Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos‘ season ended with an embarrassing performance in Super Bowl XLVIII. Despite having a record-breaking season on offense from a statistical standpoint, the Broncos were dominated in each and every phase of the game by the Seattle Seahawks. While most of America sat in amazement with their jaws hovering two inches from the floor at how poorly Manning performed, this game signified something much more significant than just a bad performance from one of the game’s greatest quarterbacks.
The Seahawks, behind the leadership of Pete Carroll and Russell Wilson, have officially and emphatically ushered in a new era of NFL football. No longer will general managers feel the need to agonize over the pocket passer or the scrambling quarterback, because in this new era of the league a quarterback without mobility is a sitting duck for the majority of elite defensive units.
It was tough not to feel sorry for Manning as he was hurried on just about every throw he attempted which resulted in his three turnovers for the game. It’s hard to believe that his performance wouldn’t have been better if he had been blessed with the ability to escape from the relentless Seahawks’ pass rush.
It’s somewhat ironic, but when Manning was drafted in 1998 he drastically changed the way the quarterback position was played with all his antics at the line of scrimmage. Now, in the twilight of his illustrious career, the game has seemingly passed him by, and he may have to come to terms with that sobering realization.
Suppose the Broncos somehow manage to mend their bruised egos this offseason for another run at an AFC Championship, and standing in the way of their goals is a team like the Seahawks, San Francisco 49ers or even the Carolina Panthers. Unfortunately, Denver will likely face the same result against the much more physical teams that will likely represent the NFC.
I understand that Manning is the ultimate competitor, but this performance should signify a stopping point for him as his chances of winning another championship are all but completely gone. Manning should feel extremely proud of the way he fought back from neck surgery to perform at an All-Pro level, but the league now belongs to quarterbacks like Andrew Luck, Colin Kaepernick, Cam Newton and of course Wilson.
Manning is obviously still reeling from the Super Bowl loss, but when he allows himself to reflect on his accomplishments this season he may decide to actually call it quits. I believe that retirement would be a wise decision for Manning, because defenses like Seattle’s are quickly making life unbearable for the classic pocket quarterback.