Eli Manning's Win over Aaron Rodgers Exposes the Flaw of Valuing Playoff Success

Ryan MichaelSenior Writer IIIJanuary 16, 2012

GREEN BAY, WI - DECEMBER 26:  Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers is congratulated by Eli Manning #10 of the New York Giants after their game at Lambeau Field on December 26, 2010 in Green Bay, Wisconsin.  (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

With a 37-20 victory over Aaron Rodgers' Green Bay Packers, Eli Manning and the New York Giants will advance to the NFC Championship game for the second time in five years.

In 19 postseason games at Lambeau Field, the Packers have only lost four times; two of those losses came at the hands of Manning and the Giants.

Suffice to say that Sunday's defeat was an upset.

Perhaps even more surprising is that Eli Manning outperformed Aaron Rodgers in every statistical passing category.

Eli Manning:

21 of 33 (63.6) for 330 yards (10.0-YPA), three touchdowns and one interception.

114.5 passer rating.

Aaron Rodgers:

26 of 46 (56.5) for 264 yards (5.7-YPA), two touchdowns and one interception.

78.5 passer rating.

Eli was more accurate (higher completion percentage), more efficient (higher YPA-average) and more productive (more yards and touchdown passes with 13 fewer attempts).

Many NFL fans have adopted the belief that postseason performance is the true measuring stick of greatness.

More alarmingly, it has sometimes been taken to the extent that nonsensical phrases the likes of "stats are for losers" and "the postseason is the only time that matters” have been spoken out as apparent truth.

These are extremes, of course, but they have nevertheless managed to work their way into the general public's collective conscience.

It's a logic that has been fundamentally flawed since its inception and it has brainwashed the masses into over-valuing the importance of postseason success.

Hear me out on this one.

If "big numbers" are to take a backseat to quarterbacks who "get the job done," then that very logic would imply that Eli Manning has had a better 2011 season than Aaron Rodgers. With as much credit as Eli deserves for maturing as both a passer and as a leader, I do not agree with the aforementioned belief system.


Eli Manning (2011 Regular Season):

359 of 589 (61.0) for 4,933 yards (8.4-YPA), 29 touchdowns and 16 interceptions.

92.9 passer rating.

Aaron Rodgers (2011 Regular Season):

343 of 502 (68.3) for 4,646 yards (9.2-YPA), 45 touchdowns and six interceptions.

122.5 passer rating.

If one were to sensibly evaluate the season in totality, there is no question that despite Eli's fantastic year, Aaron Rodgers has performed at a higher level. Not only that, but Rodgers had already helped lead the Packers to a 38-35 victory over the Giants in week thirteen.

Rodgers is guilty of losing on the wrong date of the calendar.

The Packers beat the Giants in the Meadowlands just as the Giants beat the Packers in Lambeau.

If "stats are for losers" and the only thing that matters is "getting the job done in the postseason," we would all have to concede that Manning is a better quarterback than Rodgers and that the Giants are a better team than the Packers.

But they're not.

Though Manning and the Giants deserve a great deal of credit for pulling off a quality postseason victory, the fact of the matter is that the better team lost.

The better quarterback lost.

This is why Peyton Manning will receive more MVP votes this year than Eli Manning.

This is why Aaron Rodgers will deservedly win the 2011 NFL MVP award.

To dispel the misconceptions at hand, all one has to do is compare Aaron Rodgers to Aaron Rodgers.

If "getting the job done" is a greater sign of quality quarterbacking than productive performance, we would all have to concede that Aaron Rodgers has regressed at the quarterback position and actually played better in 2010.

That is not to discredit his phenomenal postseason performance last year, but, again, if "getting the job done in the postseason" is the true measuring stick of greatness at the quarterback position, then Aaron Rodgers must be regressing.

Despite having one of the greatest seasons in NFL history, despite helping his Packers tie the 2004 Indianapolis Colts for most touchdown passes in a single-season (with 51), those "big numbers" would be useless without the "results" that come from postseason success.

I wholeheartedly disagree with that philosophy.

Not only has Aaron Rodgers progressed as a quarterback, but the Packers had a better season in 2011 than they did in 2010, regardless of their "one and done" performance in the postseason.

Rodgers and the Packers are not guilty of "regression," they're guilty of falling victim to losing on the wrong date of the calendar.

Just ask Tom Brady and the 2007 New England Patriots, who were unquestionably the best the NFL had to offer four years ago.

Yet the very argument for why Brady and Rodgers have attained elite quarterback status (rings) stands in direct opposition to the very reason why both have (in actuality) remained the best the NFL has to offer in spite of losing during "the only time that matters."

Ironic right?

Ryan Michael is a Senior Writer for Bleacher Report.

Professional inquiries can be directed to his email: bleacherreporter@yahoo.com

Follow him on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/#!/theryanmichael


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