When it lost its third consecutive game

As anyone who has followed the future Hall of Famer’s career knows, it’s what’s under the hood that sets him apart. On third-and-2 from the Oakland 31-yard line with 1:39 to go, Manning capped off an emphatic display of histrionics at the line by running a play-fake to Dominic Rhodes(notes) that was so cold, even the halfback thought he had the football as he darted to his right. He didn’t – Manning kept it, rambled to his left and spent some quality time with himself, foregoing a touchdown in favor of a game-clinching slide four yards from paydirt. “If you tell people, they don’t block the same, and [it’s not as convincing],” Manning said afterward. “The only way to do it is if you don’t tell anybody.” Don’t tell the people who assumed Indy was done a few weeks ago, when it lost its third consecutive game to drop to 6-6, but the injury-plagued Colts appear headed to the postseason with a bounce in their step – and a quarterback who gives them at least a fighting chance to overcome their many flaws.

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