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ESPN: Manning's Playoff Career Worthy of More Respect

Over at ESPN Insider, a look at Tom Brady and Peyton Manning's playoff records. So often wins and losses come down to one play, and the difference between Brady's 22-8 and Manning's 12-13 is heavily determined by six specific plays where neither quarterback was even on the field: four field goals and two plays by defenders named Moore. We'll be expanding this article with a look at similar plays for other current top quarterbacks in a second article on Football Outsiders next week.

We will not be enforcing our usual "no Brady-Manning arguments" rule in the discussion thread for this article, so go nuts, people.

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233 comments, Last at 26 Jan 2016, 3:28pm

146 Re: ESPN: Manning's Playoff Career Worthy of More Respect

All i"m trying to do is get them to concede that the reasons I provided were valid. Instead of doing that, they said that my point about pick sixes was a bad one, but it wasn't. The point is that not only has Brady turned the ball over less often than Manning, but that the particular turnovers he has created have been less costly than many of Manning's. I think that helps my argument, and it's a point no one else has acknowledged.

148 Re: ESPN: Manning's Playoff Career Worthy of More Respect

Fair enough, but the point about pick-sixes doesn't enhance your argument. All it does is bring to mind a Brady interception which is about as costly as it's possible for an interception to be, all-but-directly taking points away from New England and setting the opponent up on the goal line. Tom Brady doesn't become a worse quarterback, or any less/more* superior/inferior* to Peyton Manning, if Ben Watson doesn't sprint 100 yards toward his own goal line or Champ Bailey doesn't slow down on a chilly night in Denver ten years ago.

And that's only one specific example of how random the outcomes are for interception returns.

(*delete according to preference)

153 Re: ESPN: Manning's Playoff Career Worthy of More Respect

Less costly? ramirez, do some research for a change instead of looking at totals.

I wrote this before the 2013 AFC Championship Game and most of it still stands. Manning had a bad early pick against Seattle. He had the pick-six against Seattle on a hit-as-he-threw play that you'd be silly to say was mostly his fault. Fumbled in the 4Q down 43-8 (garbage time). Bad strip-sack early vs. Colts last year. And that's it for new plays. Brady threw four INTs total in last year's SB run. They came when the games were still close/early. Picked at the 1 vs. Indy. Bad red-zone pick vs. Seattle, then another INT in 3rd QT when trailing.

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Both quarterbacks have 22 interceptions in the playoffs. Brady has 115 more attempts, but studying all 44 plays show some key differences.

Brady has 18 bad throws and 4 tipped balls. On the tips, one was tipped at the line, one hit Donte Stallworth in one hand, one hit Sam Aiken high in one hand and another practically got Ben Watson killed in 2009. Two picks were thrown desperately in the fourth quarter with the Patriots trailing 27-13 (2005 Denver) and 28-13 (2012 Ravens). That’s still not garbage time yet as one score sets up an onside kick opportunity in a one-score game either way. Brady was at the Baltimore 22 on last year’s pick.

Manning has 15 bad throws, two QB/WR miscommunications with Marvin Harrison (both vs. Ty Law/2006 Chiefs) and five tipped balls. On the tips, one hit Marcus Pollard’s hand too high, one hit Reggie Wayne in the hands high, one deflected right off Kenton Keith’s hands deep in the red zone, one hit Eric Decker and the refs missed the defensive pass interference and one last week hit Decker in the chest and was deflected and caught in the end zone by San Diego. Three of Manning’s picks were in obvious garbage time: down 34-0 vs. Jets (4Q), down 41-0 vs. Jets (4q), down 20-3 vs. 2004 Patriots (12 seconds left). Against the 2006 Ravens, he threw a bomb on 3rd-and-17 with a 12-6 lead that was intercepted by Ed Reed. That served as a punt.

Each quarterback has had one interception fumbled back to them. Manning’s came in 2009 (BAL) with a 17-3 lead in the 3rd quarter. Brady’s came in 2006 (SD) with the Patriots down 21-13 and 6:16 left in the 4th quarter.

Luck Advantage: Brady

Each quarterback has had a turnover on the field reversed to an incomplete pass. Brady’s was the fumble that introduced us to the Tuck Rule against the Raiders in 2001. Without the call, the game would have been over with Rich Gannon taking knees. Manning’s was in 2005 against Pittsburgh on a Troy Polamalu interception overturned to an incompletion. Manning still trailed 21-10 with 5:26 left. Manning also lost a fumble last season against the Ravens on a very similar play to the Tuck Rule, but did not get that call in the last possible case it could have been used before the NFL removed it this offseason.

Luck Advantage: Brady.

Brady turned the ball over three times at home in the first quarter alone in an ugly 2009 loss to the Ravens. Manning threw three interceptions at home against the 2006 Chiefs, but still completed 30-of-38 passes (including a spike and one drop) in a 23-8 win.

Oh, and which quarterback threw four interceptions in the 2003 AFC Championship? When watching the game (http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x10ejqw_which-qb-threw-four-interceptions-in-2003-afc-championship_sport), felt like both, but only one defense took advantage.

Brady has four red-zone interceptions. All four were bad/forced throws. Manning has five red-zone interceptions. The last three all deflected off his receiver and the very first came when he trailed 41-0 in 2002 (Jets) and had the ball at the 19.

Manning has thrown three pick-sixes in the playoffs, including last year’s botched no-call. Brady has none, because Ben Watson tracked down Champ Bailey to the 1-yard line and prevented a 100-yard return in 2005.

Brady has 10 fumbles (3 lost) in the playoffs. Manning has 5 fumbles (2 lost). Fumble Luck Advantage: Brady

Manning’s first lost fumble was a handoff on a running play to Joseph Addai in Super Bowl XLI. The Bears recovered. Brady is credited with a botched handoff fumble in the 2006 AFC Championship in Indy. The Patriots recovered it for a touchdown. Fumble Luck Advantage: Brady.

Brady only had 3 INTs when he started 10-0 in the playoffs, but clearly that part of his game has changed and he’s always been as or more likely to have a bad turnover in a close game or in the red zone than Manning in the playoffs.

154 Re: ESPN: Manning's Playoff Career Worthy of More Respect

Why is it more lucky for Brady to benefit from the tuck rule, a call that was made correctly, than it is for manning to benefit from the call on the Polamalu pick, which was a terrible call? The NFL later admitted the Polamalu reversal was the wrong call, how do you explain that?

I don't get the analytics community. It's full of people like Kacsmar and his lackeys, who claim to draw conclusions based upon stats and evidence, but are in reality some of the most deluded fanboys I've ever encountered. Kacsmar refuses to apply the same standards to Brady's career and achievements that he applies to Manning's, and it severely hurts his credibility as a football analyst.

If you apply fair and consistent standards to both QBs, you'll see that Brady has outperformed Manning in the playoffs, though I'll agree it's not by a gigantic margin.

160 Re: ESPN: Manning's Playoff Career Worthy of More Respect

Manning's 2 luckiest breaks came in a single game his team *lost anyway* thanks to the "idiot kicker." Is there really a better demonstration of that side of the luck argument?

I, too, tend to believe that "Brady has outperformed Manning in the playoffs, though...not by a gigantic margin." Although, it would be hard for me (or anyone really) to still think that if Brady were 9-13 in the playoffs, even though you can get him there without changing a single thing he actually did: https://twitter.com/hscer/status/689461727763689476

188 Re: ESPN: Manning's Playoff Career Worthy of More Respect

Here's the tuck rule: "any intentional forward movement of his arm starts a forward pass, even if the player loses possession of the ball as he is attempting to tuck it back toward his body. Also, if the player has tucked the ball into his body and then loses possession, it is a fumble."

Here's the video without any players talking over it: http://www.nfl.com/videos/new-england-patriots/0ap2000000146416/The-Tuck-Rule

The ball stops moving forward and actually starts moving backwards when it was hit, meaning the ball was tucked before possession was lost. The reversal was incorrect.

