That was apparent this past season as Manning and his Broncos broke numerous records on their way to Super Bowl 48. More specifically, Manning seized Tom Brady‘s single-season touchdown record with 55 long bombs and Drew Brees‘ single-season yardage record with 5,477 yards. Despite all the glitz and glamor of an offensively historic season, though, Denver couldn’t get the job done in the big game against the Seattle Seahawks.
As we know, statistics may never lie, but sometimes they prove futile on the grandest stage of them all. Not only did the Broncos’ defense completely implode, succumbing to every Seattle drive, but Russell Wilson and the Seahawks’ offense ran roughshod through Denver’s secondary the entire night en route to a 43-8 victory.
Though it was a disappointing game and a catastrophic defeat for the Broncos to say the least, this isn’t the first time a team had a record breaking season only to be left heartbroken in the midst of the Championship contest. Remember when I said that Manning broke Brady’s infamous single-season touchdown record? Well that same year, Brady and the New England Patriots found themselves with a perfect record of 16-0 on pace to face Peyton’s brother Eli Manning and the New York Giants in Super Bowl 42. Well, it was almost perfect.
Despite New England’s historic season, they fell just short of perfection, being defeated by a final score of 17-14. Brady’s campaign was one for the ages, but nobody remembers second place. He concluded the year throwing 50 touchdowns and 4,806 yards. This broke Manning’s previous record of 49 touchdowns that he set in 2004 with the Indianapolis Colts.
Like Brady, Peyton’s flawless season came to an abrupt end — an ending that may be a decisive conclusion to Manning’s illustrious career which only resulted in one Championship. Is that still enough to truly solidify and seal Manning’s legacy as one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play the game?
Is there really any more that he needs to accomplish?
Over the past few seasons, the Broncos have gone out on a limb to supply Manning with an influx of pieces. Whether it be receiving weapons, a superb offensive line or a revived defense, Denver seemed primed for Super Bowl glory. Unfortunately, that was not the case which has now led head coach John Fox and crew finding themselves back to an inglorious drawing board.
Though their mediocre defense was the Broncos’ main liability, the responsibility of defeat always seems to fall on the man in charge. And in this case that would be Manning. Peyton simply could not get the job done (two interceptions and 280 passing yards) proving his critics right while maintaining a career playoff record of 11-12 in the process. Is it finally time for Manning to hang up his boots and call it a career? After multiple neck surgeries and with a league beginning to evolve around a more mobile, agile quarterback, it may just be time.