If you know me, you know that nobody totes the Manning bag more than I do, for both brothers. Heck, Cooper is awesome too, at whatever it is he does. This Super Bowl was about Peyton Manning and his ascending the list of great quarterbacks of all time. For most people they thought it was going to be a coronation, and while many thought the Colts would win they weren’t as big a favorite as everyone thinks. Most of the Vegas sports books had the line at 4.5. I thought before he even made this Super Bowl that he was somewhere in the top 5, so this whole article is going to come from that biased viewpoint.
Now, I know several of the people who read this blog are very anti Manning, both Peyton and Eli. We also live in the media over hype era so I can see how people can be sick of Peyton being shoved down their throats. But that facts are the guy is great and this loss doesn’t do that much to diminish his place in history.
I believe Super Bowls can enhance your legacy more than it can damage your legacy. Yes Manning made a critical error at a critical juncture, but its not like he played bad. He completed 69% of his passes, threw for over 300 yards, had the same yards per attempt as his counter part, and an 88.5 QB rating. All of those numbers are better than his MVP performance three years ago. Had his team won he was the MVP. Also, most experts agree the interception was broken into thirds; 1/3 bad decision by Manning, 1/3 terrible route and job coming to the ball by Wayne (who looked as if he was upstaged by the magnitude of the game all night) and 1/3 great play by Tracey Porter. His big Interception wasn’t Neil O’Donnell-esque or even Favreian. He didn’t play his best game, by his lofty standards or anyone else’s, but he certainly wasn’t tragically awful in the big game like many a hall of fame QB have been, even some all time greats (see stats below).
Losing the big game has never permanently damaged anyone’s reputation, especially if you already have a ring. Take Favre for example, his place in history is no further down the rung of great QB’s because he lost Super Bowl XVI to the Broncos. Most people forget the Packers were almost a two touchdown favorite in that game, but the game enhanced Elway’s legacy but didn’t do irreparable damage to Favre’s. I think most people have Favre in the top 10 area somewhere but nobody says, boy he lost that Super Bowl I think he is only 12th all time. Nope, they say, hey he won a Super Bowl so he is in the discussion. The only guy who gets a pass on any of this is Dan Marino, why, because most people who watched him play knew he was great, regardless off Super Bowls. Well to me Manning passes that same eye test. You watch him and you know you are seeing unbridled greatness.
Lastly, this is nowhere near the final act. Peyton just finished year 12 of his career and is only 33 years old. Now that used to be old in QB terms, but not for a guy who has had no major injuries, doesn’t get sacked (24 times over the past 2 seasons), and including the playoff has started 210 consecutive games. This was supposed to be an off year for the Colts, dare say rebuilding. A new coach with no NFL head coaching experience, the loss of a hall of fame receiver and all Peyton did was win all but one game, won his fourth MVP trophy and had statistically perhaps his best season; completing a career best 391 passes at a 68.8% clip and his second best overall yardage and yardage per game season.
I truly believe he will play in at least one more Super Bowl, there is no reason not to think so. He wins 2 out of every 3 games throughout his career. Remember Elway capped off his career by winning back to back Super Bowls in years 15 and 16 (although one of those was against the Falcons, so does it really count?). As far as regular seasons numbers are concerned he will soon have no equal. His greatness cannot be overlooked and to me one pass in yesterdays game doesn’t damage that.
Four of the all time greats, Montana, Favre, Bradshaw and Starr have all had better than average performances in all their Super Bowls. But a host of all time greats have had at least one pedestrian performance including Brady, Staubach, Tarkenton, Elway and Aikman.
SUPER BOWL STATS (Combining all games)
Johnny Unitas- 42% cpt. 99 ypg. 1-2 td-int 55.5 rating
Dan Marino- 60% cpt. 318 ypg. 1-2 td-int 60.9 rating
Jim Kelley- 55% cpt. 225 ypg. 3-7 td-int. 63.4 rating
John Elway- 50% cpt. 226 ypg. 3-8 td-int 65.9 rating
Fran Trakenton- 51% cpt. 162 ypg. 1- td-int. 44.9 rating
Peyton Manning- 67% cpt. 290 ypg. 2-2 td-int. 85.2 rating