149 Re: ESPN: Manning's Playoff Career Worthy of More Respect

I think you forget the most obvious reason, which is more important than your four reasons. Bill Belicheck has coached avery one of Brady's games while Manning has been coached by Jim Mora (never successful), Tony Dungy (fired by Tampa for being too conservative), Jim Caldwell (zombie sideline coach), John Fox, and Gary Kubiak, both of which have been derided as being too conservative. To me, this is the biggest problem with trying to compare the two. No formula can actually take into account the coaching differences.

BTW...maybe I overstated the fact the Brady won his 4th SB simply because of a game ending INT. However, the fact is that his team was on the verge of losing and he had no control...and yet still one. This has happened at least three times for Brady - tuck rule (which no one had heard about before and had rarely if ever been applied), McCree's INT/fumble, and Wilson's INT. I may be wrong, but I can't remember a single instance this has happened for Manning.

150 Re: ESPN: Manning's Playoff Career Worthy of More Respect

I think you forget the most obvious reason, which is more important than your four reasons. Bill Belicheck has coached avery one of Brady's games while Manning has been coached by Jim Mora (never successful), Tony Dungy (fired by Tampa for being too conservative), Jim Caldwell (zombie sideline coach), John Fox, and Gary Kubiak, both of which have been derided as being too conservative. To me, this is the biggest problem with trying to compare the two. No formula can actually take into account the coaching differences.

BTW...maybe I overstated the fact the Brady won his 4th SB simply because of a game ending INT. However, the fact is that his team was on the verge of losing and he had no control...and yet still one. This has happened at least three times for Brady - tuck rule (which no one had heard about before and had rarely if ever been applied), McCree's INT/fumble, and Wilson's INT. I may be wrong, but I can't remember a single instance this has happened for Manning.

151 Re: ESPN: Manning's Playoff Career Worthy of More Respect

I really don't know how to get through to Manning's fans. They simply WILL NOT apply the same standards to manning that they apply to Brady. Dungy's an idiot coach? He turned Tampa from a laughingstock into a Super Bowl contender, and TB won the Super Bowl the year after he left, with mostly the same players. Then he took the Colts to a SB win in 2006, and we've already covered the fact that Manning doesn't deserve much credit, given how bad his stats were in the 2006 playoffs. Manning's best successes came under Dungy, one of the most successful coaches in modern NFL history. That's an indisputable fact.

The Tuck Rule had been applied before the Raiders game, and the call was made correctly. Look it up for yourself if you don't believe me. Your claims about the McCree fumble and the Tuck Rule, as I've explained above, are wrong. Brady still had to lead his team from behind after both of those plays, and without an outstanding performance by Brady down the stretch, the Patriots don't win those games. I know you won't acknowledge those facts, but they're true.

Brady has caught a few breaks, just like Manning, but Brady has more often taken advantage of those breaks with strong late-game performances. I don't think clipper is being objective and neutral when he argues otherwise.

173 Re: ESPN: Manning's Playoff Career Worthy of More Respect

"Brady has caught a few breaks, just like Manning, but Brady has more often taken advantage of those breaks with strong late-game performances"

This is anectodal, but here's the difference. You mention the Tuck Rule, even if it was applied correctly, it was somewhat lucky. Please don't try to tell me Brady knew he was tucking it. He clearly thought judging by his reaction the game was over.

Manning's biggest break, arguably came against Pittsburgh with either the Polamalu interception being overturned, or the Bettis fumble.

In both cases the QB drove the team in tough field goal range. Brady left Vinatieri a 45-yarder in a blizzard. Manning left Vanderjagt a 48-yarder in a dome. Both needed the FG to get to OT. Vinatieri makes it. Vanderjagt misses about as bad as you can.

Both QBs did the exact same thing. THe kickers didn't.

I would never argue Manning has been a better playoff QB than Brady. I would argue he's been about as good, but he has gotten the worst luck in playoff history. They both have played quite well for QBs in the playoffs (both well below their regular season level). Brady's team has a better record partly because of events Brady had no say on.

208 Re: ESPN: Manning's Playoff Career Worthy of More Respect

You need to go back to my original post here. The point Scott made that I took exception to is when he said that the McCree game against SD, and the tuck rule game are negative examples for Brady career. What Scott is trying to argue is that the fact that brady caught breaks negates his strong play after that point in the game. If we apply this standard to Manning's best playoff comeback, the 2006 semifinal against NE, we would also conclude that it counts as an example of Manning getting lucky. Before the Colts came back, they caught 2 huge breaks. Saturday recoverd a fumble for a TD, and Caldwell dropped a sure TD pass when the Colts left him open in the end zone. So if Brady can't take credit for his comebacks against Oakland and San Diego, Manning can't take credit for winning the AFC champ against NE.

But of course, Kacsmar doesn't apply that standard to both players. He's trying to take away credit from Brady for his comebacks, but still give Manning credit for his big comeback. That's a grossly unfair double standard, and that's why Scott is wrong. In all 3 cases, I believe the QB deserves significant credit for leading a comeback.

hscer says that if you change a few plays in Brady's career, he has a losing playoff record. So what? I could just as easily say that if you change 3 plays in Brady's career, he has 6 rings, and a chance to get a 7th against Rex Grossman. So should I rate Brady as though he has 7 rings? Of course not. The what-if game is endless, and largely meaningless.

The other guy said that Manning is the unluckiest QB in playoff history. Kacsmar has made the same claim, but it's a fabrication. We've covered how in the 2005 game againt Pittsburgh, Manning received a huge dose of good luck. So you can't count that one. What about his other losses? What were the unlucky things that cost him the game against Tennessee, or the game from 2000 against Miami? Vanderjagt missed a long FG, but long field goal attempts don't count when Brady does it, remember? What about the 41-0 loss to the Jets? I guess Peyton got REALLY unlucky in that one. The 2003 loss to NE? Manning threw 4 picks. When other QBs do that, theyre ripped apart for playing terribly. But when Peyton throws 4 picks, he's "unlucky".

What about the 2004 loss to the Pats, when one of the highest scoring teams in NFL history scored an embarrassing 3 points? In the 2007 loss to the Chargers, Manning played much better, but I still don't see what was unlucky about it. In the Saints Super Bowl, Manning blew a chance to win the game by throwing a pick six. That's not bad luck. I think he was a little unlucky to lose to the Jets in 2010, but if you're not going to give credit to Brady for game winning Vinatieri FGs, you can't give Manning credit for one, either. You can't have it both ways. In 2012, Manning threw another killer INT. In the Seattle game, Manning played like garbage, and the highest scoring team produced 8 garbage time points. That's embarrassing. In 2014, the Broncos got outplayed.

So the claim that Manning always loses because of bad luck, or even most of the time, is just not true.

I'm stunned by how irrational the Manning fans in the stat community are (not all of them). It genuinely has the feel of a cult. If you don't worship at the altar of the great Peyton Manning, you're shouted down and treated like a crackpot. But the arguments Kacsmar and his friends make for Manning are irrational and unconvincing. They remind me of the Tebow fanboys, who could never admit that that Tebow was never anything more than an average NFL QB. It's sad, and truly pathetic.

209 Re: ESPN: Manning's Playoff Career Worthy of More Respect

I'll shred this to pieces tomorrow. We won't have an AFC Championship preview on time if I do it now.

I'll only respond to your last paragraph right now. It's not a cult. It's people who actually are paying attention to the games and seeing what the QB is doing. If I tied your ass down A Clockwork Orange style and forced you to watch every dropback from the playoff careers of Manning and Brady, along with the key plays their teammates made or didn't make, then you would finally see just how ridiculous 22-8 vs. 12-13 really is.

