Posted: Monday January 15, 2007 8:49AM; Updated: Monday January 15, 2007 7:44PM
The Fine Fifteen
Peyton Manning didn't throw a touchdown in the Colts' win over the Ravens on Saturday.
Peter King will answer your questions each week in Monday Morning Quarterback: Tuesday Edition.
1. Indianapolis (14-4). Saturday was PeytonManning's biggest win at Baltimore, obviously. I covered his first game in Baltimore for the magazine, back in the Colts' 3-13 season in 1998. Just for fun, here's the opening chunk of what I wrote:
"In his eight years of high school and college football, Peyton Manning's teams lost 11 games. On Sunday, in the 12th game of his rookie NFL season, Manning's pro team, Indianapolis, lost its 10th, through no fault of his own. And judging by the way the red lines criss-crossed his eyes like a gaggle of subway lines on the New York City map afterward, you could see how tough life in the NFL is on the kid. 'It's eating me up,' he said quietly, finally alone outside the Colts locker room, eyes mostly staring at the concrete floor. 'It's tearing my insides up.'
It's good that Manning hurts. You want your leader to hurt after a 38-31 loss to Baltimore that you should have won. But the hurt should not obscure the real Peyton Manning rookie story, because it was the Colt defense and generous special teams that lost this game. See the forest, Colt fans, not the trees. You've got a smart quarterback, who, on about two dozen plays Sunday, called two plays in the huddle, then signaled which one they'd run once he saw the defensive alignment at the line of scrimmage. You've got a quarterback who, after a 27-of-42 day for 357 yards, three touchdown and one pick, remembers only the failed last offensive play of the game because he knows that, for a quarterback, no statistic is nearly as important as the W or L.''
2. New England (14-4). "That's what a winning team does,'' said Belichick. What exactly is that? Everything. Belichick is now 5-1 in his career coaching against No. 1 seeds in the playoffs. That is a heck of a record.
3. San Diego (14-3). San Diego at New England next fall. Memo to all those who employ me: I beg you to let me cover that game.
4. New Orleans (11-6). Attention Chicago: 228 yards passing, 208 yards rushing by the Saints against a pretty good Philly D. This is no gimme game for the Bears.
5. Chicago (14-3). Good to see Tank Johnson make a huge play for the Bears, sacking Matt Hasselbeck on that big fourth-quarter series. The Bears will need him to stop Deuce McAllister on Sunday.
6. Baltimore (13-4). Fans were crying for Brian Billick's head after the game, because he kept calling pass plays that, even if completed, would have been shy of the first-down sticks. A mildly applicable point. But the Ravens' poor offensive play was due far, far more to Steve McNair's passing shortcomings than to Billick's play-calling.
7. Philadelphia (11-7). I will join the baying hounds in agreeing that Andy Reid should certainly have gone for the first down on fourth-and-15 with 1:56 left in the game, down 27-24.
8. New York Jets (10-7). I'd be stunned if Wayne Huizenga hired boy semi-wonder Brian Schottenheimer of the Jets. Just not a big enough name for Wayne.
9. Dallas (9-8). Waiting for Parcells. That's the sequel to Waiting for Godot.
10. Seattle (10-8). Anybody on the Seattle defense feel like covering Rashied Davis in overtime?
11. Tennessee (8-8). Hope Vince Young doesn't take a long vacation. He needs to bond big-time with Norm Chow this winter and spring.
12. Kansas City (9-8). Herman Edwards has to be asking this question: Should Trent Green be my quarterback in 2007?
13. New York Giants (8-9). Pretty uninspired first two weeks of the offseason for the Giants.
14. St. Louis Rams (8-8). I wonder if the Rams will release Marshall Faulk when he asks to be released, which he will ... assuming he wants to play again, which I think he will want to do.
15. (tie) Carolina (8-8). The Lions outscored the Panthers this year by 35 points. Buffalo outscored 'em by 30. You've got your work cut out, Dan Henning.
15. (tie) Denver (9-7). I really like the Jim Bates hiring. Players like playing for the guy and he'll do a good job.