So I guess Jim Mora did something right. Unlike the 2000 playoffs…
“People always say, and I disagree with this totally, that you learn more from sitting on the bench and learning than you do playing. That’s ridiculous in my opinion. You learn a little by sitting there and watching stuff over time, but you learn a helluva lot quicker by going out there and playing and making mistakes and doing things right if you’re the right kind of guy.
“Now, they say you’re going to destroy a guy’s confidence? Well, if that’s going to destroy a guy’s confidence then you don’t have the right guy. That’s my opinion. And when you make this guy the very first pick in the draft then you better have the right guy — someone who can fight through this stuff, a guy who can bounce back from his mistakes and disappointments and become a better player because of it. I’ve always believed that, and that’s what we did with Peyton.”
The way Mora sees it, the breakthrough for Manning occurred in the seventh game of the 1998 season when the Colts traveled to San Francisco. They didn’t beat the 49ers, but they should have. A couple of blown calls and a second-half collapse produced a 34-31 loss, but that wasn’t what mattered: Manning’s development was, and for the first time in his career he didn’t throw an interception. He also threw three touchdown passes and produced the first 100-point passer rating of his career.
“I just sat there and said, ‘We have something special here,'” Mora said.