210 Re: ESPN: Manning's Playoff Career Worthy of More Respect

Don't bother, Scott. I've already read your AFC champ preview from 2 years ago, when you made a bunch of bogus claims that Manning is better than Brady in the playoffs. I know you don't believe it. If you keep this going, I'll post the link to the comments section on your blog, where I posted as WR, and tore apart much of your article. You've yet to provide coherent answers to anything I posted on your blog site. I'm familiar with your litany of excuses for Manning's playoff failures. (Manning lost in 99 because of Harrison's drops, Clark cost him the 2007 SD game, the other guy forgot the snap count in 2008, etc.) Somehow, when Manning loses, Kacsmar says it's never his fault. I'm tired of the excuses. Don't insult my intelligence by making me read them again.

213 Re: ESPN: Manning's Playoff Career Worthy of More Respect

You're WR? Well that makes sense. I don't bother to reply because you never learn anything anyway. You stick to the same nonsense like what you said above.

Seriously, take a look at what you said earlier. You're equating the Tuck Rule and McCree INT with a Dominic Rhodes fumble and a wide open receiver. Notice how PM isn't involved in the latter?

Brady fumbled, and it should have stayed a fumble against Oakland. He threw a big INT against San Diego, and got the gift of all gifts with it being fumbled back (in good field position too).

Somehow you are comparing Brady getting lucky there with Manning getting lucky because:

A) Manning's RB fumbled at the 1-yard line and his center recovered it.
B) Manning's defense left a WR completely uncovered, Brady took forever to recognize it, and by the time he did, the defender was in position to maybe prevent the TD that Caldwell dropped anyway.

I'm surprised you don't tell me Reggie Wayne not fumbling that ball in the air on the GWD was lucky for Manning (note: Pats were penalized so it would have been moot).

Had these plays gone the other way, I would just have even more ammo for Manning as the unluckiest and Brady the luckiest QB in playoff history. Really, a GW TD pass because no one even covered Reche Caldwell? That'd be a worse highlight than Corey Webster falling down vs. Randy Moss in XLII. Thanks, Manning brothers.

Brady nearly threw a pick-six on the third down that could have iced the game before Manning got the ball back. Who was lucky there? You've got me all confused now.

Look, if you ask someone to explain something and all you do is stick your fingers in your ears and cast it off as "excuses," then I don't know what more to tell you. What's the point of even replying if you're going to be that juvenile about it?

214 Re: ESPN: Manning's Playoff Career Worthy of More Respect

Exactly, Manning benefitted from a play in the 06 game where Rhodes fumbled, and Saturday recovered. Manning did nothing to make that TD happen, and he wasn't on the field when Caldwell dropped the TD pass. In other words, he had nothing to do with two plays that helped keep Indy's hopes alive.

All I'm asking you to do is admit that Manning caught a couple of big breaks in the 06 afc champ game. If you can't admit even that much, you may be more delusional than I thought. And btw, your excuse for why you didn't answer my points on the other site ("you never learn anything anyway") is the weakest of weak sauce.

212 Re: ESPN: Manning's Playoff Career Worthy of More Respect

Who's shouting you down? I was under the impression we were all just debating.

As for your direct response to one of my posts, you could do give Brady six. Congratulations on judging quarterbacks on extenuating circumstances? Let's judge how they played, which is much closer, statistically and/or otherwise, than the W-L records would indicate.

139 Re: ESPN: Manning's Playoff Career Worthy of More Respect

*Not so for Manning in most cases.*

Great! Now you just need to demonstrate this claim. Go through every snap of every playoff game and demonstrate that the "luck" factor was in Brady's favor. Cherry picking a few late game situations not only doesn't get you there, it says less than the argument it is trying to rebut, that wins in the playoffs matter.

For instance, was Peyton unlucky that Vandy shanked the FG against Pitt? Or was he lucky that the officials erroneously overturned a game sealing pick and his defense forced a fumble as the Steelers will killing the clock by the goal line?

138 Re: ESPN: Manning's Playoff Career Worthy of More Respect

Without the breaks he doesn't get the chance. The real difference between Manning in 2000 and Brady in 2001 is the kickers, not the tuck rule. Swap kickers and both results are highly likely to be different and we would be no wiser to the actual timeline. You can say we should judge based on what did happen but then you're engaging in the judge-based-on-factors-outside-the-QB's-control crap which is what Scott is really arguing against beyond the whole Brady-Manning thing; hence, a forthcoming continuation.

110 Re: ESPN: Manning's Playoff Career Worthy of More Respect

There's really one answer to this, that metrics can't capture I think. It boils down to two men, Brady and Manning, who undoubtedly want to be the best ever, and would not settle for less. So, imagine now giving them truth serum, and asking them the question whether they would trade their carreer for that of the other. What would be their answer? I obviously don't know, but while I can't imagine Brady making the swap, I suspect Manning would at least entertain the thought.

155 Re: ESPN: Manning's Playoff Career Worthy of More Respect

Well, for one I am not sure Sanders had the ambition to be the best ever, certainly not at the monomaniacal level of Brady and Manning.

But be that as it may, if it were indeed such a clear-cut, obvious choice for a player who wants to be the best ever to trade his stats/accolades/technical skills for another player's with perhaps lower stats/accolades/skills but a much better winning record, then aren't we to just conclude that a much better winning record perhaps matters more than we would want it to in deciding which player is the best ever?

(And mind you, I am actually not sure Manning would make that trade, I am just suggesting that he is far more likely to consider it than Brady would be, and that this has to mean something for those who feel like they need to decide which of the 2 players is actually better. Which I personally do not.)

158 Re: ESPN: Manning's Playoff Career Worthy of More Respect

There are people living all over the world right now who would much rather be living in the US or western Europe. They could gladly trade careers with just about anyone in those countries.

So aren't we to conclude that people who live in the US or western Europe are much better at whatever it is they do?

161 Re: ESPN: Manning's Playoff Career Worthy of More Respect

Not sure what you mean, really... you need to be more specific.
But assuming for the sake of argument that your broad scenario were true (which I somehow doubt), I think that it would probably tell you that living in a wealthy country vs a poorer one plays a larger role in determining one's personal feeling of fulfillment/safety/personal satisfaction than individual career success. (All this assuming that one could have highly detailed knowledge of what it is like in essence to live in a different country, the same way as a football player can get a very good sense of what it would be like to have another player's career based on that player's stats, reputation and winning record.)

45 Re: ESPN: Manning's Playoff Career Worthy of More Respect

One interesting point - I'm a bit surprised one julian edleman injury can have such a dramatic effect on the effectiveness of the pats offense. It really altered my view of a) the ease of which you can just plug in anyone and b) how good julian edleman/welker are/were as receivers.

100 Re: ESPN: Manning's Playoff Career Worthy of More Respect

Edelman is great, but his importance to this team is compounded by several factors:

1) The OL can't hold blocks for very long.
2) The OL can't run block and the RBs are either ineffective or unhealthy.
3) Amendola also got hurt immediately thereafter.
4) Gronk got hurt, too. And when he returned the team stopped running him in the middle of the field to lessen the likelihood of re-injury.
3) LaFell missed camp and hasn't been the same. Dobson was also put on IR.

So, the team can't switch to a run first approach, doesn't have the weaponry to go with quick passing and doesn't have the OL to be good at longer developing plays.

When I talk about how much difference he'll make this week, it isn't because I think Edelman is a top 3 WR, it's because he's a lynch pin that holds this year's offense together.

113 Re: ESPN: Manning's Playoff Career Worthy of More Respect

I will mention right off I am a Manning fan so my opinions will likely be biased. Having said that, there are two points that are not given enough thought and, as far as I am concerned, sway the argument in Manning's favour. Brady's years have been spent exclusively with one head coach who has an aggressive approach within games. Manning has managed to bring three different coaches to the SB, all of which are known for being very conservative. I know a few QBs have gone to the SB with two different head coaches, maybe only Kurt Warner has done it with three? This is a huge factor since we don't know what Brady would look like with a different HC.

