Bob M has more thoughts on the rough spot Peyton Manning has been going through.
Based on the recent "Manning's year is not all that bad" post, I decided to do a little digging into other QBs' worst three-game streaks of the year (traditional stats--easier to track). I took the top 8 by QB rating and looked at their worst streaks by Passer Rating (BTW, Manning's worst 3-game stretch was NOT the 11 INT three-game losing streak! It started a week earlier with a win over CIN but a game with a 65.0 passer rating. In fact, his SECOND worst three-game stretch, as measured by passer rating, was not even the "slump"... it was weeks 8-10 with two wins over Hou and Cin sandwiching a loss to Philly. The INT slump was his third lowest rated three-game stretch. Which means, if you can pick so many consecutive stinker streaks, maybe it has been an off year.... but I digress.)
I won't bore you with details, but the worst stretches are a mixed bag--I included Vick, Roethlisberger, and Romo's "I am missing a chunk of consecutive games" as all zeroes in their otherwise good seasons because they were not there for their team, regardless of reason. Mainly because Manning has missed one snap in his career and being there is important. But ignoring their goose eggs:
Brady: 84.37, 3 TDs and 2 INTs
Rivers: 89.77 avg, 4 TDs and 3 INTs. Damn good for a slump. Better considering their WR situation.
Rodgers: 76.33 3/3 Seems average
Cassell: 75.23 4/3 ditto
Brees: 81.07 7/8 ditto
Manning: 75.3 6/7 ditto
Hey wait a minute, Manning's worst games by passer rating involve more TDs than anybody but Brees, and fewer INTs than Brees (but more than anybody else) and a pretty typical passer rating, on a LOT more passes thrown. Cassell is the only one with a top-10 RB to divide the defense's focus.
Now the "slump" is a little different: 77.17 rating, on par with everybody but Rivers and Brady, and 8/11, more TDs AND INTs than anybody else. And yes, many more yards and passes, meaning more risk, etc.
I think the takeaway was that, if not for those INTs, his "slump" was statistically great--he'd have had much higher rating because of all the completions, yards, and TDs. But you have to include them, and even with them, his "slump" is a fairly typical stretch for top-rated QBs this year. A bit weaker than the top-two guys, but comparable to guys rated well ahead of him (and picked to death far less by the media) and his worst three games were MUCH better than the guys who were not able to suit up for their teams for whatever reason. (Do you want your starter to suit up on game day and give you a puncher's chance even with a bad streak, or not be active at all?)
And despite the horrid streak, if those four pick-sixes were just plain INTs, his rating would be the same, but his team may have been able to win two of the three.... thereby making a bad streak a whole lot easier to live with and less of a media firestorm. I still think the clear early non-called DPI by Burnett against Wayne that went for a pick six for San Diego turned the whole game around. Colts were trailing 16-14 at the half and if that play was reversed, it could have been 21-16. Yes, they eventually beat the Colts soundly, but if you call DPI on that play and the Colts go on to score, there's a 14-point delta right there, and a lot of home crowd emotion taken out of the game, momentum, etc. Even if everything else played out the same, it would be a 28-21 game--a loss but not a blowout.
I still think we have to win out and win one playoff game for this season to not be remembered as an embarrassment (by Colts standards) in a decade, but when people look at this season statistically for Manning, they're likely to go, "okay, a slight dip from two consecutive MVP seasons... to be expected, especially with no run game."