Peyton Manning has been one of the best quarterbacks to ever play the game during his illustrious career and is coming off the greatest statistical season for a quarterback ever in 2013 with the Denver Broncos. That prolific offense has carried Denver all the way to Super Bowl XLVIII where they face off against the Seattle Seahawks, who rank as the No. 1 defense in the NFL this season. It’s a clash of styles on the biggest stage in football in conditions that will likely be less than ideal for Manning and the high-flying Broncos. But that’s just another opportunity for the future Hall-of-Famer to prove his critics wrong.
Despite rewriting the record books during the regular season, there were many who felt that the Broncos would once again be bounced from the playoffs in the AFC Divisional Playoffs, adding to Manning’s dubious “one-and-done” reputation in the playoffs. But the Broncos prevailed and silenced the critics who said that Manning couldn’t win in the playoffs only to run into a new set of critics who were convinced that Manning could not beat Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. While his overall record against Brady and the Pats remains less than stellar, Manning put those doubters behind him with one of his best games ever in the playoffs and improved to a perfect 2-0 against New England in home playoff games.
Now, Manning takes the Broncos into the Super Bowl where he faces yet another round of critics. This time, the knock on Manning is that he can’t win in the cold. There is some statistical backing for that argument as Manning’s numbers drop with the temperature (as most passing stats do). In 15 regular season games when the temperature is below 40, Manning’s completion percentage drops from a career mark of 65.5 percent to 63.7 percent and he has 14 interceptions in those 15 games. In the playoffs, he’s completed just 56.4 percent of his passes in cold-weather games and thrown nine interceptions and his yards per attempt drops to just 5.53 compared to a career mark of 7.69 (8.31 yards per attempt in 2013).
But Manning has made a habit of overcoming the things people keep telling him he “can’t” do since joining the Broncos. He couldn’t possibly be the same quarterback he was before his neck surgery (he’s better). There was no way he could win in the playoffs outside of a dome (ask the San Diego Chargers about that). He certainly couldn’t beat Tommy Terrific and the Pats to go the Super Bowl (400 yards and two touchdowns say different). Can Manning prove the critics wrong one more time and bring the Lombardi Trophy to Denver in a cold-weather Super Bowl?