Second, there has always been the argument that Manning's weapons have always been better. However, Manning has never had the other-wordly talent of a Randy Moss or Gronkowski. Harrison and Wayne were both outstanding but not at the same level as Moss or Gronkowski. The fact that Moss was dominant elsewhere also shows that he was not the product of playing with Brady. It could be argued that both Wayne and Harrison were only a great as they were because of Manning.

Having said this, these points don't belittle what Brady has managed to do, it just reflects differences that he did not have to deal with that Manning did.

116 Re: ESPN: Manning's Playoff Career Worthy of More Respect

I do know and understand the fascination people have with regards to "what-ifs" and hypotheticals when it comes to sports debates. I imagine that a portion of the community here share my belief that unless we are discussing quantum mechanics we are more interested in trying to understand what are the variables and underlying causes why a particular event/data point happened and is not as invested with hypothetical outcomes. These 2 QBs are in a tier with a few others as the greatest qbs to ever play the game. The fact that PM played in 25 PO games deserves acclaim and in an alternate dimension might have won a few more SBs if he didn't play concurrently with the dynastic Pats, semi-dynastic Steelers and other very strong AFC squads. Compare this to Elway Broncos who also contended with the 80s Browns, Bills and the Marino Dolphins and you would say that they were in a somewhat similar boat with the exception that the AFC then was historically weak in comparison to the NFC. My own takeaway is similar with the others that PM played in a system which limited his options to win more and really weakened him competing against a franchise with GOAT level coaching, excellent FO, competent ownership and of course GOAT level quarterbacking. PMs' GOAT level resume is sad to say a bit diminished by the results but still admirable and worthy of respect considering the circumstances ( he did win a SB which is something that Jim Kelly would have really wanted ). Having said that the question is does PM share some of the blame because he played in his system? I don't have an answer/opinion on this since I don't have any data and I think this is a question for another day.

118 Re: ESPN: Manning's Playoff Career Worthy of More Respect

Someone needs to analyze it in terms of production of their wide receiver groups, but IMO Manning has over the course of his career played more games with better receiving groups than has Brady (although if the unprovable argument is "Manning makes his guys better and Brady doesn't" then the riddle is solved without need for statistical analysis.

Brady had Moss for two seasons. Gronk for 4 injury free seasons. Brady has rarely had great wide receiver groups and has had some terrible crews (2006, 2013 without Gronk to name two). Manning had ten straight years with both Wayne and Harrison (with some prime Dallas Clark mixed in), as well as VERY solid skill groups in his first few years in Denver.

127 Re: ESPN: Manning's Playoff Career Worthy of More Respect

The issue for me is - Brady's receivers may not be good receivers outside of NE, but thats because NE runs a very unusual system.

This actually a subtle and slight knock on brady that I do harbor. He throws short. I admit to personally hating short throws. They are aesthetically less pleasing to me. But were it just an aesthetics thing, I would move passed it. I mean, I hate how much steph curry's game is built on long bomb threes instead of attacking the basket like durant. Still, can't deny his greatness.

But, research on Yac has shown its not so much a qb thing as it is a system/receiver thing. And this is sort of born out across the league, where numbers are up, not coincidentally, because everyone else is going towards the short passing game. I applaud NE for really discovering this and doing it better than everyone else, but thats partly a brady thing and partly a receiver/scheme thing.

Edit - Just to be clear, I don't want to sound like this knocks brady all the way down to game manager or anything. The chiefs basically the same offense ne does with worse results across the board. It takes a talent like Brady to send it into the stratosphere, so if you think I'm implying that Brady is 2nd rate, undo that inference now.

132 Re: ESPN: Manning's Playoff Career Worthy of More Respect

I have mentioned this before but in addition to analyzing the WR/TE group for each QB, we need to analyze all of the other position groups inc. defense and special teams if we are to have a more complete picture of qb performance. Ignoring for the moment D/ST we should have a look how qb skill can enhance the running game. A qb is directly responsible in diagnosing the defense, setting the protection and identify the point of attack for the rb to punch thru to keep the drive alive and score. I can agree that from a physical standpoint running the ball requires far less from a qb than passing but the mental aspect is no less a part of the skillset required and therefore part of his performance. Granted that it is far harder to quantify mental performance but a rough approximation can be derived from drive success (points per drive and all other derivative metrics). The game management aspect like clock management is also one part even if others say this is more on the coach but the one executing it is the qb and ultimately he controls the huddle or the no-huddle, the snap and all other facets of the execution (with the caveat that you need to control for the quality of his offensive team mates and since the talent level among the different teams in the current NFL is razor-thin in difference this factor evens out). There are a lot of other variables that are too many to mention but one thing I believe in is traditional qb metrics like TDs, yards, ANYA etc. capture a small part of his performance and we need a lot more to have some semblance of a fair comparison.

128 Re: ESPN: Manning's Playoff Career Worthy of More Respect

The better QB in this thread is:

A) The one who played for your favorite team, or
B) The one who didn't play for the team you hated more, or
C) The one you just enjoyed watching more, or
D) The one who won you the most fantasy championships.

All of the rest of this is an exercise in carpal tunnel syndrome.

152 Re: ESPN: Manning's Playoff Career Worthy of More Respect

I am genuinely agnostic with regard to the irrational debate. Tell me what the rest of the roster looks like, what the other rosters in the division look like, and what the other rosters in the conference look like, and I'll tell you which guy in his prime I'd rather have.

However, because I still firmly believe that this is primarily a game about the application of violence, I want to note that Brady has never, ever, had anyone in front of him who has been so inept in the application of violence as Charlie Johnson and Michael Schofield was/is. Not even close. I think there is a very good chance that the latter's ineptitude will be the deciding factor in the contest Sunday, even in Manning's currently reduced state.

159 Re: ESPN: Manning's Playoff Career Worthy of More Respect

Well, this is all pretty silly, isn't it? At this point in a career, you get judged for your actual accomplishments, not might-have-beens. In the playoffs, that has to start with SB wins, and work it's way down from there.

Championships and Wins

With Peyton's playoff appearances and byes, the expected number of SB wins is 1.3. He has 1. He's nearly average.

The expected number of AFC Championships is 2.6. He has 3. He's just above average.

Together, he's as close to average as you can get. Not bad. Not good. Just average at succeeding in the playoffs.

All you can do in any game is win. He's 12-13 overall. Again, as close to average as he could get. Not good. Not bad. Just average.

Drives
Of course, he only plays on offense. And all he an do on offense is lead scoring drives, and avoid big failures like turnovers or failed fourth downs or running out of time while trying to score.

The average drive Big Fail rate is 20.2%. Peyton had big failures at a rate of 23.0%. That's not good. That's not awful. But it's bad.

The average drive fail rate (adding in punts) is 58.4%. Peyton's rate was 55.2%. That's good.

The average TD rate was 21.9%. Peyton's was 21.1%. That's a bit less than average. Not good, nor bad. But below average.

The average FG attempt rate was 16.0%. Peyton's was 20.7%. That's good in a sense and bad in a sense.

Overall, Peyton's drives led to TDs or FG attempts 41.8% of the time versus the average of 37.9%. So he's good there, even if he's not good at leading TD drives.

Total Assessment
Overall, you'd have to treat this an average-ish result on a large body of work. He wins like an average playoff QB. He led drives that scored FGs more than average but had drives fail badly more than average, too.

His legacy in the playoffs is exactly what people (other than Scott and other die-hard Peyton fans) think: average.

Average. Average. Average.

His record for one-and-dones will stand forever. But even that is only a couple games more than an average QB would have had with the same number of appearances.

Average in the Playoffs

Meh. Get over it guys. Peyton's legacy and Hall of Fame credentials are all about his regular season record and stats, which are really great. He deserves to get in on that basis. But he's dead middle of the pack for playoff accomplishments.

