Is Peyton Manning Now "Clutch" & Tom Brady the "Choker" of NFL Postseason Play?

Ryan MichaelSenior Writer IIIJanuary 17, 2011

Peyton Manning's quarterback-rating over his past four playoff games is 100.6 in comparison to Tom Brady's 72.7;  but everyone outside of Indianapolis knows that "stats are for losers".
Peyton Manning's quarterback-rating over his past four playoff games is 100.6 in comparison to Tom Brady's 72.7; but everyone outside of Indianapolis knows that "stats are for losers".

One and done.

For both Peyton Manning and Tom Brady this season.

But did we really expect the Indianapolis Colts and their 29th ranked rushing-offense, 25th ranked rushing-defense, with 17 players hanging out in the injured reserve club, to beat a Jets team that ranked 4th in rushing-offense, 3rd in rushing-defense, with the aid of All-Pro "Wayne-remover" Darrelle Revis?

Okay, maybe some people were a little surprised, as they may have expected Peyton Manning to be able to overcome situations that Tom Brady would make look easy.

After all, Tom was "terrific" in 2010 wasn't he?

Brady posted the 5th highest single-season quarterback rating in NFL history, produced the lowest single-season interception-rate in NFL history, and went an astounding 338 consecutive passes during the regular season without throwing a pick.

Most pegged him for league MVP; didn't you?

But however good "Mr. Clutch" was during the meaningless regular season, we all knew that he was going to turn his performance up a few notches during January; the only time that really matters anyway.

Let me begin by saying that "stats are for losers"; and so are regular reason records, winning-percentages, and MVP trophies.

No doubt that the greatest quarterback of our generation (if not all-time) possessed all of the aforementioned at the end of the regular season; as if he honestly cared about trophy-room material anyway.

Tom needed to clear his mind of the regular season, forget about football during his self-earned week off, and not burden himself by devoting time to watch a pettily little wild card match between two teams he's beaten more times than I can count.

For those who question Brady's work-ethic (Rex Ryan anyone?), you're over-thinking something simplistic. Peyton Manning of all people came within two points of beating your Jets so suffice to say, Tom Brady had this divisional game in the bag.

But sometimes things...they just go bad.

Seems unexplainable, coincidence, something, I'm not sure of the answer.

Maybe it was Rex Ryan, the Jets defense, Darrelle Revis, the Pats running-game, Peyton Manning; but it just couldn't have been Tom Brady.

I'm so sick and tired of every Colts fan under the sun coming up with excuse, after excuse, after excuse, to try to justify their quarterback's underwhelming postseason performances.

"Manning has under two seconds to throw the ball before his frightened remains get thrown to the turf, Reggie Wayne leads the league in dropped-passes, our running-game is at the bottom of the league again, our defense lets opposing offenses run all over us, we have 17 players on the injured-reserve, etc..."

Oh my, will you guys just stop whining already?

The NFL has no room for excuses; and logical fans judge quarterbacks by results, not flashy numbers and NFL records; in case you didn’t know.

But what if...?

No, I can't go there.

What if just maybe, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady have both become choke-artists at this stage of their careers?

Perhaps time has passed them by and we should look ahead to players like Mark Sanchez; guys who can win in the postseason (none of this "one and done" business) and give their teams an opportunity to bring home the hardware.

Peyton Manning hasn't won a Super Bowl in four years.

Tom Brady hasn't won a Super Bowl in six years.

Six Years!?

Emmitt Smith was a Cardinal the last time Tom Brady was a champion.

I don't buy any of the "Spygate" flack either; sure Tom Brady's performance in the postseason has taken a drastic turn for the worse ever since Eric Mangini became a little snitch, but I just don't buy it.

Some Colts fans have even gone as far as to suggest that Manning has become pretty good during the postseason but, I don't really buy that one either.

I didn't know the "numbers", not off of the top of my head anyway.

But I'm sure if you asked the average NFL fan who they feel has been a better postseason quarterback as of late, they certainly wouldn't pick that guy from Indianapolis.

That’s funny!

But let’s see as neither Colts fans nor Patriots fans will have anything better to do this January...


Peyton Manning (2010 Wild Card vs. the New York Jets)

18 of 26 (69.2 percent) for 225 yards (8.7 YPA), one touchdown and zero interceptions.

Passer Rating: 108.7


Tom Brady (2010 Divisional Round vs. New York Jets)

29 of 45 (64.4 percent) for 299 yards (6.6 YPA), two touchdowns and one interception.

Passer Rating: 89.0


Okay, Manning may have been more accurate (higher completion-percentage), may have posted a much higher YPA average, and not turned the ball over at all, but his inflated passer-rating is more the product of happenstance than anything else if you ask me.

Tom Brady didn't have a Reggie Wayne to throw to against the Jets.

Colts fans will say that Manning didn’t either (that’s funny), but we all know that Wayne must’ve gotten open plenty of times; I just think that Manning refused to throw in his direction out of spite for that dropped touchdown during last year’s Super Bowl.

But that's just one game, it's a throw-away, as much as any other skewed statistic; let’s go back a little further...


