Claremore Daily Progress

Sports

November 6, 2012

Manning now the all-time comeback king

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — It was early November in Cincinnati. The Broncos quarterback dropped back to pass, found a receiver open for a 30-yard gain.

Four plays later, Denver scored the winning touchdown and John Elway, in his 16th and final season, had the 39th game-winning drive of the 40 he would engineer in the fourth quarter or overtime.

Fast forward 15 years to another November day in Cincinnati. Elway runs the team from the front office and the quarterback he brought to Denver, Peyton Manning, directs a five-play, 80-yard drive that gives the Broncos the lead in the fourth quarter. It's his 48th game-winning drive. Manning now holds the NFL record in a category Elway once defined.

"I think he thrives on it,'' Broncos coach John Fox said. "I think most competitors do. They want the ball in their hands.''

He could have been speaking about Elway. In this case, he was speaking about Manning.

The quarterback's latest escape act, which included four completions, including one of his three scoring passes against the Bengals, was more efficient than dramatic, more just another touchdown drive than, say, The Drive.

Yet for all the gaudy numbers Manning is putting up this season - 2,404 yards, 20 touchdowns, the 108.6 passer rating - it's the three fourth-quarter game-winning drives, against Pittsburgh, San Diego and Cincinnati, that show what he's really all about.

"I think all football players, when the fourth quarter comes around, that's when the pressure's on, that's when you want to rely on your fundamentals and techniques,'' Manning said. "I think we can draw on this type of game.''

Though any NFL quarterback will take what Manning got Sunday - a win - it will not go down as one of his best statistical performances, mainly because of the two interceptions he threw, both of which contributed to a 14-point lead turning into a three-point deficit early in the fourth quarter.

There was no sense of panic, said tight end Jacob Tamme, who played with Manning for three years in Indianapolis.

"He takes responsibility when he does something he feels wasn't good enough and we all take responsibility when we do something we feel wasn't good enough,'' Tamme said. "That's how we operate as an offense. It was just kind of a sense of, let's go out there and do our job a little bit better and we'll win.''

They did. Eight minutes later, with the help of a Champ Bailey interception, Manning led another touchdown drive to make it 31-20. The Bengals kicked a field goal but didn't recover the ensuing onside kick.

"If you run into an adverse situation, it's no reason to get down,'' Bailey said. "You just keep playing ball. Keep going out and doing your job because you know you're going to have a chance. You see other players doing that on this team. There are a lot of leaders on this team.''

Top on the list: Manning.

After the slow start so many predicted for both the team and the quarterback, coming onto a new team and after missing a year while his surgically repaired neck healed, Manning is playing as well as he ever has.

Denver's schedule, meanwhile, has eased. Games against Houston, Atlanta and New England are in the rearview mirror. Only one team with a winning record remains on the schedule.

The Broncos head into the second half of the season on a three-game winning streak. They lead the AFC West at 5-3. Manning leads the NFL in completion percentage (69.5), average gain per attempt (8.23) and with that passer rating of more than 108. That last stat, loosely translated, means he's playing quarterback better than anyone in the NFL right now.

"In his case, every time he goes out there, he's got a chance to do something special,'' Fox said.

He's making memories in the fourth quarter - a time that used to belong to Elway in this city.

It was against the Colts in 1983 that Elway made his first comeback. From 19-0 down to a 21-19 win, with all the touchdowns coming in the fourth quarter.

After another particularly impressive comeback - two touchdowns over the last two minutes to beat the Chiefs 20-19 in 1992 - Elway said he never gave up, no matter how dire the situation: "No. When I think we've lost is when the game is over,'' he said.

With Manning at the helm, the impossible seems possible again in Denver. A 24-point deficit in San Diego turns into a 35-24 win that goes down as the first time a team has won by double digits after trailing by so much. A blown lead in Cincinnati turns into a 31-23 win that, somehow, feels routine.

Of course, nobody goes into a game hoping to need a comeback. But when things play out this way, Manning said, it's not such a bad thing.

"The more you can go through it as a unit, the more you can draw on it later in the season,'' he said. "Anytime you can win going through those scenarios, that's a plus.''

 

1
Text Only
Sports
  • DSC_0111web.jpg ‘Team behind the Team’

    For the second-straight year, the Claremore Zebra student training staff will be represented in the Oklahoma Coaches All-State games held in Tulsa.
    Meranda Golbek and Sarah Szcinski, a pair of 2014 Claremore High School graduates, earned All-State honors for their athletic training careers and will join two other student trainers from Jenks and Stillwater High School on the East squad.

    July 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • FISHFRYweb.jpg Claremore QB Club holds Fish Fry Aug. 2

    The Claremore Zebra Quarterback Club will hold its annual Fish Fry fundraiser on Aug. 2 at the Claremore High School cafeteria.

    July 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Fitzgerald: Union push unified Northwestern

    No matter how this season unfolds, Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald insisted there is no more unified team than his Wildcats.

    For that, he credits the push for them to unionize.

    July 29, 2014

  • NFL: Make or break season for Rams QB Bradford

    It's become a rite of training camp for Sam Bradford.

    Every summer, he deals with the oversized burden of living up to getting picked first overall in 2010. The St. Louis Rams quarterback is not surprised that once again, he's supposedly at a career crossroads.

    July 29, 2014

  • NFL: Fists flying in Philly

    This Philadelphia Eagles' defense won't be pushed around.

    For the second straight day at Philadelphia's training camp, a fight broke out between an offensive and defensive player. Cornerback Bradley Fletcher took on wide receiver Jeremy Maclin on Monday. Linebacker Trent Cole got into it with All-Pro running back LeSean McCoy a day earlier.

    July 29, 2014

  • NFL: Texans look to Fitzpatrick to solve QB woes

    The Houston Texans' biggest problem in their 2-14 season was inconsistent play at quarterback.

    Enter, Ryan Fitzpatrick. The veteran faces the big task of turning around an offense that did little right last year.

    July 29, 2014

  • NFL: Claiborne ready to prove his worth to Cowboys

    Morris Claiborne got on Terrance Williams' nerves the minute the competition started at training camp for the Dallas Cowboys.

    The third-year cornerback pulled and grabbed the receiver aggressively enough to prompt a heated, facemask-to-facemask exchange that ended with a shove.

    July 29, 2014

  • Randi Davis tabbed Arkansas softball pitching coach

    Head coach Mike Larabee has announced the addition of Randi Davis as an assistant coach for the University of Arkansas softball team. In her new role, she will serve as the Razorbacks’ pitching coach.

    Davis brings 12 years of previous softball experience including coaching at the NCAA Division I and III levels and Gold level, private instruction and consulting with various universities.

    July 29, 2014

  • Razorback Football Kickoff Luncheon set for Aug. 22

    The University of Arkansas' sixth annual Razorback Football Kickoff Luncheon on Aug. 22 will be presented by URETEK Capital. The media sponsors for the event will be KNWA, KFTA/Fox24 and Magic 107.9.

    July 29, 2014

  • NCAA settles head-injury suit, will change rules

    The NCAA agreed Tuesday to settle a class-action head-injury lawsuit by creating a $70 million fund to diagnose thousands of current and former college athletes to determine if they suffered brain trauma playing football, hockey, soccer and other contact sports.

    July 29, 2014