It’s Wild Card Weekend and, as usual, the Patriots have the weekend off. The Patriots have reached the playoffs 14 times in the Brady Era, and have received a first-round bye 11 times in the Brady Era. Peyton Manning wasn’t able to take this weekend off nearly as often, though.
Peyton Manning reached the playoffs 15 times in the 17 seasons he played, including each of his last 13 seasons. His teams received a first-round byes in eight of those seasons, meaning he made semi-regular appearances on Wild Car Weekend, unlike Brady.
Manning’s teams were 3-4 on Wild Card Weekend, and 3-5 after a first round bye. That adds up to nine one-and-dones, by far the most of any NFL quarterback. That means Manning’s teams only won a game in the playoffs 6 out of the 15 times he took them to the playoffs. His career playoff record stood at 11-13 before last year’s magical run gave him his second Super Bowl ring and a just-barely-over-.500 career postseason record of 14-13.
I must give Manning his due. He did knock down the Patriots more times than I care to remember in the playoffs. The Colts win in the 2006 AFC title game is still in my top five worst Boston sports moments. But I can give Manning his due, and still look back at some of his more memorable playoff losses.
[I’ve omitted the Foxborough Follies from this list for the sake of brevity, and because those are obviously well-remembered by Patriots fans.]
2002 Jets 41 – Colts 0. Not much else needs to be said about this playoff disaster. Manning had a dreadful night in Giants Stadium as the Colts lost to Chad Effing Penington. This loss put Peyton at 0-3 in the playoffs, and really started the “Peyton sucks in the playoffs” conversations in earnest.
2005 Down 3 to the Steelers with 1:20 to go, Peyton Manning took a sack on fourth down at his own 2-yard line. Looking to put the Colts away, Jerome Bettis coughed it up and gave Peyton and the Colts one last shot. Peyton got the Colts into field-goal range, but Mike Vanderjagt couldn’t connect on a 46-yard attempt, and Pittsburgh held on to win this wild one. [As a side note, this was Vanderjagt’s last game as a Colt. That offseason, the Colts went out and got Adam Vinatieri. That’s all I’ve got to say about that.]
2007 Looking to defend their Super Bowl title, the Colts received a first-round bye and hosted the San Diego Chargers in the divisional round. The Colts led 24-21 in the fourth, but the Chargers took the lead late and Peyton Manning had to orchestrate another last-minute comeback. He led the Colts inside the 10, but couldn’t put it in the end zone thanks to pressure from Shawne Merriman (remember him?). The Colts would actually get the ball back one more time, but that drive also stalled out. This was also the last game to be played at the RCA Dome.
2012 New team, same result. Peyton’s first trip to the playoffs with the Broncos ended the same way so many of his previous trips did. Much of this loss can be pinned on the Broncos defense, but this Peyton Manning Playoff Meltdown receives special mention because of how excruciating this loss was. The Ravens trailed the Broncos 35-28 in the final minute. That’s when Joe Flacco connected with Jacoby Jones for a 70-yard touchdown with 31 seconds remaining. The Ravens would go on to win the game in overtime, and defeat the Patriots the next week en route to winning Super Bowl XLVII.
With Andy Dalton and the Bengals sitting the playoffs out this year, no other quarterback playing in the playoffs this year immediately comes to mind when thinking of another quarterback to carry on the legacy of Peyton Manning Playoff Meltdowns. With backup quarterbacks all over the place in the AFC, though, this should still be a fun (and sloppy) Wild Card Weekend to watch.