Peyton Manning Ties Dan Marino Fourth-Quarter Comeback Record

Cold, Hard Football Facts for Sep 10, 2012



By Scott Kacsmar
Cold, Hard Football Facts Comeback King (@captaincomeback)

While Tracy Porter denied Peyton Manning a record-tying comeback in Super Bowl XLIV, he helped the new Denver quarterback clinch it with a pick six. This time it was off a late Ben Roethlisberger pass for a 31-19 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Manning is 36 years old, he led a touchdown drive that only took 36 seconds in the third quarter against Pittsburgh, and he now has 36th fourth quarter comeback wins, tying Dan Marino for the all-time NFL record.

Rank

QB

4QC Wins

1T

Peyton Manning

36

1T

Dan Marino

36

3T

Johnny Unitas

34

3T

John Elway

34

5

Joe Montana

31

6

Brett Favre

30

There is an old quote on the internet that has been widely attributed to Manning (without a source) for years now about what he thinks of fourth quarter comebacks.

“You hear about how many fourth quarter comebacks that a guy has and I think it means a guy screwed up in the first three quarters.” – Peyton Manning

Think he will change his tune when he finds out he sits at the top of that list? Manning rarely saw the field the first three quarters, including just two snaps in the third quarter as part of that 36-second touchdown drive. The Broncos even managed to lead 14-13 entering the fourth quarter.

But after the Steelers took a 19-14 lead, Manning went back to work with the no-huddle offense, and led an 80-yad touchdown drive, ending with a 1-yard touchdown pass to Jacob Tamme, and a two-point conversion pass to Willis McGahee for a 22-19 lead the Broncos would never surrender. That enabled Manning to clinch his 36th comeback win.

Finally, we have reached this point after uncertainty that Manning would ever come back to the NFL, let alone come back on any more defenses for big wins.

 

Comeback Saga: Chapter Ten

Consider this the 10th – thought not the final — chapter in a three-year tale.

When Captain Comeback first wrote about the faulty comeback record in August 2009, it was to dismiss John Elway’s 47 comeback wins, and to prove Dan Marino (36) was the real record holder.

That was the easy part. Denver counted games where Elway and the Broncos never trailed in the fourth quarter as comebacks. Since you cannot come back without a deficit, those games get discarded. When they are counted the same way for everyone, then the top three ended up as Marino having 36, and Johnny Unitas and Elway each having 34.

The hard part was getting the proper recognition for the true record holder, and it was going to take an active player breaking the record to do so. At the time, Manning had just 28 comebacks, and I had said before 2009 that “He’s the favorite to take the comeback king title, especially if the Colts play games like they did last season.”

Well the Colts did play close games, and Manning led a record seven comebacks in 2009 on the team’s way to a 14-0 start. That put Manning at 35 comebacks on December 17, 2009; one behind tying Marino.

At the time there was no Captain Comeback on Cold, Hard Football Facts, nor was I writing at any of the other sites I now write for, so it left me rather unprepared to cover the story should the record fall.

The first opportunity came in Super Bowl XLIV, and the aforementioned Tracy Porter put an end to that one in New Orleans’ victory. But even after five more opportunities in the 2010 season, the comeback win never came for Manning.

There were close calls, including a game in Jacksonville, and especially in the 2010 Wild Card game against the New York Jets when the Colts took the lead with 0:53 left.

But the Colts never finished off these games like Denver did Pittsburgh, and Manning missed the entire 2011 season after four neck operations, putting his career and any more record achievements in doubt.

Then the biggest comeback of his career came, and that was not in the fourth quarter Sunday night. That was in the beginning of the game, or even the beginning of Denver’s training camp this year, as Manning simply returning to play in the NFL at all is an unbelievable comeback.

Tying the record with a classic performance in prime-time, that was just icing on the cake. We have seen Dan Marino (1994) and Tom Brady (2009) return to the NFL after missing the majority of the previous season, and they had thrilling comeback wins in their season openers.

But none did it like Manning: on a brand new team, against Dick LeBeau’s defense in the league’s featured game of the week, and with a comeback that puts him in the record books.

We really did get to witness a historic comeback on Sunday night, and in more ways than one.

