The Peyton Manning Award for Worst Performance in a Playoff Game
With apologies to Tom Brady, who was uncharacteristically sloppy for two straight weeks and made the single-worst throw of his career (the pick to Champ Bailey), I still think Manning gets this award for his Tony Eason impersonation against the Steelers. More than everything else, quarterbacks need to come through in the clutch, carry themselves like the coolest guys on the field, inspire confidence in their teammates (no matter how bleak the situation), respect the coach's decisions and be quality teammates even in the face of adversity. Manning did none of these things on Sunday. And I'm not sure even A-Rod would have muttered the "I'm trying to be a good teammate" line. Some guys rise to the occasion in big games, some guys shrink from the occasion. He's one of the shrinkers. But if you're playing a 2-10 Lions team on Thanksgiving with three days to prepare, he's your guy.
OK, me now: Remember, he waved the punting unit off during that game on a 4th and 2 (the second time that season that he had directly disobeyed Dungy, who happens to be his coach). And the subsequent press conference was a train wreck in terms of Peyton's already low likeability. The "I'm trying to be a good teammate" statement, followed by a 3-4 minute stretch of him throwing his O-Line under the bus was just plain wrong. Can you imagine Joe Montana, John Elway or even Tom Brady doing something like that? You address issues like that behind closed doors, not in front of the worldwide media. And before anyone plays the "he was frustrated immediately following a loss" card, remember that his interview was a full 30-40 minutes after the game ended. He had already gone into the locker room, changed clothes, had ample time to take out his frustrations with the linemen. I've got money wagered on the Colts to win the Super Bowl, but I hope it's Jim Sorgi throwing the game winning TD for the Colts after Manning gets his body completely mangled by Ogunleye or Urlacher.