With sibling rivalry out of the way, Manning brothers do Mom proud

ON THE NFL

Monday Morning Qb

Gameday

September 18, 2006|By KEN MURRAY

Free of the burden of having to play against each other, the Manning brothers got back to the business of tormenting the rest of the NFL yesterday.

Peyton Manning threw for 400 yards and three touchdowns as the Indianapolis Colts trounced the Houston Texans, 43-24, once again.

Eli Manning threw for 371 yards and three scores as he authored a remarkable comeback in the New York Giants' 30-24 overtime win against the Philadelphia Eagles.

For Eli, it was a coronation of sorts. He absorbed eight sacks at the hands of the blitz-crazy Eagles, yet had enough left to bring the Giants back from a 17-point, fourth-quarter deficit to win in overtime.

His game-ending touchdown pass, a 31-yarder to Plaxico Burress, came against a max Eagles blitz. He threw off his back foot to get the ball over a leaping Brian Dawkins of the Eagles. It came down in Burress' arms.

In a game the Giants had to win -- yes, even this early in the season -- Manning delivered his finest game. It could be enough to propel the Giants to a special season.

Peyton's performance, meanwhile, carried a different kind of forecast. In two games, both victories, Manning has thrown 79 passes. That pace would produce an arm-wearying 632 passes this season. Manning's personal career high was the 591 attempts he threw in 2002.

Why is this significant? This is the first time since 1998 Manning hasn't had Edgerrin James, the gifted runner who defected to Arizona, to protect his back. Without James in the backfield, it remains to be seen how much opponents respect the threat of a run. Without that threat, Manning could become more of a drop-back passer than a play-action passer.

All of which means the Colts' Manning may make another run at the record book this season, especially if he's going to throw 600 times.

Week 2 air raid

Aside from the Mannings, six other quarterbacks threw for at least 300 yards in a furious assault on defensive secondaries in Week 2. Cincinnati's Carson Palmer (352) and New Orleans' Drew Brees (353) both won their games. Philadelphia's Donovan McNabb (350), Green Bay's Brett Favre (340), Tampa Bay's Chris Simms (313) and the New York Jets' Chad Pennington (306) did not.

Five quarterbacks also threw for at least three touchdowns, including Chicago's Rex Grossman, who threw four.

Unlike the fantasy obsession with passing numbers, the real NFL knows raw numbers don't guarantee success. The bottom line yesterday was this: Buffalo's J.P. Losman threw for only 83 yards and Atlanta's Michael Vick passed for 92, but both produced wins.

Going south

Of all the teams that fell to 0-2 yesterday, the two teams that might be in the most trouble are Tampa Bay and Carolina in the NFC South.

The Buccaneers have dominated the Falcons since the 2002 realignment, winning six of the eight meetings. But Simms had an erratic, three-interception effort and the Bucs, shut out in Week 1 by the Ravens, still haven't scored a touchdown this season.

The Panthers had their game at Minnesota in hand until they tried a cross-field lateral on a punt return that gave the Vikings life and ultimately a 16-13 overtime triumph. Chris Gamble's lateral with nine minutes left resulted in a turnover, and the repercussions could haunt Panthers coach John Fox the rest of the season.

In a matchup of desperate teams, the Panthers play the Bucs next week in Tampa.

V. Young on deck

Ready or not, it might be time for the Vince Young era to start in Tennessee. With veteran Kerry Collins playing abysmally, the Titans gave Young, the third pick in the draft, a serious tutorial in San Diego.

Young completed seven of 19 throws for 106 yards and his first NFL touchdown in a 40-7 blowout loss against the Chargers. Collins, signed right before the regular season, hit six of 19 for 57 yards with two interceptions.

The Titans have road games in Miami, Indianapolis and Washington around a home game against Dallas in the next four weeks. They probably will be 0-6 going into a Week 8 game against the Texans. Why wait?

Tough times in Miami

The Miami Dolphins, another surprising 0-2 team, will have to regroup on the road. They get the Titans at home in Week 3, then play their next three games at Houston, New England and at the New York Jets.

Even if two of the three are winnable, the road is not a good place to get well. And the Dolphins have some problems to correct.

Miami's offensive line couldn't handle Buffalo defensive end Ryan Denney in an ugly 16-6 loss. Denney had three of the Bills' six sacks of quarterback Daunte Culpepper, who threw for 250 yards but did not play well.

ken.murray@baltsun.com

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