The vulnerability started to show itself in the Conference game against the New York Jets, who took a 17-6 lead with two minutes left to go in the second quarter.
Manning managed to score a touchdown in the remaining two minutes to cut the lead to 17-13. Then the Colts offense scored 17 points in the second half to make the final score 30-17.
But that wasn't all there was to it, because the Colts defense shut down the Jets in the second half. With zippo, nada, not even a field goal...after having given up 17 points in the first half.
Because if there had been another 17 points for the Jets in the second half, the final score would have been 34-30, and the Colts would not have been the ones on top, Manning notwithstanding.
The Colts led the Super Bowl 17-16 after three quarters. Enough to win, but not to cover the five point spread, like I predicted in an earlier post.
Manning again, especially with that early fake pass that was really a draw play that took the Colts from the four yard line past the 20.
But the Saints scored 15 unanswered points in the fourth quarter, seven of them on a DEFENSIVE interception. No team has been down more than 10 and come back to win the Super Bowl. The 2009 Colts were no exception.
To expect Manning to produce two touchdowns in a quarter is expecting too much, especially against top flight opposition.
And with the benefit of hindsight, it WAS a good idea to pull Manning out of the season game against the New York Jets with a 15-10 lead—to find out what the rest of the team could do without him, which was not enough. The DEFENSE gave up 19 points for a 29-15 Jets victory.
The Colts have won a Super Bowl under Peyton Manning, and will certainly win more. Perhaps even under Manning.
But this was the Saints' year, not theirs.