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Looking Back on Peyton Manning's November 30th, 2003 Performance vs. the Patriots

Posted on November 1, 2014 at 3:30 PM

On November 30th, 2003—Peyton Manning shredded one of the greatest pass defenses in NFL history. Sans their Week 13 matchup against Manning, the New England Patriots allowed only seven touchdown passes to 28 interceptions. Of the 17 quarterbacks, only one (Tony Banks) walked away with a positive touchdown-to-interception differential (+1). Manning's Colts lost 38-34, leaving most to forget one of the greatest passing performances of Manning's career, and given the circumstances, one of the best passing performances, vs. quality of competition, in NFL history.



Quarterbacks vs. the 2003 New England Patriots (minimum 10 attempts)

 

  • 11/30/03: Peyton Manning 29 of 48 for 278 yards, 4 touchdowns and 1 interception  (+3) 95.7
  • 11/23/03: Tony Banks 10 of 25 for 093 yards, 2 touchdowns and 1 interception  (+1) 60.9
  • 09/07/03: Drew Bledsoe 17 of 28 for 230 yards, 1 touchdown and 1 interception  (0) 83.9
  • 09/21/03: Vinny Testaverde 25 of 43 for 264 yards, 1 touchdown and 1 interception  (0) 74.2
  • 10/26/03: Tim Couch 07 of 11 for 040 yards,  0 touchdowns and 0 interceptions  (0) 70.3
  • 09/28/03: Patrick Ramsey 10 of 22 for 147 yards,  0 touchdowns and 0 interceptions  (0) 67.8
  • 11/03/03: Danny Kanell 16 of 35 for 163 yards,  1 touchdown and 1 interception  (0) 57.2
  • 12/27/03: Travis Brown 11 of 14 for 119 yards,  0 touchdowns and 1 interception  (-1) 73.9
  • 10/05/03: Steve McNair 23 of 45 for 360 yards,  0 touchdowns and 1 interception  (-1) 68.8
  • 12/14/03: Byron Leftwich 21 of 40 for 288 yards,  1 touchdown and 2 interceptions  (-1) 63.3
  • 10/19/03: Jay Fiedler 20 of 35 for 230 yards,  1 touchdown and 2 interceptions  (-1) 62.8
  • 12/27/03: Drew Bledsoe 12 of 29 for 083 yards,  0 touchdowns and 1 interception  (-1) 60.8
  • 10/26/03: Kelly Holcomb 15 of 25 for 115 yards,  0 touchdowns and 1 interception  (-1) 54.6
  • 09/14/03: Donovan McNabb 18 of 46 for 186 yards,  0 touchdowns and 2 interceptions  (-2) 33.4
  • 12/07/03: Jay Fiedler 13 of 31 for 111 yards,  0 touchdowns and 2 interceptions  (-2) 25.1
  • 11/16/03: Quincy Carter 20 of 36 for 210 yards,  0 touchdowns and 3 interceptions  (-3) 38.0
  • 10/12/03: Kerry Collins 25 of 59 for 314 yards,  0 touchdowns and 4 interceptions  (-4) 31.3
  • 12/20/03: Chad Pennington 24 of 43 for 229 yards,  0 touchdowns and 5 interceptions  (-5) 31.2

 


The narrative regarding Manning's battles with the Patriots in the early 2000's is that he couldn't crack Bill Belichick's defense. False. On that night, Manning faced the Patriots pass defense at the absolute peak of their power and when the unstoppable force met the immovable object—it was Peyton Manning who couldn't be stopped.


Brady hasn't played on teams that would lose in spite of him playing that well.


He has a 20-0 record in games where he threw four or more touchdowns and one or fewer interceptions. Manning did just that, but his team managed to surrender 38 points to a quarterback who coughed the ball up twice in the second half, sporting a (0) touchdown-to-interception differential.


 

  • 11/30/03: Tom Brady 26 of 35 for 236 yards, 2 touchdowns and 2 interceptions (0) 87.3

 


When NFL Network ran a countdown of the "Top Brady vs. Manning Games", this game came in at No. 4.


As expeted, attempts were made to portray what as a close game score-wise, as a shootout between Manning and Brady—it wasn't.

 

"What I remember about the quarterback performance that day was that it was impossible to stop either guy." -Greg Rakestraw


No mention of Brady's third quarter interception—Manning answered it with a touchdown pass.

No mention of Brady's second interception on the following drive—Manning answered it with another touchdown pass.


"This showed me the Tom Brady that could respond to the challenge of a quarterback like Peyton Manning, having a typical Peyton Manning day, and then Brady answering it." -Vic Carucci

 

The misleading portrayal of history leaves this game remembered as a closely fought contest between two great quarterbacks. Manning's dominant performance against one of the greatest passing defenses in NFL history is the feat of note amongst those who study quarterbacks. Football is the ultimate team sport, so superior play at the quarterback position being rewarded with an "L" for effort is nothing new. But intentionally skewing the presentation of history in an attempt to alter it's perception leaves those too lazy to research and watch the games with an erroneous, stupefied point of view. The game was no aerial duel. One future Hall of Fame quarterback lit up one of the greatest pass defenses in NFL history, only to lose the game when his supporting cast surrendered 38 points. The other future Hall of Fame quarterback turned in an underwhelming performance against a bad defense, but won anyway—a staple of the early 2000's Patriots. Reality opposing popular narratives isn't always glamorous.

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