Mike Sando's MVP Watch

September, 19, 2012
9/19/12
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Alex Smith and Matt RyanUS PresswireSan Francisco's Alex Smith, left, and Atlanta's Matt Ryan have led their teams to 2-0 starts.
The Manning brothers, Peyton and Eli, accounted for six of the 28 interceptions NFL quarterbacks threw in Week 2.

They also accounted for 9.5 percent of all passing yardage.

Eli's fourth-quarter recovery and 510-yard passing performance against Tampa Bay returned him to the MVP Watch list after a week away.

Peyton gets the week off after his three first-quarter interceptions doomed Denver to defeat at Atlanta, site of the Broncos' lone indoor game this season. Those questioning Peyton Manning's throwing velocity on deeper passes should watch to see how cold-weather games affect his 36-year-old arm later in the season.

Our top two players on the MVP Watch list have yet to suffer a turnover this season. Atlanta's Matt Ryan and San Francisco's Alex Smith have combined for nine touchdown passes while completing 70 percent of their throws.

Smith has not thrown many longer passes, ranking 31st out of 34 qualifying quarterbacks with only five attempts traveling 15-plus yards past the line of scrimmage. That feeds perceptions of Smith as Most Valuable Game Manager (MVGM). But when the 49ers have needed Smith to make critical plays, he has delivered.

The 49ers' clinching 12-play, 79-yard touchdown drive against Detroit on Sunday night provided the latest example. Smith completed 6 of 7 passes for 76 yards on the drive. That included a 7-yard pass on third-and-7, a 16-yarder on third-and-14, an 11-yarder on third-and-9 and a 23-yard touchdown pass to tight end Vernon Davis.

Longstanding perceptions of Smith are appearing increasingly outdated.

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