Stats & Info: Brandon Stokley

Peyton arm strength silencing doubters

October, 27, 2012

Jake Roth/US PresswirePeyton Manning has improved his deep passing in his last four games.
Peyton Manning’s arm strength was questioned early in the season as he was coming back from neck surgery, especially when he struggled to make downfield throws in his first two games.

Manning failed to complete each of his five attempts on throws traveling more than 20 yards downfield over that span, which included three interceptions on such throws against the Atlanta Falcons on Monday Night Football.

He has silenced the critics since Week 2, completing 11-of-17 deep passes with four touchdowns and zero interceptions.

Manning has notably showcased his strong arm on downfield throws against a split-safety defense, where the window downfield is smaller with two safeties deep in pass coverage trying to take away the deep ball (split-safety defense is defined as two safeties deep in pass coverage).

Over his first two games, Manning attempted just two passes on throws more than 20 yards downfield against a split-safety look, resulting in two interceptions against the Falcons. In his four games since, Manning has completed 4-of-7 attempts against such coverage on throws more than 20 yards downfield, with two touchdowns.

Brandon Stokley has benefitted from Manning’s recent success on deep passes, catching both of his targets on throws of such distance for touchdowns since Week 2.

Manning beat split-safety coverage against the Houston Texans in Week 3 and connected with Stokley on a 38-yard touchdown.

Manning placed the ball perfectly over the head of Texans cornerback Brice McCain and strong safety Quintin Demps, showcasing his arm strength on tight coverage downfield.

Manning has been successful targeting Stokley this season, especially when he is lined up as a slot receiver.

Stokley has caught 83 percent of his targets when lined up in the slot this season, the third-highest catch percentage of any receiver with a minimum of 10 targets. Over his last four games, he has caught all 14 of his targets from Manning when lined up in that position, including three touchdowns.

The Saints could have their hands full with the duo on Sunday. New Orleans ranks among the bottom 10 teams in the league in receptions, receiving yards, touchdowns and first downs allowed to receivers lined up in the slot this season.

Manning comes up for air in second half

October, 16, 2012
AP Photo/Steven SennePeyton Manning leads the Broncos to 35 unanswered points in the second half after falling behind 24-0 at halftime.
It was a tale of two halves in San Diego between Philip Rivers and Peyton Manning Monday. The San Diego Chargers jumped out to a 24-0 halftime lead only to see the Denver Broncos score 35 unanswered second-half points en route to tying the largest halftime deficit comeback win on Monday Night Football.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Broncos became the first team in NFL history to win by double digits after trailing by at least 24.

The Broncos have outscored their opponents 79-6 in the fourth quarter this season, which is best in the NFL.

Rivers was 11-17 for 131 yards with two touchdowns and an interception in the first half for a total QBR of 47.7.

Manning threw for 142 yards and one interception before halftime leading to a 2.6 QBR. That interception, which was returned 80 yards for a touchdown by Quentin Jammer was one of three first-half turnovers by the Broncos.

The other two came on special teams in the first quarter after a muffed punt and a fumbled kickoff.

Elias also tells us the it was the first time a team lost a fumble on both a kickoff and punt runback in the first quarter of any game since the Philadelphia Eagles did so (in a 40–18 win, no less) against the Dallas Cowboys on Sept. 30, 2001.

The second half was completely opposite. Manning threw three touchdowns to three different receivers (Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker, Brandon Stokley) and Rivers threw three interceptions and lost two fumbles.

Manning was no stranger to a three-touchdown deficit at halftime.

In 2003, his Indianapolis Colts trailed at the half by 21 to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers only to come back and win 38-35 in overtime. That game was also on Monday Night Football. Monday’s halftime deficit was the largest Manning had ever overcome.

Manning had just one incompletion after halftime even though he aired it out more. He averaged 8.2 air yards per attempt in the second half compared to 5.2 in the first. It helped that his receivers didn’t drop any passes after halftime after dropping two in the first half.

Rivers connected with Antonio Gates twice for touchdowns in the first half, with the second making the score 24-0.

It was the 50th and 51st time the duo connected for touchdowns, the most in NFL history between a quarterback and tight end. Drew Bledsoe and Ben Coates are second with 45. However in the second half, Gates was nowhere to be found catching just one pass.

The Broncos sent five or more pass rushers six times in the first half and Rivers targeted Gates on four of those plays, resulting in three catches for 46 yards and a touchdown. In the second half, Rivers did not target Gates when facing added pressure despite seeing it twice as much.

Including Monday, 443 teams in the Super Bowl era have led by 24-or-more points at the half. The Chargers became the fourth team to lose such a game.

Wright finds place among key deflections

November, 20, 2011

Tony Gutierrez/AP PhotoRobert Griffin III enjoyed watching Kendall Wright's amazing touchdown in Baylor's win on Saturday.

While it wasn't the game-winner, Kendall Wright's 87-yard receiving touchdown was perhaps the most dramatic play of the Baylor Bears thrilling win over the Oklahoma Sooners on Saturday night.

Robert Griffin III's pass, intended for Tevin Reese, hit off of Reese's helmet and deflected about 20 yards down the field before being caught by Wright, who went the distance for the touchdown.

It brought back memories of other famous deflections in college and pro football history:

The Immaculate Reception
Franco Harris catches deflection to win AFC Divisional playoff game

December 23, 1972: The Pittsburgh Steelers were down 7-6 to the Raiders and were facing 4th–and-10 from their own 40-yard line. Terry Bradshaw’s pass, intended for John Fuqua, was broken up by Jack Tatum. The ball found its way to running back Franco Harris who scooped it up and rumbled in for the score, giving the Steelers a 13-7 win.

The Flea Kicker
Nebraska forces overtime on a receiving touchdown deflected off a foot

November 8, 1997: The top-ranked Nebraska Cornhuskers trailed the Missouri Tigers 38-31 in the final seconds. Scott Frost’s pass, intended for Shevin Wiggins, hit off Wiggins chest, deflected off the foot of a Missouri safety, and then was kicked back into the air by Wiggins who was being tackled. Nebraska receiver Matt Davison hauled in the deflected ball for a touchdown. The Cornhuskers would win in overtime and go on to win the national championship.

The Immaculate Deflection
Brandon Stokley hauls in deflection off Leon Hall

September 13, 2009: After Cedric Benson put the Bengals ahead with a touchdown with less than a minute to go, the Broncos scored on an 87-yard touchdown by Brandon Stokley. Kyle Orton’s pass, intended for Brandon Marshall, was tipped up by Leon Hall and then caught by Stokley who raced down the sideline for the game-winning touchdown with 11 seconds remaining.