As much as the loss of Colts receivers Dallas Clark, Anthony Gonzalez and Austin Collie hurt his passing attack, the additional impact of not having a running game is making Peyton Manning relive bad memories from the 2001 season. Manning lost halfback Edgerrin James most of that season with a knee injury, making him force throws that resulted in 23 interceptions, including six returned for touchdowns. The bad habit has returned over the past three games, with 11 interceptions, four of them returned for touchdowns.
On the flip side, Eli Manning has thrived in a Giants offense that has been missing receivers Steve Smith and Hakeem Nicks and three fifths of their starting offensive line. Tom Coughlin and the younger Manning's offense has evolved - now spotlighting two- and sometimes three-tight ends while featuring the running of Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs. With Manning get such maximum protection, Coughlin feels the play-action passing game opens the door for some big plays and is debating if the Giants should open things back up once Smith and Nicks returns.
Maurice Jones-Drew outrushed Chris Johnson of the Titans Sunday, 186 to 53, and can now set his sights on passing Arian Foster of the Texans for the league's rushing title. Jones-Drew knew his first year as a starter wouldn't result in a rushing title with Johnson gaining 2,006 yards in 2009, but now Jones-Drew trails Foster by only 53 yards and enters a three-game stretch in which he and the Jaguars faces the Raiders, Colts and Redskins, who rank 23rd, 29th and 28th stopping the run.
In this potential record season for passing yards and touchdown passes, quarterbacks Carson Palmer, Matt Schaub and others are finding out there is more to this game than putting up big numbers. Of the nine quarterbacks who already have 3,000 or more passing yards, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady are the only ones with winning records, while Palmer and Kyle Orton have lost enough to worry about job security if Stanford's Andrew Luck enters the 2011 draft.
Inside the Huddle