Before kickoff of the second half Monday night, ESPN analyst Jon Gruden remarked that Peyton Manning's late-career surge evoked memories of John Elway.
On the surface, the comparison worked. Like Manning, Elway was a premier quarterback of his generation who sustained success late in his career with the Denver Broncos.
But Gruden's point crumbled under closer inspection. Elway still was a quality QB at the end of his career, but his heyday was behind him. Feel free to remember the helicopter spin, but don't forget Terrell Davis.
You simply can't say the same thing about Manning, and Monday was a helpful reminder. Manning put on a clinic against an overmatched Oakland Raiders defense, finishing 32 of 37 for 374 yards with three touchdown passes in a 37-21 win.
Manning's 86.5 completion percentage represented the most accurate game of his career. Along the way, Manning set an NFL record for the most touchdown passes in NFL history through a season's first three games.
Yes, it's important to keep things in perspective here. The Raiders aren't very good. But Manning has never been better. He's thrown 12 touchdowns without an interception. His passer rating remains north of 130.
This is "Madden" set on the "rookie" level.