In an incredibly unlikely 18-15 comeback win on the road against the Minnesota Vikings Sunday afternoon, Peyton Manning proved once again why he's the best in the NFL, and perhaps the best to ever play the game.
These first two weeks, Manning, on a tight knee, has been given a patchwork offensive line that is charitably described as disappointing. With second-year LT Tony Ugoh going down early with a groin injury, Manning's protection, or lack thereof, came courtesy of two rookies, two third-rate backups, and RT Ryan Diem, arguably one of the weaker regular starters along the Colts' line.
Line play improved only marginally during this game, but this was a tale of two completely different halves. The Colts simply could not run block, and Manning knew it, so he did what he has done so many times before since breathing life into this once-dead franchise 10 years ago—he took the team on his shoulders.
Few, if any, quarterbacks in history have done more with less help on the defensive side of the ball than Peyton Manning. The Colts regularly found themselves in shootouts during the first two-thirds or so of Manning's career, and it is only in the last few years that the defensive philosophy of Tony Dungy has finally begun to take hold in Indianapolis. Since the midway point of last season, however, Manning has shown an unexpected ability to win games with dismal blocking up front.
So many continually forget that football is a team game, and that championships are won by great teams. The Colts were not a great team until the last four or five years, but they remained an excellent offense on the strength of Peyton Manning's incredible ability to move the ball through sheer force of will.
Manning's "field offensive coordinator" routine was a revolution in NFL quarterback play, and one that he rarely gets credit for. Any solid game-managing quarterback can execute plays (I'm looking at you, Tom Brady—ain't karma a b#@%$?), but it takes a true offensive genius to control an entire offense and move the ball at will.
Peyton Manning has proven time and again his ability to do so, despite incredible pressure, illogical hatred and criticism, and the constantly moving goal posts of expectation.