This is about to be a harsh criticism of one of the best players ever to put on a helmet at the NFL level.
Though Peyton Manning is well deserving of all the praise and accolades he receives, there comes a point where numbers just don’t cut it — just ask Dan Marino. Manning at least has one Lombardi Trophy on his mantle, but being left at the Super Bowl alter for the second time in his career so decisively against a team that many predicted his Denver Broncos would steamroll has to raise a few red flags.
Now this isn’t about to go all legacy and discuss whether or not Manning is worthy of being called one of the greatest all-time. There’s no debating that fact which is proven by Terry Bradshaw’s four Super Bowl wins and approximately zero mentions to even make the top-five quarterbacks to ever step on the field.
What is up for discussion, however, is just how effective Manning’s ridiculously record-setting statistics truly are if they don’t equate to wins. Now obviously a 13-3 regular season record along with two playoff victories aren’t erased by one Super Bowl loss, but coming up small in the biggest occasions has to be a concern about the signal-caller’s actual pedigree.
This was his chance to get that gorilla off his back known as his younger brother, Eli Manning, and cement himself as a clutch QB. 167 wins and 73 losses don’t just materialize, and Peyton has certainly done enough to be considered clutch in the regular season. But the elephant in the room (forgive all the animal references) has to be his less than stellar playoff record.
Though five of his trips to the postseason lasted longer than one game, the other eight ended with one-and-done performances. This year got him up to .500 in the playoffs prior to the Super Bowl, but the loss dipped Manning’s record in January when it matters most back down to 11-12. It’s impossible to totally ignore his absurd .696 winning percentage during the regular season, but there comes a point where the .478 mark in the postseason hogs the spotlight.
Once a bride and very regularly a bridesmaid, Peyton Manning truly has some limitations when it comes to a clutch gene. His 51 career game-winning drives would beg to differ, but that number is tied at the top all-time with a certain other quarterback many people still pick on due to his Super Bowl-less resume (Marino).
Stats boost overall resumes, but winning championships adds legacy-building moments to those credentials. Manning’s 34-of-49 passing for 280 yards was impressive in the big game, but his two interceptions stick out as the real black marks on those numbers. The talk following Super Bowl XLVIII should be focused on the Seattle Seahawks – although it took me until the final sentence to even mention them – but the fascination with Manning overshadows even one of the more impressive Super Bowl game plans in recent memory.