Monday, February 8, 2010

The Manning Who [didn't] Choked Away the Superbowl

Today, the discussion in the media regarding the Manning INT is all about how great a read Tracy Porter made, and how Peyton Manning has [in some cases "yet again] blown it in the clutch in the big game. Throwing the INT on a late 4th quarter, game-tying (saving?) drive, is certainly damning evidence.

The problem is, it's surface perspective only, and doesn't tell you the real story...that Manning isn't at fault for that INT, and didn't choke this Superbowl away with that throw.

Disclaimer - I'm not an NFL coach, so realize that I have no true experience breaking down game tape or telling anyone the precise technical nature of the game. All I can do is tell you what I saw, upon repeated viewings, and what I believe based on what I saw.

Porter is getting a lot of credit for making a great play. But I'm not sure he's getting enough credit for how great it truly was. Manning is getting much of the blame for throwing the INT. I don't think he deserves any of it. If anyone on the Colts deserves any blame for the pick, it's Reggie Wayne.

I saw a great angle on one of ESPN/NFLN (I was flipping between the two for about two hours post-game last night) which showed what looked almost like a coach's tape view of the play...virtually the entire field was shown. This was a terrific angle, and I wish I'd grabbed it on TiVo to keep to watch more than the couple times I flipped back through it last night.

The timing of the three players is what's critical. After the snap, as Manning drops, Wayne begins what looks like a go route, headed straight up-field. Manning appears to be reading the whole left/center side of the field on drop-back. It looks to me as though he begins his throwing motion prior to Wayne breaking off and cutting in. At this point, Porter isn't breaking on the ball. Porter in fact looks to be back-pedalling, probably ready to pivot and run, giving Wayne cushion to run the route with him as there didn't appear to be much help over the top if Wayne broke straight.

As Manning is in throwing motion, Wayne stutters his feet. His strides get noticably shorter, PRIOR to his breaking off and cutting in. This looked to me to be the key to the play, because the moment this stutter begins, Porter plants to stop the back-pedal, and breaks on the ball. By the time Wayne has begun his cut, Porter has begun his break, Manning is letting the ball go...and the game has been decided.

Many of the defensive backs and wide receivers converted to analysts - Deion Sanders, John Lynch, Michael Irvin, etc - seem to be giving Porter the credit he deserves. I heard a few mentions of how much preparation plays into making a play like that. Many others have paid lip-service to how Manning blew it by throwing the critical interception that sealed the game. I've heard at least as many uses of the term "choke" for Manning as I've heard "preparation" for Porter.

To me, it's a shame. While Manning's had his share of "choke" moments in playoff games in the past, he actually played a very good game last night. I don't think he deserves the heat he's taken for that INT. His receivers actually cost him badly last night. Not just in Wayne's telegraphing the throw, but his drop of the 4th down attempt that could have pulled them within 7 to lead to an onsides kick with 44 seconds left, and Garcon's 3rd down drop in the second quarter, after which Manning only got 5 more possessions in over 40 minutes of game-time and were outscored 28-7.

Manning, to me, doesn't deserve the criticism he's receiving from the pick.


  1. Esp as this Indy team is like a 6 or 7 win team without him. I didn't watch the Jets game, but he was brilliant against the Ravens.

  2. You think they'd get 6 with Sorgi and Painter?

    How about 3-13.

  3. Chris--interesting you posted this. I didn't notice the footwork that you called out, but it sure looked to me on the replay that Wayne just dogged that route. Maybe it was because Porter had such a great break, but I think Wayne was more spectator than participant on that play.

    Mix that in with the ball that went right off Wayne's hands in the end zone at the end of the game, and he's a perfect candidate for the Goat Ball of the game.


About This Blog

Twitter: oblong_spheroid

  © Blogger templates The Professional Template by 2008

Back to TOP