Game Time: Peyton Manning Is The Best....Oh, No, Wait, He's The Worst

Nowadays, when it comes to sports observations, with the advent of the internet, Twitter, and the ability to pretty much watch any highlight or interview that we want to either on our computers or on television at any moment of the day, human nature is to overreact to everything, if for no other reason than overreacting is a lot more fun and potentially entertaining than assessing a player or situation logically.

And, in a sense, that explains the conundrum that Peyton Manning has dropped into our collective laps after hitting New Orleans Saints defensive back Tracy Porter between the numbers for a house call on Sunday night at the most crucial point of the biggest game of his career. In the week leading up to Super Bowl XLIV, it seemed as though everyone on "Radio Row" had already anointed Peyton Manning as the best quarterback of our generation (and by "our generation" I mean us forty-somethings, so going back as far as Bradshaw, Staubach, and quarterbacks of the `70's).

It was almost like because he has an uncanny ability to call his own game at the line of scrimmage and because he was breaking down film before he was potty trained, Peyton was allowed to go directly from elementary school to class valedictorian in high school without really having to take any classes or get "A's" on the most important tests. Basically, because the media is generally lazy when it comes to analysis and because this Super Bowl was so bereft of stories, "Peyton going 100 mph in the HOV lane to immortality" seemed like a good time waster for everyone. Even if it was far fetched, if not out-and-out false. Why let facts get in the way of a feel-good story? (Signed, "Brett Favre is a great big-game quarterback")

Indeed, what those casually dropping "best ever" on Manning were either ignoring or hoping you wouldn't notice were the following facts going into Sunday's game:

-- Before Super Bowl XLIV, Manning's post-season record was a very pedestrian 9-8, including losses to Jay Fiedler, Chad Pennington, a rookie Ben Roethlisberger, and two losses in the last three years to Philip Rivers, who was last seen losing to Mark Sanchez in this year's playoffs.

-- Manning threw sixteen interceptions this season for a 2.8 percent INT percentage, his highest totals in both categories since 2002, so the Tracy Porter pick-six should not be all that surprising.

-- Going into (and coming out of) Sunday's game, Manning was still three Super Bowl wins behind Montana and Bradshaw, and two behind Aikman and Brady. (He also remains tied with Trent Dilfer, Brad Johnson, and his brother, Eli.)

-- In his one Super Bowl win, Manning was fortunate enough to be playing opposite easily one of the ten worst quarterbacks to ever play in a Super Bowl in the Bears' Rex Grossman.

The Manning bandwagon failed to mention all of these things as they casually brushed Montana and Brady aside to let Peyton sit at the head of the class.

Now, to be clear, I'm not going all "2010 overreact mode" the other way; I'm not implying that Manning doesn't belong in a discussion of all-time great quarterbacks. To be even mentioned in that debate, the buy-in to me is a Super Bowl championship and he at least has accomplished that. (For the record, so now has Drew Brees, and that's heads-up against Peyton, so....hmmmm....)

The Colts haven't won fewer than twelve games in the regular season since 2002; they've been a model of consistency when it comes to being very, very good. They're a lock for the playoffs every year, but unfortunately for Indy fans almost as big a lock to be watching someone else hoist the Lombardi Trophy. Somewhere, Bobby Cox and the Atlanta Braves approve.

The playoffs in general, and the Super Bowl specifically, carry more weight. They just do. The fact is Manning is 1-2 in the playoffs against the other "all-time great" of his own era (Brady) and two Super Bowl wins behind him. Peyton Manning has compiled ungodly regular season numbers, and in the last few years has done so with a revolving door at the wide-receiver spots not named "Reggie Wayne." In short, Manning is a winninger (if that's a word) version of Dan Marino.

And on the list of the greatest of the Super Bowl generation, that's about where I'd put him --somewhere ahead of Marino and somewhere behind Montana, Brady, and Elway. And frankly, in a big game I'd rather have Bradshaw or Aikman.

"Greatest of all time." It's an interesting debate that, thanks to his year-in, year-out consistency, Peyton Manning makes relevant every year. Unfortunately, because of his inability to close in big games, it's an argument he's becoming less and less likely to eventually win.