164 Re: ESPN: Manning's Playoff Career Worthy of More Respect

Peyton has played in 4 Conference Championship games and it will be 5 come this weekend. Edit: just noticed you were pointing out wins, not played in.

"All you can do in any game is win. He's 12-13 overall. Again, as close to average as he could get. Not good. Not bad. Just average."

Expected records in the playoffs are actually losing because of the one and done format.

166 Re: ESPN: Manning's Playoff Career Worthy of More Respect

Nope.

The mean (what we usually call "average") winning percentage is 50%. That's obvious.

The median (what we sometimes mean by "average") record is 0-1 in years when 3 or 4 teams with byes lose their opening game, and 1-1 in years when 3 or 4 teams with byes win their opening games.

Since Peyton entered the playoffs in 1999, the median yearly playoff record is 1-1. There have been 7 one-and-done teams in just one of those seasons. There have been fewer than 6 one-and-done teams 10 years in that period.

Perhaps you mean that losses tend to get distributed across a lot of teams that only make the playoffs occasionally, so the median team playoff record over a stretch of years is a losing one. That may or may not be true. But it doesn't apply in this case, since Peyton has made it the playoffs so often. In fact, it makes things look a lot worse for Peyton.

If you check the page for QB playoff win-loss records, Peyton's an outlier considering his number of appearances. For QB's with losing records, Peyton has 25 games started, Marino has 18, and Hasselbeck has 11. Twenty (!!!) other QBs with more than ten playoff games started all have winning records. Even the QBs with just ten games are predominantly winners.

History tells us that if you make it to the playoffs consistently, then you are expected to have a winning playoff record, too. For QBs with at least ten playoff games, the average winning percentage is 60.6%. Manning is three games shy of that mark, well below average for such QBs.

184 Re: ESPN: Manning's Playoff Career Worthy of More Respect

I didn't read the whole article. It's pay-walled, and I'm not about to give ESPN more money. And it's written by a known extremely biased Peyton-fan, who also doesn't deserve to get more money for writing an obvious fan article. Sorry. You're okay, even good, on some topics. But when you hit your hot-button topic, you're just another fanboy.

And besides, you goofed in this comment. I based things on the results of OFFENSIVE DRIVES not just W-L. And Peyton's drive results in the playoffs are decidedly average. "Incredible reading comprehension, Scott."

Whatever Peyton has done statistically, it hasn't translated into notably good drives, much less wins. So what's the point, other than stats padding? I get that you could have great drive stats and still lose. But if you're only getting mediocre drive results, then the offense (and its leader) haven't earning anything but a mediocre playoff legacy, which is accurately reflected in a mediocre playoff W-L record.

To go deeper than that, you'd need to go into cherry-picked blame assignment for individual drives or plays, as you do with your "six key plays" concept. Or you'd have to ignore drive results entirely and just praise stats padding while ignoring important factors like playing inside, where stats are well known to be easier to compile. Either way, you've left the arena of accomplishments and have moved into the land of "might-have-been" and fantasy football.

187 Re: ESPN: Manning's Playoff Career Worthy of More Respect

I've done a drive stats article for the playoffs each of the last five years, and will do a sixth before the SB.
http://www.footballoutsiders.com/stat-analysis/2015/quarterback-postseason-drive-stats

How is 3rd in yards per drive mediocre? The fact that he's 14th in Pts/Dr just shows he's been saddled with terrible field position (31st out of 33) and a high rate of factors out of his control such as dropped passes, fumbled completions and short-yardage running game failures.

If he's average in the playoffs, I'd love to see what your distribution would look like since that means only about a handful of players could be above average. Note: over 200 QBs have started playoff games.

175 Re: ESPN: Manning's Playoff Career Worthy of More Respect

Come on Nat, you're better than this.

That whole first section is equating a team outcome with him.

The second section is interesting, but do you take into account field position, for which Manning has historically been saddled with about the worst field position in history for a playoff QB?

190 Re: ESPN: Manning's Playoff Career Worthy of More Respect

The point about WINS is that they are what you are trying to accomplish in a game, rather than what you as an individual are trying to do to accomplish those wins.

But I immediately go to DRIVES because that's what a QB (as passer and play caller) has direct control over. So sure, if Peyton was great at leading the offense to successful drives and at avoiding big failures, we could forgive his mediocre W-L record. But that's not what happened, is it? His drives were pretty average at getting useful results. They adequately explain the W-L record, without having to blame his defense (or say that he was bringing the defense down more than they deserved, for that matter.)

You are right that the 1999-2010 Colts had bad average field position in the playoffs, about four yards worse than median. I suspect that was not just about the defense and special teams but also about those "big fail" drives. Those kill field position. It's better to punt than throw an interception or fail on fourth down, etc. Lots of field goal attempts might also explain some field position issues, since they cancel any field position you gained on those drives.

The Manning-led Broncos have no such field position problem.

But you did raise an interesting point. Could field position explain a contrast between compiled stats and drive results? What else might explain it? Is it just a Red Zone issue?

Regardless, the contrast does exist. It's real. For whatever reason, Peyton had issues with big fail drives, offset by his strong ability to lead drives into field goal range. The result was an offense that accomplished its goals like an average playoff offense, but not more than that.

193 Re: ESPN: Manning's Playoff Career Worthy of More Respect

"For whatever reason, Peyton had issues with big fail drives"

Not interested in discovering the reasons behind such things? Isn't that the whole point of digging into this stuff?

Manning's offenses have 16 drives that ended on downs.

1. 99 TEN - Edge dropped a pass on 4th-and-4 in the flat
2. 00 MIA - Edge stopped on 3rd-and-2 run; Colts try a fake FG instead of a 46-yard FG. It failed
3. 03 KC - 13 seconds left, Colts up 38-31, run Rhodes on 4th-and-3. No big deal
4. 03 NE - Manning incomplete on 4th-and-10, down 21-14. NFL admits NE should have been penalized for holding/DPI on 3rd and 4th down.
5. 03 NE - Manning 9-yd pass on 4th-and-10. Troy Walters literally steps out of bounds a yard short with seconds remaining. Not on QB
6. 05 PIT - Manning buried on 4th-and-16 quick sack
7. 06 KC - up 15 in 4Q, three runs and a punt that gets botched and turns into -16 yd completion from Hunter Smith
8. 06 CHI - up 29-17 late, run Rhodes on 4th-and-6. No big deal.
9. 07 SD - down 28-24 late, Merriman abuses Tony Ugoh and Manning throws short & incomplete. You can criticize PM for that down series.
10. 07 SD - last chance, Wayne drops pass on 3rd-and-5 after big hit. Clark drops pass on 4th-and-5 to end game
11. 08 SD - Addai stopped on 3rd-and-1 run. Manning incomplete on 4th-and-1 in 3rd QT. Don't remember this one too well.
12. 09 NO - just watched this yesterday. 4th-and-goal of the SB, Wayne drops pass at goal line. Could have tried an onside kick if IND scored here.
13. 13 SEA - think this was a tipped ball on 4th-and-short before halftime, down 22-0
14. 13 SEA - down 43-8 in 4Q, 4th-and-2 incompletion. Don't remember it, don't care either at 43-8
15. 14 IND - 7-yard pass to Anderson on 4th-and-8. Bad ALEX decision here. Too far to gain (down 24-13 late here)
16. 15 PIT - perfect pass to Sanders on 4th-and-3, but he drops it on contact. Have to hold onto that one.

Still want to put these "big fail" drives on the QB? But hey, you'll always have 07 SD to point to at least.

196 Re: ESPN: Manning's Playoff Career Worthy of More Respect

You're on the wrong website if you think analyzing what happened in a game is making an excuse. It's an explanation, and while I know it takes work to actually go back and chart this stuff, that's why I have this job and you're left being an annoying little gnat in the comments section.

