Peyton Manning's career will come to a somewhat poetic end when he formally announces his retirement on March 7, 2016, exactly four years after he was released by the Indianapolis Colts on March 7, 2012.
It's a coincidence that likely has more to do with a March 9 deadline to make a decision before his salary with the Denver Broncos became guaranteed than a way to tie a fancy bow on his career. But 18 years after Manning was drafted with the top pick in the 1998 NFL Draft, there are no shortage of weird quirks and stats to parse through in his career.
Some are purely coincidental, others come with basic logic and others will stir debate about where his place is among the all-time greats.
Peyton crushed the NFC South and AFC North
There are three entire NFL divisions that have two wins each against Manning. He retires with a 24-2 record against AFC North teams and a 10-2 record against the NFC South. While the AFC North teams could only beat Manning twice in 26 meetings, they at least recorded 26 interceptions, keeping his career passer rating at 95.4.
NFC South teams weren't as successful at forcing turnovers, recording just eight interceptions and allowing 32 touchdowns in 12 matchups, for a career passer rating of 113.4 for Manning against the division. Of course that doesn't include postseason matchups, so a certain interception against the New Orleans Saints didn't affect those statistics.
He didn't do well with the AFC East
But thanks to the first few seasons of Manning's career and a long rivalry with the New England Patriots, the AFC East goes down as the division that always had his number. He retires with a 28-28 record against the AFC East and a passer rating of 86.0. No other division recorded more than 15 wins against Manning or kept his passer rating under 93.
It's not just the Patriots either. Only eight teams held his career passer rating against them under 90 and the Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins, New York Jets and Patriots were all in that group. The four AFC East teams were all in the group of seven teams that managed to hand Manning at least four losses.
That's largely due to the fact that Manning spent the first four seasons of his career in the AFC East before realignment sent the Colts to the AFC South. Those years included 3-13 and 6-10 seasons in 1998 and 2001, respectively.
Peyton ate your soul on fourth down
With a career record of 186-79 as a starter in the regular season, there weren't many times when Manning was forced to throw on fourth downs, as those moments typically come in come-from-behind efforts. Of his 9,380 pass attempts, only 84 were on fourth down and yet he still managed to throw 15 touchdowns.
In situation when he needed six yards or less on fourth down, Manning completed 47 of 63 passes for 524 yards with 13 touchdowns and no interceptions. That's a staggering passer rating of 138.5 in fourth-and-short and fourth-and-medium situations.
Peyton's choking narrative is as true as you want it to be
Manning played in 266 career regular season games and threw more than 9,000 passes, so it feels like he would've accomplished every passing feat imaginable, but he never once threw a touchdown in overtime.
There's a long-standing narrative that Manning is a choke artist who struggled in the clutch and there are statistics that both support and refute that. His zero touchdowns and three interceptions in his career overtime appearances certainly suggest the narrative is true, but he also retires as the all-time leader in game-winning drives (56) and fourth-quarter comebacks (45).
While there's no question that he was a dominant force in the regular season, his career in the postseason is what will remain debate-worthy. Thanks to three wins and a Super Bowl ring in his final playoff run with the Denver Broncos, he retires with a winning record in the postseason at 14-13. But he generally was worse in each round he advanced and had a 77.4 passer rating in four Super Bowl appearances compered to a 102.0 rating in seven wild card games.
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