|Posted on November 4, 2014 at 12:15 AM|
On November 2nd, 2014—the New England Patriots defeated the Denver Broncos: 43-21
It was a disappointing regular season loss for a Broncos team that came into Foxborough as three-point favorites. Much like last season's Manning vs. Brady XIV, the results of this regular season game are now being used to support the argument that "Bra-dy's bet-ter." The result of last year's AFC championship game be damned—it's all about the regular season apparently, so long as single-game results can be used in attempts to dethrone a player, who in Brady's words, has had "the greatest season-and-a-half stretch in the history of the NFL." Manning can say he stunk if he wants, but the stats, and the film, paint a different picture, if you're studious enough to look.
The obvious here: Manning's performance wasn't flawless. Out of his 57 passing attempts, he threw a bad pass into the hands of Rob Ninkovich. It was a "bad play" Manning acknowledged. The second interception however, came after Manning hit Wes Welker between the numbers, when Devin McCourty drilled Welker in the lower back, which caused the football to pop up in the air and get picked off by Brandon Browner. Casual viewers will be quick to point out that the interception Brady threw to Bradley Roby also came after the ball popped up in the air, difference being, Brady made a bad throw and placed the ball too high for 5' 11" Danny Amendola to catch.
Quality of competition is crucial to evaluating the performance of both quarterbacks. Brady had the benefit of playing against the Broncos 18th ranked passing defense. Manning, on the other hand, faced the Patriots No. 1 ranked passing defense. Prior to facing Manning, the Patriots surrendered only 210 yards per-game through the air.
Brady: 33 of 53 (62.3) for 333 yards (6.3), 4 touchdowns and 1 interception. 97.4 passer rating.
Manning: 34 of 57 (59.7) for 438 yards (7.7), 2 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. 80.9 passer rating.
Statistically, the two quarterbacks weren't as distant as you'd think. Brady sported a much better touchdown-to-interception differential, but his completion percentage was nearly identical and his rate of efficiency was much lower than Manning's. Another rarely mentioned statistic is that even after Sunday's dominant win, Brady ranks 18th in the NFL in yards-per-attempt, while Manning is 0.1 away from 1st place. Brady's completion percentage for the 2014 season is just a tick below Austin Davis', ranking him 14th amongst quarterbacks. If you've watched the coverage of Brady's 2014 season on TV, you've probably noticed that accuracy and efficiency statistics/rankings are conspicuously absent. It would be difficult to hype a quarterback for MVP while noting that his yards-per-attempt average (7.2) is lower than Ryan Fitzpatrick's (7.7).
The biased presentation of the Manning/Brady rivalry continued after the Patriots victory over the Broncos. It didn't matter that the Patriots had home field advantage. It didn't matter that Julian Edelman returned a punt for a touchdown. It didn't matter that Brian McManus missed a 41-yard field goal. It didn't matter that the Patriots defense got a gift-interception after an accurate Manning pass popped up in the air when Wes Welker was drilled in the lower back, causing him to leave the game. It didn't matter that sans garbage time, the Broncos averaged a putrid 1.8 yards-per-carry. Brady played well, but the Broncos running game, defense and special teams played like trash.
Brady's Patriots won, but he had a lower rate of efficiency (6.3 YPA) than he did in the infamous "bench-game" against the Chiefs (6.9 YPA).
Manning was far from perfect, but you won't hear much mentioned about these milestones in the mainstream media:
- Tied Brett Favre (552) for most total touchdown passes (regular season and postseason combined) in NFL history.
- Most consecutive games with two or more touchdown passes in NFL history (14).
- Most 400-yard passing games in NFL history (14)—breaking the previous record set by Dan Marino (13).
- Most passing yards vs. the Patriots, at home, in the team's 54-year history (438).
- Most passing yards by a quarterback, age 38 or older, on the road in NFL history (438).
Manning's 54.3 QBR on the road vs. the Patriots was significantly higher than Russell Wilson's 42.1 QBR at home vs. the 0-8 Raiders that same day. The difference is that one team's loss is planted on the shoulders of a quarterback whose record-breaking gets mostly overlooked, while another quarterback's lesser performance against inferior competition is excused because his team walked away with the "W." Another regular season Brady-victory has given inflammable fuel to Manning/Brady debates.
It doesn't matter that Brady has a lower postseason winning-percentage (4-5) than Manning (4-4) over the past half-decade. It doesn't matter that in the postseason, Brady is 0-2 against Manning in AFC championship games since 2006. When it comes to Brady, it's "all about the rings", until someone brings up his decade long ringless run. When it comes to Manning, it's all about the postseason, until someone points out how he's out-performed Brady in playoff competition since Johnny Manziel was 13.
Not a lot of press for Manning's 86.9 QBR, that ranks 1st in the NFL by a considerable margin—Brady's is 75.8 (5th).
Not a lot of press for Manning's 35.5% DVOA, which also ranks 1st in the NFL—and almost double Brady's 22.3% (5th).
Instead, we live in a world where completion percentage is irrelevant, yards-per-attempt is irrelevant, DVOA is irrelevant and QBR for the season, in totality, is irrelevant.
Out of context, regardless of competition, with measures of accuracy, efficiency and total performance disregarded—Brady's better. End of story.