203 Re: ESPN: Manning's Playoff Career Worthy of More Respect

Is this really the way to talk to your readers? It's not great when the writer of an article stoops to the depths of the lowest commenter. It's actually kind of depressing.

You should have a lot more respect for the community here. The thing that drove me to click on this FO discussion was smart conversation from readers about the article, not the article itself. Us commenters aren't perfect and we'll get into squabbles and say silly things to each other, but the regulars here (Will, chem burn, RickD, theslothook, milkman and many, many others) offer up a lot of different and interesting perspectives, even when the writers here don't.

Maybe it's asking too much for you to take the high road when sometimes a commenter, like me, won't. But some of us may also be less likely to participate in the discussion if it'll just turn into a back patting session for the writer.

197 Re: ESPN: Manning's Playoff Career Worthy of More Respect

"suspect that was not just about the defense and special teams but also about those "big fail" drives. Those kill field position. It's better to punt than throw an interception or fail on fourth down, etc."

That's an interesting question. We can look at where those big fail drives occur, but it also then comes to what the defense does on the other end compared to expectations.

I agree that in converting production into points, Manning's offenses have been average in the playoffs, but there are clouding factors, and any attempt to isolate just QB performance, whether it be DVOA/DYAR, or what Chase Stuart has done on his blog (I think there's a link here to that stuff) shows him as a good playoff QB.

174 Re: ESPN: Manning's Playoff Career Worthy of More Respect

I'm guessing this is why these threads were banned. This reads more like a Breitbart comment section than a football analytics site. Actually scratch that, this reads exactly like a football analytics site.

The reality is that as a team sport, football analytics have a hard time isolating individual performances. We all accept that there exist things in football that statistics cannot currently measure. Thus gary can logically use SB wins as the single best measure of QB (or any other position) performance.

Proof:

Assumption 1
The most fundamental measure of football performance is a player's (or coach's) added probability to a team of super bowl victories.

Assumption 2
The impact of "things statistics cannot measure" is large.

Thus we have no way of controlling for "things statistics cannot measure" and we are left with only one viable statistic: SB victories.

Argument over.

177 Re: ESPN: Manning's Playoff Career Worthy of More Respect

Hey Nat,

How about this post which compares each QB's expected ANY/A based on their season average and the defense they faced and then computes total value by multiplying by the number of attempts and the leverage situation.

http://www.footballperspective.com/the-best-playoff-quarterbacks-in-the-super-bowl-era/

191 Re: ESPN: Manning's Playoff Career Worthy of More Respect

Personally I think the whole Brady vs Manning thing has become a moot point.

Back in 2005 the argument was "Brady's got rings" vs "Manning has stats but is always 1-and-done in the playoffs".

Since 2006 ...
- Both are capable of leading offenses that dominate and seem to score at will.
- Both have put up gaudy stats.
- Both have appeared in three Super Bowls winning 1 and losing 2.
- Both managed to come back from bad injuries that required surgery and play at a great level again.

215 Re: ESPN: Manning's Playoff Career Worthy of More Respect

This. Before I comment further, I will say that I am a Pats fan and always have been, long before Brady and Belichick came around (I even thought Belichick was making a huge mistake by not giving Bledsoe his job back!).

Prior to 2007, Manning was clearly the better overall player, but Brady had better overall teams and won 3 rings. Since 2007, Brady has proven that he could play at Manning's previously established elite level. Manning is without a doubt the greatest regular-season QB ever, at least statistically.

I think what clouds people's perceptions of both players is that, for whatever reason, there have been many playoff games where Manning has appeared to be beaten down, confused, surprised, whatever terminology you want to use, when his offense hasn't performed up to their regular season prowess. I can only remember this happening once or twice to Brady (2010 WC against Ravens and possibly the 2011? divisional round loss to the Jets). Maybe I'm forgetting some (and some may want to include the first SB loss to the Giants, and I wouldn't argue to hard against it). Of course, some of that has to do with the Pats not losing as much. Otherwise, their playoff numbers are relatively similar, and Manning has the edge in those numbers in many cases.

I really don't have any doubt in mind that if the players switched teams that Manning would have won SBs with those Pats teams, if the luck and other factors remained the same. However, I will say that one thing about Brady and the Pats in general is that they are willing and able to completely change their identity from game to game based on gameplan, personnel, matchups, etc., and that is an extremely difficult thing to do. While Brady has never been the best deep ball thrower, he certainly was able to take advantage of Moss's capabilities when he had him. But most of his career, his receivers haven't been of that ilk, and the offense has changed accordingly. He may not throw the ball deep very much anymore, but the reason he's still so good is his accuracy in tight spaces on short throws is usually phenomenal.

At the end of the day, it all boils down to Tom Brady = winner sauce! I kid of course.

216 Re: ESPN: Manning's Playoff Career Worthy of More Respect

The irrational thread is a well-named thread since both sides remain irrational after all these years. Just to add fuel to the fire, I find that a lot of people still equate good passing with good qb-ing when one is just a subset of the other and being the best passer doesn't necessarily mean being the best qb. It is good to be reminded of the 11 commandments of being a good qb according to Bill Parcells, very illuminating.

218 Re: ESPN: Manning's Playoff Career Worthy of More Respect

Maybe ramirez won't choose to listen, but other people might be interested.

"The other guy said that Manning is the unluckiest QB in playoff history. Kacsmar has made the same claim, but it's a fabrication."

First we need a definition of luck.

"A combination of circumstances, events, etc., operating by chance to bring good or ill to a person" or "success or failure apparently brought by chance rather than through one's own actions."

In the context of a quarterback, we're looking at events in a game that were really out of his control. There are a lot of those over the 3 hours, but we tend to focus on the most significant plays and the ones that move the needle in win probability the most, as well as the improbable mistakes like screwing up an easy catch or missing an easy field goal.

So it's just common sense that Manning has had the most bad luck. How else do you get to the most playoff losses ever with the most close losses ever despite such strong overall numbers and all those 4Q leads? Try naming another QB to fit the bill.

"What about his other losses? What were the unlucky things that cost him the game against Tennessee, or the game from 2000 against Miami? Vanderjagt missed a long FG, but long field goal attempts don't count when Brady does it, remember?"

If you watched the NFL Films' produced Game of the Week version of that 99 Titans game, it's basically a 45-minute production of "the Colts thought they had a play, but it didn't go their way."

Here's an old article that talks about the dropped passes (there were 7 of them) and "few breaks" going Indy's way - http://enquirer.com/columns/sullivan/2000/01/17/ts_manning_not_yet.html

That was written long before Peyton was the QB we know him as now, but any impartial analysis of that game will tell you he played fine, but nothing went Indy's way. The fake spike getting blown dead before halftime is a great example. In the third quarter, the Colts had a 4th-and-1 play they prepared for that week, but the refs blew it dead for a false start that really ticked off Mora.

Down 16-9 in the 4th quarter, I've pulled through research that Jerome Pathon dropped a pass on 3rd-and-10, though I don't know the ALEX there. The Colts just missed an 87-yard punt return after Terrence Wilkins' foot was out of bounds upon review. A false start and holding penalty led to a 3rd-and-22 where Manning threw a good pass under pressure to Marvin Harrison for about a 30-yard gain, but he dropped the ball, the biggest drop of the day. The Titans went up 19-9 with 4:19 left and that was basically the ballgame.

