Peyton's Place: Taking a Look at No. 18's Season Thus Far

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Peyton's Place: Taking a Look at No. 18's Season Thus Far
(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

The Kool-Aid is being passed around, and I just might have some this time around. For years I had told others, that Peyton just wasn’t the best QB in the NFL and to put the drink down.

Really? Peyton Manning is off to the best start of one of the greatest careers in NFL lore. And it's hard to vote against the man winning his record fourth MVP award. Manning, a nine-time Pro Bowler, has thrown for over 300 yards in each of his first four games and has done it with relative ease.

This is the longest streak of his illustrious career and a Colts record but these things are quite trivial when compared to the man’s body of work as a QB. Could it be? Could it be that Peyton is not only cementing his legend in NFL lore, but quite possibly proving that he is one of the greatest QB’s of all time.

It cant be too early to talk about this stuff right?

We’ve seen this before haven’t we?

The answer to those two questions is yes it is far too early to crown Manning MVP, and we’ve all seen it before. I could have sworn I saw you in the same room when the very same waiter passed us back in 2003, when Manning won co-MVP with McNair. Sure he was great then wasn’t he? 

Over 4,000 yards and 29 TDs we gave the man his due, but let's see him do it again before we crown the man right? And in AFC title game, Manning threw an absolute dud posting up a passer rating of 35.5. Yep, let's see this guy next year and we’ll see what happens. I’ll pass on the Kool-Aid thanks.

Then rolled along 2004 where Manning threw for over 4,500 yards and sported a 121 QB rating with 49 TDs. Whoa! now these are some Madden video game type numbers! Surely the Colts can’t be beat, I mean 49 TDs who could possibly stop these guys?

And then came the cold splash of reality dished out by the Patriots where Manning looked lost, confused and dumbfounded. Instead of proving himself, now we think the guy can't win the big one. That perhaps Peyton lacked that one thing, the intangible “it” that the greats must have. If I didn’t drink last year, I wont be drinking this one either.

The next year the Colts came out fast and determined as they steadily tacked on the points, posting a 13-0 record. The first of those victories was gained in convincing fashion against their nemesis the New England Patriots 40-21. Peyton didn’t throw for over 4,000 yards for the first time since his rookie season, not due to performance but rather due to sitting out most of the later half of the season.

Home field advantage and the division title, the Colts hosted the Pittsburgh Steelers and looked to ride Peyton’s arm deep into the playoffs. One tackle by Roethlisberger, a missed Vanderjagt field goal later, and once again the Colts fell short.

In 2006 I almost dismissed the Colts at that stage, Manning hadn’t won when it counted and there wasn’t much evidence to show that he would change anytime soon. The Colts won the AFC South again, but this time, I wasn’t fooled I told myself.

Yeah, great fantasy numbers, but why not victories when it counts?  If you couldn’t win last year, with home field advantage and that awesome offense and such a great regular season, then how could you do it this year?

Victories over the Chiefs and Ravens and here came the Patriots again, looking to head to the Super Bowl again with a victory over the Colts…again. 21 points later and the Patriots were up and all the Colts could muster was a field goal. I think I’ve seen this movie before right? it’s a sequel?

But shockingly, surprisingly, Peyton struck back leading the comeback to defeat the Pats and in doing so set a record for largest deficit ever overcome in a conference championship.

The Bears could not stop the Peyton Express that year and Manning finally won his elusive championship along with being named Super Bowl MVP. There would be no further questions, no further snide mutters, no further derision of Peyton’s inability to win a championship.

You have all heard the clichés that the game slows down for players, things become slower and they have adjusted to playing at a very high level. For Manning this year, he just might be able to stop time completely.

With a host of new targets in Austin Collie, Pierre Garcon, and Donald Brown, the departure of Tony Dungy, no more Marvin Harrison to throw to, it almost seemed as though this might be the beginning of the end. Instead Peyton has shown that he’s not only one of the greatest QB’s in the league, but he’s getting better.

The season is far from over true, and Manning has a lot of TDs and yards to throw for before this 2009 season even blips on his career resume. But at this continued rate, you cant help but admire the drive, passion and excellence that you almost come to expect from Peyton Manning.

It's almost comical, but his achievements and his career are such that this type of hot start doesn’t even register to most fans. This is how great of a quarterback Manning has been over his great career.

Who knows how his story will end, how many yards, how many TDs and how many championships will be his once he hangs them up. But the next time the Kool-Aid is passed around, I just might have some and come back for seconds.

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