Even Peyton Manning can’t win games on his own

INDIANAPOLIS - NOVEMBER 28: Peyton Manning  of the Indianapolis Colts looks to throw a pass while pursued by Kevin Burnett  of the San Diego Chargers during the NFL game at Lucas Oil Stadium on November 28, 2010 in Indianapolis, Indiana. The Chargers won 36-14. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

In terms of reading defenses, making adjustments at the line of scrimmage and putting the ball in a spot that only his receiver can make a play, Peyton Manning is the best. But if his performance Sunday night against the Chargers is any indication, then he’s at the point in his career where he needs more help around him.

Indy deactivated six starters for their Sunday night matchup with the Chargers, who promptly crushed the Colts 36-14. Manning completed 31-of-48 passes for 285 yards and two touchdowns, but he was intercepted four times, two of which were returned for touchdowns by San Diego.

Among the key players that were out for the Colts were Dallas Clark, Joseph Addai and Austin Collie. And outside of Jacob Tamme, there hasn’t been any backup that has stepped up in the trio’s absence. (Donald Brown has been unimpressive and inconsistency continues to plague Pierre Garcon.)

Try as he did, Manning was overmatched on Sunday night. Eric Weddle should have been called for pass interference on his interception-turned-touchdown, but take that play out of the equation and Peyton still struggled. He never seemed to get settled because he was taking hits inside the pocket and a lot of his throws sailed on him because he rarely had time to set his feet. Granted, he should have been better. He missed open receivers, he forced passes into coverage and even when he did make a competition, he wasn’t always on target.

He was bad. But if the Colts were completely healthy I don’t think it’s unreasonable to say that he wouldn’t have played as poorly as he did last night.

The Colts have now lost three of their last four games but the good news is that they should start to get some players back next week. Addai seems to be getting closer to returning and Collie (concussion) should be medically cleared to play soon as well.

For Manning’s sake, let’s hope that reinforcements are on the way. The AFC South is still the Colts’ division to lose but the Jaguars hung with the Giants on Sunday in the Meadowlands so they’re not likely to go away soon. Indy has a fight on its hands.

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Bengals hold Manning without touchdown pass, still lose

Indianapolis Colts defensive back Kelvin Hayden (26) scores a touchdown after intercepting a pass while Colts defensive back Jerraud Powers (25) blocks Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Jordan Shipley during the first quarter of their NFL football game in Indianapolis November 14, 2010.  REUTERS/Brent Smith (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

Imagine what the Bengals could do if they bothered to show up for 60 minutes.

For the third time in four weeks, the Bengals spotted their opponent a sizable lead before coming back in the second half. And for the third time in four weeks, their comeback attempt fell short.

Cincy held Peyton Manning to 185 yards passing and zero touchdowns, but Carson Palmer gift-wrapped a 23-17 win for the Colts by throwing three interceptions (one of which was returned for a 31-yard touchdown by Kelvin Hayden). All told, the Bengals finished with five turnovers on the day and despite outgaining the Colts and holding Manning in check, Cincinnati lost its sixth game in a row.

For Indianapolis, tight end Jacob Tamme continues to blossom into a nice young player for the Colts. He caught seven passes for 73 yards, which was good for a 10.4 yards-per-catch average. He was targeted 10 times by Manning, more than any other Colts’ receiver.

Next Sunday makes for an interesting matchup in Foxboro, as Indianapolis travels to New England to take on the Patriots. Depending on what happens Sunday night in Pittsburgh, the Pats could be looking to avoid a three-game losing streak when the Colts come to down. (Monday morning update: Uh, or maybe not.)

2010 NFL Week 9 Power Rankings

INDIANAPOLIS - NOVEMBER 01: Jacob Tamme  of Indianapolis Colts runs with the ball during the NFL game against the Houston Texans at Lucas Oil Stadium on November 1, 2010 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Another No. 1 team falls and more shakeup in the top-5. At least things are starting to shake out as we head into the second half of the season.

As always, let’s get nasty, Ricky.

Check out Week 8’s Power Rankings

1. Indianapolis Colts
Previous Week: 2
I knew there was a reason I left the Colts at No. 2. Houston’s secondary is brutal, but Peyton Manning put on a clinic Monday night. Only he could turn Jacob Tamme into a star overnight.

2. Pittsburgh Steelers
Previous Week: 1
I could have dropped the Steelers further down but I think they were due for a loss. They were fortunate that Big Ben’s fumble two weeks ago in Miami didn’t cost them a loss and they were beat by a desperate Saints team on the road last Sunday. It was bound to happen.

3. New York Giants
Previous Week: 5
This team didn’t do anything last week so it may be unjustified to move them ahead of the Patriots. But before compiling the rankings this week I asked myself, “Would the Giants beat the Patriots this Sunday on a neutral field?” I think you have my answer.

4. New England Patriots
Previous Week: 4
Statistically this is an average team – even below average, actually. They rank 25th in total defense and 24th in total offense and yet they’re 6-1 and are currently atop the AFC East. To me, that speaks volumes about Bill Belichick’s ability to make in-game adjustments and this team’s refusal to beat itself.

5. New York Jets
Previous Week: 3
How does this team prep for two weeks to face the Packers and not manage to score a single point at home? Inexcusable.

6. Baltimore Ravens
Previous Week: 6
We’re going to find out a lot about this Ravens team over the next two weeks. They host a Dolphins team this Sunday that has been outstanding on the road and then they travel to Atlanta to play a Falcons squad that has only lost one game at the Georgia Dome when Matt Ryan starts.

7. Green Bay Packers
Previous Week: 10
I don’t feel entirely good about moving the Packers up this far after only one win, but it was a big win so they deserve it. To shut out the Jets on their home turf when New York had two weeks to prepare was impressive. The game plan Dom Capers put together was outstanding.

8. Philadelphia Eagles
Previous Week: 8
Much like the Ravens, the Eagles will be tested over these next four weeks. They host the Colts on Sunday, play at division rival Washington next week, are home against the Giants in Week 11 and are then at Chicago in Week 12. Hope Mike Vick is ready.

9. Atlanta Falcons
Previous Week: 9
I personally think that the Bucs’ season up to this point has been a mirage but the Falcons better not overlook them this Sunday. Not with the two teams having the same record and the Saints jumping back into the NFC South race with a win last week.

10. New Orleans Saints
Previous Week: 11
Huge win for the defending champs last Sunday, although I’m not ready to have them skyrocket up the rankings yet. That loss to the Browns two weeks ago still smells of something awful.

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