2000 Dolphins - this game is like the litmus test for how much people really know about old Manning playoff games. Colts tried a fake FG instead of a 46-yd FG that failed, costing them 3 points. Jerome Pathon dropped a TD on 3rd-and-goal that was so easy the announcer even called for the TD before having to correct the call of a drop, costing the Colts 4 more points as they settled for a FG. Harrison dropped a pass on 3rd-and-2 to end a 3Q drive, and was later flagged for OPI to wipe out a 38-yard catch. In OT, the Colts could have taken an offsides penalty to have a 3rd-and-7, but Vanderjagt told Mora he could make the FG, so they let him try it. He shanked that 49-yard FG in epic fashion. The Colts never got the ball back as Lamar Smith put them away with a TD run. So when someone says Manning only put up 17 points, you know they know nothing about the game besides the box score.

ramirez could not have done a worse job of understanding my point about the field goals. A 49-yard field goal in Miami is not an improbable kick. A field goal of 45-46 yards, especially following the Tuck Rule or just a 13-yard drive, in the weather conditions in NE was improbable and those drives do not speak as well of Brady. He of course had his kicker come through while Manning's blew it. Again, out of the QB's control, but the W-L record completely ignores this.

"What about the 41-0 loss to the Jets? I guess Peyton got REALLY unlucky in that one."

Actually, he kind of did. This game snowballed quickly because Manning's team never showed up, much like SB 48 really. But let's look at that beginning.

Colts down 7-0 on their second drive. Manning hits a few passes, suffers 3 drops and sets up Vanderjagt for a 41-yard field goal. Normal stuff in the 1Q. You're fine with a 7-3 game, but Vanderjagt misses the field goal. The next time Manning takes the field, the score is 17-0 Jets due to a double score with a fumbled kick return by Indy in between. About the only other time I've seen something like this in a playoff game was when it happened to Andrew Luck (go figure) against the Chiefs in 2013. And yeah, Manning still had a poor game, but it was another game where his receivers dropped 8 passes and just never had much of a chance. He threw the first two picks of his playoff career -- down 34-0 and 41-0 in the 4Q.

"The 2003 loss to NE? Manning threw 4 picks. When other QBs do that, theyre ripped apart for playing terribly. But when Peyton throws 4 picks, he's "unlucky".

One of the worst games of Manning's career, and yet since Brady didn't play well, it was still just 21-14 with the Colts having the ball and 2:01 left. How many games do you watch where the NFL admits defensive holding should have been called on 3rd down and DPI on 4th down? That's what happened here, and that's why illegal contact was given a strong reinforcement in 2004. I doubt Peyton would have tied the game there, but you can't say he was given a fair shake on this drive.

"What about the 2004 loss to the Pats, when one of the highest scoring teams in NFL history scored an embarrassing 3 points?"

Don't feel like getting into the specifics of that one, but QB play was not a deciding factor in that game. It was about the trenches and running game.

"In the 2007 loss to the Chargers, Manning played much better, but I still don't see what was unlucky about it."

Do you see the game or do you see the box score? Two interceptions off the hands of your own receivers would be deemed unlucky by most, especially when one is right near the goal line to Kenton Keith and Eric Weddle ends up catching it with one hand while being blocked. Those were huge. It's also ridiculous that backup Billy Volek went right down the field for the GW TD drive against a supposed top defense. The final kicker was the last drive. Wayne and Clark dropped passes on 3rd-and-5 and 4th-and-5. Wayne was hit hard on a good defensive play, so say what you want, but Clark let the 4th-down pass go right off his head. A terrible drop, and game over.

"In the Saints Super Bowl, Manning blew a chance to win the game by throwing a pick six. That's not bad luck."

You mean to tie the game. Pierre Garcon's 3rd-down drop and the surprise onside kick flub by Hank Baskett led to that lone big mistake from Manning.

"I think he was a little unlucky to lose to the Jets in 2010, but if you're not going to give credit to Brady for game winning Vinatieri FGs, you can't give Manning credit for one, either. You can't have it both ways."

2nd game in playoff history where a team took a lead in the final minute and lost. Only other ones have been the Music City Miracle and 2012 SEA-ATL. And again, you totally miss the point that I'm not impressed with what Brady did to set Vinatieri up against the Raiders and Titans.

Somehow you'll pass this all off as excuses when I'm just giving you the explanations for these games. When it comes to writing a recap or charting, I use the same methods for every team every week. I call a spade a spade. If Brady's receiver drops a big 4th-down pass, I'm going to tell you about it. But I can't make stuff up out of thin air. When you look at the actual game results, it is hard not to conclude anything but Manning has had terrible contributions from his teammates in high-leverage situations.

"Good times for a change
see, the luck I've had
can make a good man
turn bad

So please please please
let me, let me, let me
let me get what I want
this time"

219 Re: ESPN: Manning's Playoff Career Worthy of More Respect

Don't feel like getting into the specifics of that one, but QB play was not a deciding factor in that game. It was about the trenches and running game.

Didn't Indy's receivers have a bunch of drops that game, too?

You mean to tie the game. Pierre Garcon's 3rd-down drop and the surprise onside kick flub by Hank Baskett led to that lone big mistake from Manning.

Also, right before the end of the 1st half, Colts stop Saints at goal line, but Caldwell goes uber-conservative and doesn't let Manning throw -> 3-and-out -> short-field for Saints -> FG

220 Re: ESPN: Manning's Playoff Career Worthy of More Respect

Yes, there were six drops in the 20-3 IND-NE game. Four of them were early, including two third downs. Hell, Troy Brown defensed a pass away from Brandon Stokley. Colts had the ball 10 times and Rhodes and Wayne lost fumbles. Manning's only turnover came in final seconds with 17-point deficit. Even Kevin Faulk outrushed Edge, and of course Corey Dillon was excellent.

221 Re: ESPN: Manning's Playoff Career Worthy of More Respect

Aaron even said that that game wasn't on Peyton. It was a collapse across the board. Something that got lost in all those pats games - the other side of the ball was generally a close match. Even in the afc champ game in 06 - one of the tds came from a pick six, another was set up by a very long kick return by gaffney. Bob sanders also dropped an int on earlier drive(though, in fairness, that brady screamed at the receiver so it might have been a miscommunication). It was a solid defensive effort all things considered.

223 Re: ESPN: Manning's Playoff Career Worthy of More Respect

Scott, clearly you've studied Manning's playoffs starts more than me and possibly more than anyone that doesn't work in the NFL, and you are resolved that Manning was unlucky. I feel that I am open to being convinced that Manning had poor playoff luck, but this post doesn't move my opinion on that resolution for a few reasons.

First, I don't think statements like "So it's just common sense that Manning has had the most bad luck," will be effective on an analytics website. You seem to have the germ of an analytical argument in the rest of that paragraph, but I think starting off an argument with "So it's just common sense..." will poison the well for readers who aren't already convinced of your point. Furthermore, possibilities other than "Manning's luck has been poor" can answer your rhetorical question.

Second, listing poor plays by teammates does not tell you anything about Manning's luck without some reference to compare it to. You list a whole bunch of drops by teammates, but you haven't told us what the expected drop rate should be. What's the drop rate of other quarterbacks in the playoffs? What's the drop rate of Peyton Manning's receivers under other conditions? Your argument doesn't carry any weight until you make these comparisons.

Third, the overwhelming majority of what you call unlucky plays for Peyton Manning are offensive plays. It's very hard to decouple the quarterback's performance from the rest of the offense. Most of the time the receiver and the quarterback share blame on drops. Of course, there are some drops on which we'd assign the blame entirely to the receiver. For example, you describe Dallas Clark's 4th down drop as "terrible" so maybe that's one we'd assign entirely to Clark. Even so, that doesn't mean Manning necessarily has no influence on the catch other than throwing a perfect ball. Maybe Clark would have caught it if Manning had told Clark on the sideline to be ready for such and such play because we'll probably go to you on 4th down if that comes up. Maybe Clark was nervous and Manning could have settled him down by pointing out John Candy in the stands. Of course, this is pure speculation, but I'm trying to show how the quarterback is the leader of the offense and has some responsibility for every aspect of it.

