Peyton Manning’s virtuosity can’t be fully appreciated by watching his right arm fling short and intermediate throws on a string to receivers or by browsing his statistical accomplishments. His maniacal pre-snap jazz hands gesticulating wildly as he tunes the offensive formations to just the right frequency are what make him unique.
Most comedians utilize joke writers and artists employ songwriters. Peyton is a precocious sage at the line of scrimmage who memorizes lines in his head, steps to the mic and drops his bars in one recording. Once the track debuts, you don’t even realize that he also manufactured the beat, worked the soundboard and managed the distribution label. On Monday night, Manning ran circles around Terrelle Pryor. Manning’s 40 time in his youth was probably closer to 5 seconds. At 37, he probably clocks in at daylight savings time. The quarterback opposite him ran a 4.4 in college.
Manning served up a clinic on the nuances of pocket passing. Manning may have fumbled when he was blindsided by an unimpeded blitzer midway through his throwing motion as the Broncos threatened to score again in the third quarter, but he hasn’t thrown an interception to counter any of his dozen touchdown passes this season. Those 12 touchdown throws is one ahead of the NFL record through three games set by Tom Brady in 2011. There's a commonality in both seasons. Wes Welker was a product of who's system again? In three weeks, he's raked in four touchdowns. He took less money to come to Denver, but not only has Manning made his teammates better, but he's even made them better product endorsers through osmosis. Tom Brady can't say that.
What more is there to say about Manning? It’s amazing that in this age of athletically superior quarterbacks, the most awkward looking runner in the league is beating the britches off of offenses.
Pryor proved he might have a future in this league. If he continues developing, he may have more of a future than Peyton. That may not be saying much for a 37-year-old quarterback, though it’s much longer than experts predicted Pryor would last. Cam Newton, Michael Vick, Terrelle Pryor, Colin Kaepernick and RGIII are now a combined 4-12. Besides who’d want to run in that thin air if they don’t have to? Darren McFadden was feeling fresh after four quarters of falling forwards. On 12 attempts, he was limited to nine yards. Maybe saying he fell forward was a little bit too generous.
The Raiders resorted to trickeration to get their offense moving. McFadden’s only positive plays came on halfback pass plays. On the first handoff, McFadden ran outside the right tackle, stepped up and spun a perfectly parabolic spiral into the arms of Marcel Reece.Late in the fourth, Allen ran the same Wildcat play for McFadden deep into Raider territory, chose to tuck it, run and dove for the pylon.
Pryor was treated to a graduate thesis on quarterbacking. It’s rare that a quarterback throws for 281 yards, doesn’t commit a turnover, injects an extra 36 yards on the ground and gets completely overmatched.
Manning doesn’t need to run. Instead, he’s got defenses scrambling for answers.