Manning, Foles dominate with play fakes

Not everyone could make it look as easy as it did for Drew Brees against the Dallas Cowboys' porous pass defense on Sunday night. Here’s a look at some of the other top performers from Sunday’s contests.

Manning and Foles win with play-action

Peyton Manning and Nick Foles each maintained pace with Tom Brady in their own way and a key reason for that was the play-action pass.

Manning matched Brady in 2007 for the most touchdown passes through nine games (33) and did so on a day in which he was 9-for-9 for 187 yards with three touchdown throws on play-action passes. Manning leads the NFL with 1,317 yards on play action this season, 431 more than the next-closest passer (Brady).

Highest Total QBR
Among QB In 2nd Year As Starter

Foles matched Manning with nine completions (on 14 attempts) and three touchdowns on play-action passes, netting 172 yards. He joined Brady as the only two players in NFL history with 10 touchdown passes and no interceptions in a two-game span in a single season. Brady did that in 2007.

Not surprisingly, Manning and Foles are 1-2 in the NFL in QBR on play action passes this season. Manning is a smidge ahead, 95.4 to 95.3.

You didn’t have to be great to win

A couple of quarterbacks continued their winning ways despite tough days on the field.

Cam Newton posted his lowest Total QBR in a win in his career (19.3), but the Carolina Panthers won their fifth straight by beating the San Francisco 49ers. Before Sunday, the Panthers had been 1-12 in games Newton started in which his Total QBR was below 40.0. The only other win was against the Jaguars in 2011.

New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning finished even worse than Newton, with a 15.2 Total QBR. That’s the lowest for him in any win since 2007, when he beat the Buffalo Bills with a 2.7 Total QBR.

Manning’s Total QBR was the third lowest by any quarterback in a win this season. EJ Manuel won with a 9.8 against the Baltimore Ravens in Week 4 and Geno Smith won with a 14.8 against the New Orleans Saints in Week 9.

Sophomore slump

Though Foles was great again and Russell Wilson had a 92.3 Total QBR (his seventh game above 90 in the last two seasons), two other second-year quarterbacks struggled significantly.

Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck’s 13.6 Total QBR was the worst in a single game in his career. Luck had all sorts of trouble with the Rams blitz. He finished 3-of-11 for 16 yards, an interception and two sacks in situations in which the Rams sent at least five pass rushers.

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick had a 7.7 Total QBR, his lowest this season. Kaepernick was 0-for-6 on throws deeper than 10 yards downfield, including a game-ending interception.

It is the first time in his career Kaepernick hasn’t completed a deep pass with multiple attempts.

QBR spotlight: Andy Dalton’s inconsistency

Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton finished with a 17.3 Total QBR in a loss to the Ravens, a week after he had a 13.5 Total QBR against the Dolphins.

Dalton has been up and down all season. He had three straight games with a Total QBR below 40 in Weeks 2 through 4, followed by four straight games over 50, before his current two-game slide.

This is nothing new for Dalton: In 2012, his performance had even more drastic swings. Dalton had similar highs where his Total QBR averaged over 75 for three- to four-game stretches and had lows in which his Total QBR averaged below 35 for four-game stretches.