Peyton Manning (last four postseason games)

105 of 154 (68.2) for 1,181 yards (7.7 YPA), seven touchdowns and two interceptions.

Passer Rating: 100.6


Tom Brady (last four postseason games)

103 of 168 (61.3) for 928 yards (5.5 YPA), seven touchdowns and seven interceptions.

Passer Rating: 72.7


Again, maybe Manning was tincy-wincy bit more accurate, had a little higher of a YPA average, and sure, he didn't throw quite as many interceptions but again; I think that fluke-game Brady played against Baltimore last postseason skewed his numbers just a bit.

He had three interceptions against a ferocious Ravens defense and I'm certain if Manning had to face those guys in the postseason, the same thing would have happened to him.

And let’s not forget that Brady was without Wes Welker: the day Peyton Manning loses a starting wide receiver and beats the Ravens defense in the playoffs, let me know.

At least I can take comfort in knowing that the past half a decade or so has been a fluke; nobody can ever take away Tom Terrific's three Super Bowl rings.

That's been the bread and butter of his whole career; and the NFL's most infamous choke-artist really does not belong in the same discussion.

Case closed.

Remember, Tom Brady won three Super Bowls in four years!

And he didn't have a Marvin Harrison to aid him during January either.


Peyton Manning (postseason career)

453 of 718 (63.1) for 5,389 yards (7.5 YPA), 29 touchdowns and 19 interceptions.

Passer Rating: 88.4


Tom Brady (postseason career)

424 of 682 (62.2) for 4,407 yards (6.5 YPA), 30 touchdowns and 16 interceptions.

Passer Rating: 85.7


You know, we've heard a lot to-do about YPA this season.

I don't claim to fully comprehend its significance; but is Manning's 7.5 to Brady's 6.5 really that big of a difference?

Like I said before, Tom Brady didn't have a big-play receiver like Marvin Harrison to help him produce in the postseason; I think that alone should make up for the difference.

And especially if we're talking recently, I think coaching plays a big factor as well.

Sure the production differential is staggering between Manning and Brady over their past four postseason games; but I see a MAJOR factor that I'm sure most people will overlook.

Bill Belichick was 41-56 as a head coach before Tom Brady become the Patriots' starter.

And I'm not afraid to say that, I just don't think Bill Belichick is that great of a coach.

Like Peyton Manning, he just screams “overrated”.

Belichick seems more like the type to live off the coattails of Tom Brady's contributions; and his record without Brady proves that point beyond a shadow of a doubt.

Without Tom Brady, Belichick would have been an average at best head coach; with the aid of Brady, people have been able to make him out to be some sort of football-genius!

That just goes to show how much of an impact Brady’s ability to win can have on the perception of others; and it’s a shame that some people still attempt to strip Brady of his just-due, and give the credit to his head coach.

"I disagree with Rex Ryan as I think with Belichick, there's a bit more of help from Tom Brady than there is with any other coach."

Some coaches don’t need that kind of help; they provide it.

Enter Jim Caldwell.

Sure Peyton Manning was a multiple-time Pro Bowl selection before his arrival; but he had no rings at the time and even less potential.

Manning had just come off a 6-10 season, and needed the guidance and leadership of a coach know knew the quarterback position inside and out.

In 2002, Jim Caldwell became Peyton Manning’s quarterback coach; and essentially taught him everything he now knows.

Don’t believe me?

Including both the regular and postseason since 2002, Manning has led the Colts to 118 victories; by far the most in NFL history over a nine-year span.

Who do you think taught him how to throw for all those yards and touchdowns; who do you think taught him how to read defenses?

Not Tony Dungy, he was always a defensive-minded coach.

The only explanation is Jim Caldwell because as soon as he arrived, Peyton Manning not only became the most productive player in NFL history but also managed to win more games in a nine-year span than any other quarterback in the 90-year history of the league.

So what do we have?

I know about the numbers and I’m sure that Colts fans will make a big to-do about Tom Brady’s recent postseason struggles; but they have to keep in mind that Brady has been forced to play with a losing head-coach who has lived off of Brady’s labors for years, and that he also lost a starting receiver prior to playing both of his last two playoff games (Welker in 2009 and Moss in 2010).

Peyton Manning’s Colts have been stocked to the brim with weapons recently, so of course he’s going to put up the big flashy numbers in the postseason.

If you look at what Tom Brady has been able to do with the talent he’s had to work with since 2007, I think it’s pretty clear who can do more with less.

Give Brady Manning’s weapons and Manning’s head coach…and he would have won seven or eight Super Bowls after the 2004 season, at least.

The article’s title asks “Is Peyton Manning Now "Clutch" and Tom Brady the "Choker" of NFL Postseason Play?” and if you ask me, I think the question should be reversed.

What matters is this…

Tom Brady led a Patriots team with many injuries to a 14-2 record.

Tom Brady is going to win the NFL MVP award this season.

One playoff loss which only accounted for under six-percent of the season, cannot take away all that Tom Brady was able to accomplish in 2010.

Colts fans may not be able to relate to what he’s going through; but if they could stop getting so caught up in all of their own misconceptions, maybe they’d understand why Tom Brady is still awesome.


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