 

Peyton Manning vs. Dan Marino

One of the shameful parts of this whole saga is that Miami Dolphins’ legend Dan Marino is never going to get the attention he really deserved (and deserves) as the NFL’s Comeback King. For years it was Elway incorrectly holding the title, and soon it will be Manning all by himself.

Marino earned sole possession of the record with his 35th comeback win on December 19, 1999. Three weeks later, he would get his 36th comeback against Seattle in the playoffs on January 9, 2000. It was the next to last game of Marino’s career. How does that compare to Manning’s 36th comeback?

QB

Dan Marino

Peyton Manning

36th 4QC Win

1/9/2000

9/9/2012

Career Game #

259

228

4QC Record

36-46 (.439)

36-43 (.456)

Manning did it in 31 fewer games, and his record at fourth quarter comeback opportunities, was eerily close to Marino’s.

Here is the side-by-side list of each quarterback’s 36 record-setting fourth quarter comeback (4QC) wins. Games in red are postseason games, and the “DEF” represents the largest deficit overcome in the fourth quarter for that win.

 

Dan Marino - Career 4QC Wins

Peyton Manning - Career 4QC Wins

No.

Date

Opp.

Result

DEF

No.

Date

Opp.

Result

DEF

1

12/4/1983

at HOU

W 24-17

7

1

11/15/1998

NYJ

W 24-23

6

2

11/4/1984

at NYJ

W 31-17

3

2

9/26/1999

at SD

W 27-19

6

3

11/11/1984

PHI

W 24-23

3

3

10/17/1999

at NYJ

W 16-13

3

4

10/6/1985

PIT

W 24-20

3

4

10/31/1999

DAL

W 34-24

3

5

11/10/1985

NYJ

W 21-17

3

5

11/7/1999

KC

W 25-17

1

6

12/8/1985

at GB

W 34-24

4

6

12/19/1999

WAS

W 24-21

3

7

1/4/1986

CLE

W 24-21

4

7

12/26/1999

at CLE

W 29-28

9

8

11/16/1986

at BUF

W 34-24

4

8

10/1/2000

at BUF

W 18-16

2

9

11/1/1987

PIT

W 35-24

3

9

10/22/2000

NE

W 30-23

9

10

12/20/1987

WAS

W 23-21

5

10

10/13/2002

BAL

W 22-20

1

11

10/16/1988

SD

W 31-28

11

11

11/24/2002

at DEN

W 23-20 OT

3

12

10/15/1989

at CIN

W 20-13

3

12

12/15/2002

at CLE

W 28-23

9

13

11/19/1989

at DAL

W 17-14

4

13

12/29/2002

JAX

W 20-13

3

14

9/9/1990

at NE

W 27-24

4

14

10/6/2003

at TB

W 38-35 OT

21

15

10/7/1990

NYJ

W 20-16

3

15

11/23/2003

at BUF

W 17-14

11

16

12/9/1990

PHI

W 23-20 OT

10

16

12/28/2003

at HOU

W 20-17

14

17

1/5/1991

KC

W 17-16

13

17

9/19/2004

at TEN

W 31-17

7

18

11/24/1991

at CHI

W 16-13 OT

10

18

12/26/2004

SD

W 34-31 OT

15

19

9/14/1992

at CLE

W 27-23

3

19

9/18/2005

JAX

W 10-3

3

20

9/27/1992

at SEA

W 19-17

5

20

10/1/2006

at NYJ

W 31-28

4

21

10/11/1992

ATL

W 21-17

3

21

10/8/2006

TEN

W 14-13

6

22

11/22/1992

HOU

W 19-16

3

22

10/29/2006

at DEN

W 34-31

5

23

12/20/1992

NYJ

W 19-17

7

23

1/21/2007

NE

W 38-34

3

24

12/27/1992

at NE

W 16-13 OT

7

24

12/16/2007

at RAI

W 21-14

1

25

9/5/1993

at IND

W 24-20

3

25

9/14/2008

at MIN

W 18-15

8

26

9/4/1994

NE

W 39-35

3

26

10/5/2008

at HOU

W 31-27

17

27

10/16/1994

RAI

W 20-17 OT

7

27

11/9/2008

at PIT

W 24-20

3

28

11/6/1994

IND

W 22-21

9

28

12/18/2008

at JAX

W 31-24

10

29

11/27/1994

at NYJ

W 28-24

10

29

9/21/2009

at MIA

W 27-23

7

30

10/1/1995

at CIN

W 26-23

4

30

11/1/2009

SF

W 18-14

2

31

12/3/1995

ATL

W 21-20

11

31

11/8/2009

HOU

W 20-17

4

32

9/7/1997

TEN

W 16-13 OT

7

32

11/15/2009

NE

W 35-34

17

33

10/25/1998

NE

W 12-9 OT

3

33

11/22/2009

at BAL

W 17-15

1

34

10/10/1999

at IND

W 34-31

9

34

11/29/2009

at HOU

W 35-27

6

35

12/19/1999

SD

W 12-9

3

35

12/17/2009

