.
Manning needs to improve. So far, these last three weeks bring a cause for concern with the Colts. Indy is now down to 6-4, tied for first place in the division with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Next week, they face the tough San Diego Chargers. Their record may not show anything bright, but they are a tough opponent. But then again, the Colts are undefeated at home so far. If the Colts can lose no more than one game, just one game, they are good to go for the year.
The Colts need to fix themselves. We all know the Colts could have won this game. All this interceptions were just unnecessary. Going just a little off target shows how bad it can be. And that is what happened to Manning.
But hat-tip to the Patriots, they played really good. Although it was a lost, this is easily one of my most favorite games of the year.
Brady was very accurate in this game, going 19-of-25 for 185 yards with two touchdowns and a 123.1 rating. Brady really must be thanking Woodhead for the strong performance, as he had seven rushed for 69 yards. Green-Ellis also played well with 96 yards on 21 carries and a touchdown.
Manning dealt with a very poor running game. Donald Brown had 68 yards on 17 carries. But most of his yards was thanks to a 36-yard rush. Other than that, the Colts got a bunch of one-to-two yard rushes.
Reggie Wayne had eight catches for 107 yards and a touchdown. Pierre Garcon had five catches for 62 yards. Deion Branch had seven catches for 70 yards while Wes Welker had five catches for 58 yards and a touchdown.
But you know what this game proves? The Colts can beat the Patriots anytime. And if these two meet in the playoffs, I have all the confidence in the Colts. If you haven’t noticed, the Colts were playing without like 20 of their key players. Joseph Addai, Austin Collie, Gary Brackett, Bob Sanders, and all of those guys that aren’t out for the year will be available for the playoffs. And if these two meet, the Colts will win.
This loss won’t affect all that much. All Indy needs to do is beat the Titans at least once and the Jaguars and they got the division win. And then that is when they get serious: the playoffs.
6-4, so what? Many other franchises would kill for this record. Especially if the Colts were in the AFC or NFC West. Indy is fine. Manning played decent, but he needs to play a lot better next week.
Come on Colts, you got to improve. It was a solid game, but that one little mistake changed it all. Great game. Now just get those Chargers next week at Lucas Oil.