A little dishing on sports

Crooklyn Logic

I know I promised to post my All-Stockholm Syndrome team in various sports this week.  I still plan to do that this weekend, but first wanted to address one of the comments on my Peyton Manning post.

Every protagonist needs a worthy antagonist.  Batman has The Joker.  Roadrunner has Wile E. Coyote.  Britney Spears has hygiene and sanity.  I have Crooklyn.  Now, Crooklyn and I have had a debate offline for years about the relative abilities of Peyton Manning and Tom Brady.  Crooklyn, who is also an unrepentant Charles Barkley fan, has always gravitated toward guys who fail miserably in the clutch – which explains his attachment to the Dallas Cowboys.  He’s a Manning guy.  I have always favored the players who are best when the moment is biggest, so, of course, I am a Brady guy.  As apparently is J-E-T-S fan, Rachel, who alluded to the Stockholm Syndrome effect T.B. has on her in a comment.

My post left no question that I consider Manning the superior player at this point, but what I thought was also clear was my assessment that Manning was less than he could have been prior to winning the Super Bowl given his talent and reputation.  I’m not going to bother with a full on comparison of Manning and Brady because, let’s face it, Brady won three titles in four years, going through Manning twice along the way.  And we know that during that stretch Manning had one of the top coaches in the game, an elite runningback in Edgerrin James, a top flight offensive line and a good defense, so this is not a Dan Marino in the 80’s and 90s situation where he had no help.  In fact, prior to 2004, Manning had significantly more support from his ground game than Brady.  Manning didn’t get it done when it mattered and Crooklyn needs to accept that.

I read an interesting piece in’s Cold Hard Facts last week in which the writer, Kerry Byrne, explains that the single biggest predictor of playoff game outcomes, by far, is the number of interceptions thrown.  Quarterbacks and turnovers are really important, who knew?!  Take a peek at this chart from the article:

Here’s the CHFF Interception Ladder, a look at the record of teams in the playoffs (since 1970) based upon the number of interceptions they threw (through the 2009 divisional playoffs):

• 0 INT — 191-51 (.789)
• 1 INT — 144-119 (.548)
• 2 INT — 54-119 (.312)
• 3 INT — 17-78 (.179)
• 4+ INT — 1-41 (.024)

So with those Cold Hard Facts in mind, can we discern any patterns from the performances of Manning and Brady?  Of course we can.

In 2001, Brady’s first Super Bowl season, he threw 97 passes in three playoff games and had a total of 1 interception, which was thrown in the infamous Tuck Rule Game in blizzard conditions against Oakland.

In fairness, Manning, in his first two playoff games, both losses, in 1999 and 2000, threw 74 passes without an interception.  Manning’s first two postseason picks came in a 41-0 loss to the J-E-T-S in the 2002 playoffs.

Here’s where it gets interesting.

In the 2003 season, Brady won his second Super Bowl.  He threw 126 passes that postseason, with 2 picks.

Manning cruised through two interception free playoff games and then faced the Patriots.  In that game, while Brady threw 37 passes with one pick, Manning tossed 4, count ‘em, 4 interceptions against the Pats!  Teams are 1-41 in the playoffs when their QBs throw for 4 picks.  In essence, Manning gave his team no chance to win.

In the 2004 season, Brady won his third Super Bowl.  He only threw 81 passes that entire postseason, but with zero interceptions, including in his team’s win over Manning’s Colts.

I know, you’re wondering how Manning fared in that game.  Well, it was better than the previous year.  Manning through 42 passes with only 1 interception in that game.

I recognize that many factors go into why QBs throw picks, and that there are many different elements to QB play and that simply extracting one with limited context does not end the discussion of whether Brady was better than Manning or vice versa.  What I will also say, though, is that as a football fan, what the statistics show me merely confirms what I watched with my own eyes.  I always felt that Brady was a guy who did exactly what he needed to do to win big games and Manning, for whatever reason, did not perform at his best in those moments.  At the end of 2004, in my mind, Brady was clearly a superior QB than Manning, although snark aside, it is not my intention to demean Manning as I exalt Brady.  Even then, he was an outstanding player.

An interesting footnote is that in looking at the 2006 playoffs, Manning’s Super Bowl year, Manning threw 7 interceptions in 153 throws, five of which came in the Colts’ first two playoff games.  He only threw one interception in the Super Bowl, although if you remember the game, that number easily could have been three.  To be clear, I recognize that Manning was great when he needed to be that year, particularly in the comeback against the Patriots that year.  But he was still shaky for long stretches of playoff games back then whereas I don’t see that at all now.  And in case you’re interested, Manning threw 1 pick in 47 passes against the Pats that year while Brady through 1 in 34 passes.

So Crooklyn, I hope I am being clear now: I absolutely stand by my argument that Brady was better than Manning, probably through about 2007.  But in the last couple of years, Manning has moved well past Brady and is currently playing at a level I haven’t seen since a certain 49er QB was dominating the gridiron.  Crooklyn, did I ever tell you about his first big moment?  He’s down 27-21 at home to the Dallas Cowboys in the closing seconds of the NFC Championship Game.  He’s driven his team inside the Dallas 10.  He’s scrambling around to his right, it looks like Too Tall Jones is going to sack him, and then…

Btw, I want to address the elephant in the room.  No, I have no idea how it is that Greg Oden obtained those pictures of me or why he would want to photoshop his head on my body.  I just ask that you respect my privacy during this difficult time for me and my family.


3 Responses to “Crooklyn Logic”

  1. […] sportstapas A little dishing on sports « Crooklyn Logic […]

  2. […] which he was called upon to drive his team down the field for late scores to nail down the wins.  I will direct you to a previous post for a partial analysis of Brady vs. Manning in head-to-head pla… Suffice it to say, I feel strongly that Tom Brady was the best player in the NFL for the period […]

  3. […] which he was called upon to drive his team down the field for late scores to nail down the wins.  I will direct you to a previous post for a partial analysis of Brady vs. Manning in head-to-head pla… Suffice it to say, I feel strongly that Tom Brady was the best player in the NFL for the period […]

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