Peyton Manning doesn’t go through many weeks of the NFL season without being applauded for his game day heroics. The level of consistency he shows in his passing each week is simply extraordinary.
Watching his film from Week 2, it gave me reason to applaud Manning for a very different reason: his selflessness was on full display.
Giants defensive coordinator Perry Fewell attempted to challenge Manning by playing a dime defense through most of the first half with six defensive backs and one linebacker — Michael Boley. Safety Deon Grant and cornerback Aaron Ross served as the extra defensive backs, and it was Ross’ assignment to shadow tight end Dallas Clark.
Manning recognized Fewell’s plan immediately, and the Colts went with two tight ends on 24 out of the 43 rushing snaps in the game. The extra tight end opposite Clark was rookie Brandon Eldridge, who Mike Mayock called the best blocking tight end in the draft.
Manning checked his ego at the door. Facing the small defensive front of the Giants, he called 23 run plays in the first half that gained 123 yards and a touchdown. The 43 rushes by the Colts represent the most attempts by a Manning-led offense in 13 seasons. Oh, and the Colts led 24-0 at the half.
The ultimate irony in this chess match was that while the Giants wanted to answer the Colts’ passing attack and limit Clark, Manning still found his talented tight end and beat Ross on a 50-yard touchdown off a play-action fake.
Whatever you design to stop Manning, he’ll figure out a way to counter-punch you, even if it means taking the ball out of his own hands.
– Brian Baldinger
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