AFC South: Peyton Mannning
January, 18, 2010
By Paul Kuharsky | ESPN.com
AP Photo/Michael ConroyThanks to solid protection and a timing-based passing game, Peyton Manning was sacked just 10 times in 571 regular-season pass attempts.INDIANAPOLIS -- The two sacks the Baltimore Ravens got Saturday night weren’t the kind defenders covet. They didn’t burst through the Indianapolis Colts' line or beat someone around the corner and drill Peyton Manning. Manning looked up, saw them coming and basically surrendered.
That might not be your brand of football, but it was prudent for a guy who can’t afford to get hurt as he pursues his second Super Bowl.
The four-time NFL MVP usually avoids sacks thanks to an excellent combination platter of pass protection and the precise-timing offense. By the time a pass-rusher arrives, Manning's thrown the ball. It worked often against the Ravens in the Colts' AFC divisional playoff victory.
Against the blitz-happy New York Jets in the AFC Championship Game on Sunday, he'll be focused on getting rid of it quickly, too.
And while that pass-rusher might take heart that he hurried Manning and influenced a play, he may also wind up frustrated if even the perfect snap manages nothing more than that.
“It's very frustrating,” said Colts Pro Bowl defensive end Robert Mathis of a quarterback who’s able to consistently get rid of the ball in the face of a successful rush. “To be honest with you, if they get the ball out quick, it throws you off your game. But you have to keep swinging. You have to stick to your guns.
“[Manning] just knows the game, so you're obviously not just going to tee off on him. He'll make sure of that."
The precision of Manning and the passing offense have a lot more permutations than just exasperating pass-rushers, of course.
Here are looks at it from a few different angles.