Like I said above, I think you're much more likely to be able to rehabilitate Manning's playoff image by trying to show that his defenses were subpar. Although Manning has some say as to what field position his defense is put in, I think it's clear we can't assign blame to him for poor defensive play. So something you could try is calculating the expected points for opponents based on actual starting field position, but using an average playoff defense (you'd probably need to be careful about dome/outdoors since Manning played so many games in domes), and then comparing that with what Manning's defense actually gave up.

It's clear to me that you're very passionate about this subject, but I think it will serve you best to try to be as detached as possible when making your case. It will be harder for people to accept your results, even if the results are true, if some partiality shows in your arguments. I point this out because a couple people in this thread have accused you of bias, and I think your conversion rate will be better if you come off as impartial. I know that's especially hard for subject like sports, but the thing I like about this website is that it looks at sports analytically, and to me that means dispassionately (or at least as dispassionately as possible).

227 Re: ESPN: Manning's Playoff Career Worthy of More Respect

You made some good points here. My biggest problem is this stuff has been so ingrained for me it's like knowing the multiplication tables, and I expect too much from other people to know the ins and outs of games from years ago. So I get frustrated when someone says "What do you mean the 2000 Miami game was unlucky?" because to me it looks clear that that person does not know much about that game. If they did, we wouldn't have to talk about it like this. And I don't think people should speak so definitively about games they don't know much about. I sure don't try to be a know-it-all about playoff games involving Roger Staubach and Terry Bradshaw, because I don't even have the gamebooks from those games, let alone a full video copy.

228 Re: ESPN: Manning's Playoff Career Worthy of More Respect

Yeah. I think to really do this topic justice, it'd probably be a book length endeavor. You'd probably want to include game stills to show things like that the drops are really on the receivers. Even better would be to show the game clips, but of course you wouldn't be able to make that into a printable book. Not sure if you could get rights to those or if there would be enough interest to justify the effort, but maybe there'd be a market for it in five or so years when Manning is inducted into the Hall.

222 Re: ESPN: Manning's Playoff Career Worthy of More Respect

I've read this kind of stuff from Scott before. This is what he has devoted his career to, making excuses for Peyton's failures, and tearing down all of Brady's achievements. Seriously Scott, when have you EVER given Brady credit for a playoff win?

What's really incredible to me is that Kacsmar wants to give Manning the lion's share of the credit when his teams succeed, but then shifts blame whenever things go badly. I can't even fathom how he can say that Manning didn't contribute heavily to the 41-0 defeat to the Jets, or the SB loss to Seattle. Scott wants you to believe that when Manning suffers incompletions, it's always a drop by the receiver, but this isn't true. Why couldn't Manning, with a 15-0 deficit early in SB 48, lead his team back? They didn't even score until garbage time. Since Scott didn't talk about the 20-3 game from Jan 2005, here are the Colts drive results:

3 and out
3 and out
punt
3 and out
fumble lost
field goal
punt
punt
fumble lost
Interception

I won't blame Manning for the fumbles lost, which are on his receivers. But how does the rest of that suggest to you that Manning played well? The Colts only crossed midfield five times all game, and this was one of the highest scoring teams in NFL history! I can only imagine what Kacsmar would say if Brady put forward a similar performance.

Now I still can't get Scott to address the original point I was making when I first posted in this forum. He's claiming that Brady's strong performances down the stretch against Oakland and San Diego don't count, because Brady caught breaks before leading the comebacks. So how can Scott justify counting Manning's performance against the Patriots in 2006 as a great comeback? Before Manning led the comeback at the end of the game, the Colts had a fumble recovery by a lineman for a TD, and Caldwell dropped an easy TD in the end zone for NE. So if Scott was consistent, he would apply the same standard to Manning that he applies to Brady, and he would declare that Manning's comeback didn't help the evaluation of Manning's career.

But Scott can't be consistent, and that's his problem. When Brady catches a break and then leads a comeback, Scott says he's overrated. When Manning catches breaks, and then leads a comeback, Scott says he gets credit for the comeback. How can you justify that blatant and unfair double standard?

Scott also rips Brady for the Tuck Rule call. If Scott is saying that that call invalidates Brady's comeback against Oakland, then how come he's willing to give Manning credit for his play down the stretch from the Jan 2006 game against Pittsburgh? Manning threw an INT that looked like it had clinched the game for Pittsburgh, but the officials inexplicably ruled that it was incomplete. The league office later admitted the refs blew the call. Again, if Scott was consistent, he would say that manning's near-comeback after that call doesn't count, because there's no way it's still a close game in the final minute without that blown call on the INT, and the later Bettis fumble.

Scott also says that we should really credit Manning for the play from Jan 2007 when Saturday recovered the fumble in the end zone, because he had gotten the Colts to the one yard line. So does Scott give Brady credit for the play in the same game, when Mankins also recovered a fumble in the end zone, on the premise that Brady got his team near the goal line? Of course not.

Scott isn't interested in the facts. He's interested in manipulating the facts, to make Manning look good, and make Brady look overrated. The fact that someone with as little integrity as Kacsmar is taken seriously as a journalist, and allowed to be a member of the pro football writers association, shows how low the standards for those things actually are.

If you're not going to address my points about applying fair standards to both Brady and Manning, don't bother responding again.

224 Re: ESPN: Manning's Playoff Career Worthy of More Respect

The main problem I have here is that I think Scott has the correct answers, but he isn't honest and objective in his analysis to get there.

I think it's probably true to say that Manning is the unluckiest playoff QB in history, and that Brady has had more good luck than bad luck. But it's poor analysis to simply list examples of Manning's bad luck and Brady's good luck rather than trying to objectively weigh good luck and bad luck for each. It's further poor to refuse Brady credit for the great QB he's been, even while acknowledging he's had more than a fair share of luck.

I think it's easy to show that Brady has had better defensive and special teams performances in the playoffs than Manning has, but it's not honest to exclusively focus on games where Manning's team let him down and games where Brady's didn't. And I don't think it's fair to Brady not to consider that especially his earlier teams spent considerably fewer resources on offensive weapons compared to other areas of the team.

I think Peyton Manning has been an incredible quarterback, and deserves more appreciation. But this isn't the way to do it. It is the closed mindedness and bias that I hoped Football Outsiders avoided.

230 Re: ESPN: Manning's Playoff Career Worthy of More Respect

Great post, though I'm not convinced Scott is correct... or if he is, if it is all that big a factor.

For instance, would it be bad luck if Manning had to face a clearly superior team on the road with his #3LT, #2LG, #2C, #2RG and #2RT? Or that his team was taking control at the end of the first half before his RB fumbled?

How about if he had to play on an ankle so shredded he still wasn't fully practicing 6 months later and his OL conveniently crapped the bed? Or if he somehow scored a go ahead TD only to watch the defense give it up?

How about if his defense gave up a 21-3 lead partially because a couple dozen teammates were suffering from the flu?

Or how about if his best weapon - a person who just had the most dominant season at his position in the history of the league - got hurt for the super bowl? And despite his absence, as well as the fact that the opponent recovered both fumbles, he was a dropped pass away from winning the game?

Would those be used as examples of Manning's bad luck? Would a game winning FG be considered good luck if the same placekicker missed two attempts earlier and the defense blew two 4th quarter leads?

Call me crazy, but I suspect the answers to these questions depend largely on which QB we are talking about.

225 Re: ESPN: Manning's Playoff Career Worthy of More Respect

On a different note, I'm not sure why so many here are giving so much weight to clutch situations in evaluating QBs when there isn't much proof that "clutch" performance exists and that players perform differently in clutch situations than other ones. Shouldn't quarterbacks be evaluated on the entire body of work, of which clutch situations are just a small part?

232 Re: ESPN: Manning's Playoff Career Worthy of More Respect

Score one for PM, the Broncos and fanboys! But seriously congratulations to PM and the Broncos (and to the Panthers as well). Good luck on the SB, I suspect that the Broncos will need that against the Panthers seeing how they are playing right now.