Last Friday, in an effort to keep everyone engaged in a game they may not have had maximum interest in, I gave out a slew of prop bets (around $1,000 worth, to be exact) to keep your degenerate side stimulated. I'm a big enough man to go back and do a public report card on my picks, so let's see how it went....

Risk $165 to win $150 -- UNDER 56.5 TOTAL POINTS SCORED (-110)
WINNER $150 (48 points scored)

My exact quote in last Friday's post:

Both offenses are spectacular; the question becomes are the defenses good enough to "bend but not break" a few times in this game, giving up field goals instead of touchdowns three or four times. If they are, the under will get there.
The Saints had and made three field-goal attempts, the Colts had two (missing one). Even with a pick-six and some offensive fireworks in the second half, this one still went under, and was really never in doubt.

Risk $195 to win $150 -- OVER SAINTS 21.5 FIRST DOWNS (-130)
Risk $220 to win $200 -- OVER COLTS 23.5 FIRST DOWNS (-110):

BOTH LOSERS -$195 for Saints (20 first downs) and -$220 for the Colts (23
first downs)

My quote from Friday:

While both teams are equipped to win a shootout (hence, the 56.5 point
total), neither team wants to get into a shootout. Both will try to keep
the other team's offense on the sidelines with a short passing game, which
means two things -- first, it means long, time-consuming drives (good for
the under), and second, it means lots of first downs.
I had the style of game nailed to a tee, and came within an eyelash of hitting both of these. In fact, if Indy punches in that last touchdown drive with a minute left, that prop bet hits. (Touchdowns also count as first downs statistically.) If you don't think Vegas knows what they're doing, know that the prop-bet total for total first downs in the game was 43.5. There were 43 total in the game. Scary.

Risk $100 to win $72 -- OVER J ADDAI 2.5 RECEPTIONS (-140)
Risk $50 to win $50 -- OVER J ADDAI 18.5 YDS RECEIVING (+100)
Risk $100 to win $115 -- OVER D CLARK 6.5 RECEPTIONS (+115)

ALL WINNERS for a total of $237

My Friday quote:

Ball-control strategy by the Colts combined with the Saints trying to bring heat will mean lots of dump passes to the running backs and quick hitters to the tight end. Thus, I climb aboard the Addai and Clark Express.
Yep, pretty much. Addai had seven catches for 58 yards and Clark had seven catches for 86 yards and was the leading receiver in the game.

Risk $50 to win $50 -- OVER M COLSTON 5 RECEPTIONS (+100)

WINNER  $50*

Colston was the Saints leading receiver (seven catches for 83 yards) and had a stellar game other than one bad drop in the first half.

Risk $50 to win $350 -- FIRST TD OF GAME, D CLARK (+700)
LOSER -$50 (Pierre Garcon was the winner.)

Risk $50 to win $70 -- LONGEST SCORE OF THE GAME -- Field Goal (+140)
LOSER -$50*

This one was looking great with a 47-yard first-half field goal meaning I could only lose on a touchdown longer than 47 yards, so I was golden pretty much every time a team moved the ball past mid field....then Tracy Porter happened. Dammit.

Risk $10 to win $300 -- LAST TD OF GAME, C SIMPSON (+3,000):
LOSER -$10 (Field would have been the winner on the Porter pick-six.)


Oh yeah, almost forgot the one wager I didn't make....

Risk $0 to win $0 -- FINAL SCORE PREDICTION -- SAINTS 27, COLTS 23

WINNER, and of course I had nothing on exact quote from Friday....

Oh by the way, as far as a final score of the game goes...too many people
are on the Colts and talking about Peyton in the same breath with Joe
Montana, even though Peyton is still three Super Bowls behind him. Bad
karma. Katrina gets exposed for the ruthless whore that she was....
Katrina was a dirty whore, and in the end she lost. Who dat.

Listen to Sean Pendergast on 1560 The Game from 3-7 p.m. weekdays on the Sean & John Show, and follow him on Twitter at

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Sean Pendergast is a contributing freelance writer who covers Houston area sports daily in the News section, with periodic columns and features, as well. He also hosts afternoon drive on SportsRadio 610, as well as the post game show for the Houston Texans.
Contact: Sean Pendergast