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Peyton Manning playing his best football when time is running out

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Mile High Sports pointed out in a post yesterday that Peyton Manning has been fairly masterful in the fourth quarter this season, despite is shortcomings overall. It was a good read, but left me wondering how much better he actually is in the fourth quarter.

What I found was that Manning isn't just good in the fourth quarter, he is also good in the second quarter or rather when time is running out on his possession. Looking over his situational stats for 2015, Manning is throwing most of his touchdowns (and interceptions) when time is running out in the half or game. His passer rating is much higher as his is yards per attempt and first down percentages.

Quarters Att Comp Pct Yds Avg Lng TD Int 1st 1st% 20+ Sck Rate
1st Quarter 33 19 57.6 152 4.6 27 0 0 10 30.3 1 2 69.3
2nd Quarter 49 34 69.4 374 7.6 45 3 3 21 42.9 5 5 86.6
3rd Quarter 38 25 65.8 215 5.7 43 1 1 9 23.7 1 2 78.3
4th Quarter 34 20 58.8 227 6.7 34 2 1 11 32.4 2 1 86.3
4th Quarter within 7 34 20 58.8 227 6.7 34 2 1 11 32.4 2 1 86

This leads back to the Denver Broncos desire to go down kicking and screaming. The defense is doing its job and Manning is coming up big when its needed the most. Granted, many times its to make up for his own mistakes, but the fact remains that he is making up for those mistakes - effectively cancelling them out and one-upping them for good measure.

In fact, looking back on Manning's often ill-timed turnovers, he has responded with drives on the very next possession with points. I believe this is Manning learning how to become more of a game manager, while also resurrecting his Hall of Fame self when needed to undo a mistake. As James Merilatt of Mile High Sports pointed out:

Take a look at the team’s final drives against Baltimore, Kansas City, Detroit and Minnesota; in each instance, Manning engineered a masterpiece with the game on the line. He milked the clock against the Ravens, drove 80 yards for a game-tying score at Arrowhead in the game’s waning moments, put the dagger in the Lions and set up the winning field goal against Minnesota.

How many other quarterbacks in the league would be 4-for-4 in those situations? Who would look better behind center in each of those scenarios?

Whatever the case may be, Manning playing his best football when the game is on the line is exactly what we need out of a quarterback now and in January.