at JAX

W 35-31

3

36

1/9/2000

at SEA

W 20-17

4

36

9/9/2012

PIT

W 31-19

5

 

Here is a summary of some performance data from these 36 games for each quarterback. Not all comebacks are created equal, obviously.

The stats on strength of schedule (“SOS”), and the wins over teams with a winning record (“>.500 wins”) and bad record (“<=.250 wins”) exclude the Pittsburgh game, because we do not know what their final record will be.

 

Summary

Dan Marino

Peyton Manning

4QC Wins

36

36

Home

20

15

Road

16

21

Avg. Points Scored

23.3

25.8

Avg. Points Allowed

19.3

21.2

SOS

0.449

0.509

Passes per Game

39.5

36.9

Passing Yards per Game

293.8

276.8

INT%

2.88

2.11

Threw 2+ INT in Game

12

5

Completion %

59.10%

65.40%

YPA

7.43

7.50

Passer Rating

85.1

94.2

>.500 wins

13

16

<=.250 wins

8

2

Avg. Deficit

5.50

6.42

10+ Point Deficit

6

7

Largest Deficit

13

21

 

Manning has often done it on the road, and needs one more road comeback win to tie Joe Montana (22) for that record. Marino holds a three-to-one postseason advantage.

Manning has done it against better competition, with 16 wins over teams that had a winning record that season. Marino did it six more times against teams that won no better than 25 percent of their games (think 4-12 or worse). Not sure what that says about Marino or the Dolphins in general.

 

What’s next?

Now that the record is tied, the next logical step is for Manning to break it.

There was a lot to be worried about with Denver’s defense in the game, as Ben Roethlisberger was shredding it on third down most of the night.

The Broncos are going to be involved in a share of high-scoring, tight games this season, so Manning should have multiple opportunities. The only question is exactly how much attention he will get for the specific record.

Heading into the week, the Denver Broncos finally acknowledged Manning’s fourth quarter wins this year in their Week 1 press release for the game. They did not mention comebacks at all, but did go with two references to the same stats the Elias Sports Bureau started using in 2011 in the NFL Record & Fact Book. That means regular season game-winning drives.

Elias handles the stats for NBC, so NBC flashed the same graphic during the post-game interview with Manning. Yes, Manning (46) trails Marino (47) in regular season game-winning drives, which should almost certainly be tied and probably broken this season.

Still, it is not comebacks, which is always how the media references these stats. Also, it is not Denver removing their incorrect Elway material. But at least it is a step in the right direction.

How much longer will there be a tie between Manning and Marino? Hopefully not for the near-33 months we had to wait for Manning to tie the record. But now that he is back, and appears to still be the same Peyton Manning, it should only be a matter of weeks before we have a new comeback king.

Official? Maybe not just yet by NFL standards. Real? It is an undeniable cold, hard football fact that the Comeback King is in Denver, but it's not John Elway.

It's Peyton Manning.

 

Scott Kacsmar is a football writer/researcher who has contributed large quantities of data to Pro-Football-Reference.com, including the only standardized database of fourth quarter comebacks and game-winning drives. You can visit his blog for a complete writing archive. Please send any questions or comments to Scott at smk_42@yahoo.com, or you can follow him on Twitter at @CaptainComeback.


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