Several times throughout this season, I evaluated Eli Manning's performance as a quarterback. This will be the final note for the year. I am tired of hearing the word elite. The guy is a Hall of Fame lock. Reggie Jackson is Mr. October and Eli Manning is, as Kenny Powers might put it, just a "man with a mind for victory and an arm like a fucking cannon". I can't say it better than that.
The first area of interest to me is Mr. Manning registered seven 4th quarter comebacks, along with eight game-winning drives. Six of these game-winning drives took place in the regular season, two in the postseason. Six of these took place on the road. His numbers?
(204 / 324) for 2,478 yards
Completion percentage: 63%
Yards per attempt: 7.65
Yards per game: 310
TD passes: 15
In tight games, Eli came up big in every way. For those who use the argument that certain quarterbacks simply play well from the start of the game, I point to the interception count and completion percentage. This is not a case of Eli playing poorly in three quarters and bailing himself out in the fourth. Eight games is a pretty good sample size too.
He's tied for 15th all-time in fourth quarter comebacks with 21 in his career. Many people say this is a garbage stat. I don't. No matter what circumstances put a team in a bad spot late in the game, a fourth quarter comeback indicates that you got the job done knowing your team had one, maybe two chances left. It's also a timeless stat. The game changes with every era, but the significance of winning the game in the final seconds does not.
Postseason play often defines a quarterback. This is a list of greats and how they played in the postseason.
Joe Montana (16-7) 45 TD / 21 INT / 251 YPG / 7.9 YPA
Tom Brady (16-6) 38 TD / 20 INT / 240 YPG / 6.7 YPA
John Elway (14-8) 27 TD / 21 INT / 226 YPG / 7.6 YPA
Peyton Manning (9-10) 29 TD / 19 INT / 284 YPG / 7.5 YPA
Dan Marino (8-10) 32 TD / 24 INT / 251 YPG / 6.6 YPA
Troy Aikman (11-5) 23 TD / 17 INT / 241 YPG / 7.7 YPA
Kurt Warner (9-4) 31 TD / 14 INT / 304 YPG / 8.6 YPA
It's a bit strange how similar the numbers are up and down the board. The only one who really jumps out statistically is Kurt Warner, with over 300 yards per game and 8 yards per attempt, along with more touchdown passes than Aikman, Elway, and Manning in much fewer games.
So, to put it in perspective:
Eli Manning (8-3) 17 TD / 8 INT / 229 YPG / 7.1 YPA
Three quarterbacks on the list have a TD/INT ratio greater than 2.0. They are:
Kurt Warner: 2.21
Joe Montana: 2.14
Eli Manning: 2.13
So, for Eli Manning, the body of work speaks for itself. The regular season numbers will catch up. Brady's didn't until the second half of his career. Eli is in the midst of building a legacy. And it's a great thing for us as fans to get to sit back and watch it unfold, especially given the dark ages between franchise quarterbacks (Simms retirement after the 1993 season sending us into a brutal period of nothingness at the position).
He's one hell of an interception machine, probably the greatest of all time.
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