Protection issues: Manning struggles deep

Peyton Manning had minimal protection in Sunday's bad loss to San Diego. The NBC telecast showed how quickly he had to get rid of the ball and the consequences he suffered when he kept it a beat longer.

So it’s no surprise that he struggled to throw the ball deep in the loss to the Chargers.

ESPN Stats & Information took a look:

On Sunday, Manning struggled on throws of more than 10 yards. On throws inside that distance, Manning completed 28-of-33, finishing with a passer rating of 101.9. But beyond 10 yards, Manning had as many completions as he did interceptions and finished with 5.8 passer rating. He was 3-for-15 for 66 yards with three interceptions.

It's actually a continued theme for Manning this season. Entering Sunday, Manning had just a 73.3 passer rating on throws of more than 10 yards, only 22nd-best in the league (minimum 50 attempts). That put him behind quarterbacks including Ryan Fitzpatrick, Matt Hasselbeck and Shaun Hill.

Pierre Garcon is Manning’s primary deep threat, and he’s been inconsistent and unreliable. He’s not always been in the right spot for Manning. But even if he is, Manning needs to have the time and space to set and throw in order to find him, and he certainly wasn’t getting that against a Chargers pass rush that really exposed the Colts’ line.

His most reliable guy even had a tough game. After entering the game with just four drops in 10 games this season, Reggie Wayne dropped three passes Sunday night. With seven drops this season, he's matched his combined amount of drops from 2008 and 2009.