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1.16.2006

Even more schadenfreude 

Even though the Patriots lost, my weekend was brightened considerably when the Indianapolis Colts stunk out the joint (their own joint, no less) against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Mike Vanderjagt missed a game-tying 46-yard field goal with :17 left in the game. It couldn't have happened to a more deserving person.

And Peyton Manning still doesn't get it. In the postgame press conference, he said something to the extent that he was trying to be as diplomatic as possible regarding his teammates, but that there were "problems in pass protection." He also said that he was disappointed because he felt like he studied the Steelers a lot over the last two weeks.

Well, guess what Peyton: sometimes quarterbacks have to make plays when something goes wrong.

Certainly the coaching staff could have done a better job of preparing the offense to handle Pittsburgh's blitzes, and certainly the offensive line could have done a better job of pass protection. Manning is by no means the only person responsible for the loss. Still, championship quarterbacks are expected to occasionally create plays when the offense breaks down or the defense makes an unexpected move. If they spring a blitz and there aren't enough blockers, this means that the offense has an advantage downfield, and the quarterback needs to dodge the blitz and either gain yards or get the ball to a receiver quickly. Sometimes he may even have to take a big hit to make a good pass.

Manning might be the best QB in history when he has the right play called, but he's a shockingly average quarterback when he doesn't. The great quarterbacks in history could improvise when they needed to -- Joe Montana, John Elway, Troy Aikman, Brett Favre, and yes, Tom Brady.

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