You’ve no doubt already read about how the Patriots spotted 24 points to the juggernaut that is Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos. How turnovers undid them in the first half, how they had to cycle through RBs to get to one who wouldn’t cough up the squash, and how the biting wind and cold was a factor. You continued to read on about how Tom Brady engineered this miraculous comeback, again, and has now made himself a candidate for MVP, again. How, as before, Manning couldn’t quite measure up in the elements, how Bill Belichick’s odd decision to give Manning the ball to start OT was derided and then lauded for its genius, and how Welker actually was to blame for the muffed punt that eventually led to the winning field goal in OT. I won’t bother you with a recap. Two great franchises played a see-saw game that may or may not actually have bearing on final standings. Here are my final takeaways from Sunday Night’s Manning-Brady XIV:
- Let’s first admit, this wasn’t a great game. Great ending? Not even. Close game, yes. Bizarre game, definitely. But the two best QBs of a generation (or more) squaring off in prime time could’ve been so much more. It was actually sloppy. Very sloppy. Eleven times the ball was fumbled. The two teams combined for seven turnovers and sixteen penalties (not counting the ones declined). And the officiating was poor at best. The only players that really stood out were Von Miller, for a half, Tom Brady, Julian Edelman and Knowshon Moreno. By the end of the game Moreno had 224 yards, most of it into the guts of the Patriots defense. For that alone, the Pats D can’t be said to have had a good game. Stops when they needed them? Yea, but nothing more. If anyone should be pissed about the loss its Moreno, not Manning. Peyton barely showed up.
- Don’t know why I haven’t heard or read this yet, but the Broncos defense all but disappeared. Giving up 440 yards of offense is one thing (after all, Brady had to throw to get back in the game) but 34 points in the 2nd half and OT? By the end of the 3rd quarter it was 24-21 and the mo had all swung back. You wanna win a title, you need to step on some necks.
- The decision by Belichick at the start of OT to let Manning have the ball no matter which team won the toss was curious at the start, but the explanation bore out the reasoning, and it wasn’t just about kicks into the wind. Having gotten all the stops and turnovers he had needed up to that point, and having seen Moreno limping around like a twice-run colt, el Hoodie rolled the dice on a stop and being able to hit a wind-aided FG from 40-plus. BB said he thought the difference in field position needed to hit a FG was close to 25 yards. He also said that his ST Coach told him with the wind the 40-yard line was the spot to get to. Into the wind? The fifteen. Its clear, though it’ll never be said, that Belichick realizes Manning’s arm strength isn’t what it once was. Forcing him to throw into the wind meant that at the very least a sustained drive would be needed to score a TD. Into the wind Peyton went 11-23, 91 YD, 1 TD, 1 INT, 54.8 rating. They each had 23 attempts into the wind. Brady’s QBR was 129. Manning’s, 55. This was less about Prater v. Gostkowski and more about Manning v. Brady than people realize.
- If Peyton wants to win another title, he’s going to have to figure out this cold weather bit. This year the playoffs will go through Denver, Foxboro or Kansas City, maybe Cincinnati. We’re not talking umbrella drinks here. Oh and the Super Bowl will be in North Jersey in February. He better hope Al Gore is right.
- Has anyone considered the fact that Bill Belichick has his own perfect storm set up? Before Sunday night teams that were down by 24 or more were 6-485 all time. Manning himself had never lost a game he led by 22 or more (52-0). The patriots are a team mostly comprised of young players and guys new to New England, guys that haven’t experienced the “Brady Magic” if you will. After this season, after last night, they’ll be lining up to worship at the feet of Coach Belichick. He has no doubt made his team think they’ve been disrespected, counted out, jobbed by the refs in Jersey and Carolina, and left for dead against Miami, New Orleans and now Denver. Add to that list the monsoon in Cincy, and Belichick can package the entire season as an ‘us against them’ narrative. Nobody does it better.
Next year the AFC West and AFC East will each play each other. Meaning there will be a Manning-Brady XV. It will be in Foxboro. If these teams matchup again this season, it would most likely be in the AFC Title game. Looking ahead at schedules, it would most likely be in Denver, in January. Anyone this week going to say Peyton Manning has home-field advantage in that one?
Brady Manning rivalry