As a friend we were out to dinner with Saturday texted to his friends as the afternoon stretched into evening, “I’ve seen this movie before.”

Straight up, the Denver Broncos’ shock, double overtime loss to the Ravens was not Peyton’s fault. Sure, he threw a couple bad picks and once again looked ordinary after an other-worldly regular season. But, as was often the case when the Colts shit the bed in the playoffs, the blame lay primarily with other Broncos. His teammates that couldn’t tackle, couldn’t defend the pass, couldn’t contain Ray Rice, and most shockingly, couldn’t follow the most basic rule of late-game defense were the biggest contributors to the Broncos epic egg laying.

But Peyton will get the blame, and this is another argument against him in the Greatest QB of All Time debate.

Here’s the thing: even when his teams have won, Peyton has rarely been as good in the playoffs as in the regular season. Even when he won the Super Bowl MVP, his stats were middling and it felt more like an award that was bestowed for past excellence than earned on the field in Miami.

I think Peyton is the greatest quarterback in NFL history,1 if you look, at what he’s done from September to December over his career. His struggles, and his teams’ inability to win more than a single Super Bowl, make that debate a much more difficult choice between him, Joe Montana, John Elway, and Tom Brady.

That was some great game, though. We went out to dinner with a large group and the restaurant had TVs that are normally switched off turned on. So the men in our group gathered on one end of the table, staring at the big screen above us. I may have created a small scene when Jacoby Jones hauled in Joe Flacco’s desperation heave late in the fourth quarter. In my defense A) it was an epic play, one we’ll never forget and B) I was far from the only person in the room screaming. I may have just screamed the loudest.

There was a strange mood in the restaurant. Some people were clearly cheering for Peyton and the Broncos. Some were just watching a great game. There were a few scattered folks who were either pulling for the Ravens or perhaps against Peyton. As the game went longer and longer, and Peyton threw the interception many of us thought was inevitable, there were plenty of loud, derisive comments like my friend’s I mentioned above.

But, man, what a game.

I didn’t get to see all of the Colin Kaepernick show, but I saw enough. Maybe other people have already said this and I’ve just missed it, but what he’s doing is awfully reminiscent of what Tom Brady did in 2001 after Drew Bledsoe got hurt. There’s no reason for him to be playing this well, but he is. And the Niners just keep winning. Who knows if he can continue this through two more games this season, let alone over a long career. But the 49ers are suddenly sexy again, and between Kaepernick. RGIII, Russell Wilson, and Andrew Luck, there is a tremendous infusion of new QB blood into the league.

Aaron Rogers is in the same place Peyton is. Genius in the regular season, but post-season ruined by his defense.

I’ve been fighting a brutal cold, so when Atlanta went up 20 on Seattle, I decided to close my eyes for a while. Fortunately I opened them in time to see the final 5-6 minutes of that game. That was something else, too, although it didn’t have the same, classic feel the Baltimore-Denver game had.

Then New England had to ruin a perfect weekend and destroy the Texans. Could they at least have let Houston hang around until the fourth quarter before commencing with the behind whooping?

Which leaves us with two pretty interesting games next week. The smart picks seem to be San Francisco and New England. But Kaepernick’s youth remains a concern. And no matter how solid and boring the Pats are, theres a part of me that fears picking against the Ravens. I’d be perfectly fine with two more instant classics, regardless of who wins.

  1. Remember I’m not like the biggest Peyton fan in the world, either. I like him, but never loved him.