Peyton Manning’s legacy … it’s controversial to say the least, and it has been for a long time now.
Arguably the best passer in regular season NFL history, Peyton has struggled many times throughout his postseason career, where he sports just an 11-12 career record (1-2 in Super Bowls). While the other great of his quarterback generation, Tom Brady, has also lost two Super Bowls, his three Super Bowl wins and 18-8 career postseason record are much better than Manning’s resume can offer. The 43-8 drubbing the Broncos took earlier this month in Super Bowl XLVIII only further ignited the flames of Peyton’s greatness “authenticity.”
Over the years, Manning has amassed his fair share of “nightmare” playoff losses. Some that come to mind right away are 2004 and 2005 against the Patriots, Super Bowl XLIV against the Saints (where the image of Tracy Porter intercepting a terrible Manning pass for a return touchdown to seal the game will surely burn painfully in the minds of Colts fans for the rest of their lives), 2013 against the Ravens, and now this pure embarrassment on the biggest stage of them all.
Peyton’s career numbers are second to none. He has 64,964 yards passing, 65.5 percent completion percentage, 491 touchdowns, and a career record of 167-73. He ranks second all-time in passing yards and passing touchdowns and fourth in completion percentage. The argument about whether or not he could be the greatest quarterback to ever live is certainly there. It’s just not possible to make a really good argument about it anymore.
The facts are the facts. It might be a 53-man game, but the quarterback is the peacock in the pigeon flock. In the end, we remember the Johnny Unitas’, the John Elway’s, and the Joe Montana’s long before we remember the Raymond Berry’s, the Terrell Davis’, and yes, even the Jerry Rice’s.
And here’s a fact for you: Peyton is a hopelessly average playoff quarterback. After years of leading the Manning-playoff-apologist foundation, I’m renouncing my allegiances. I no longer have a good case.
I understand that Seattle’s defense is phenomenal, but Manning and his vaunted Denver offense never even gave their team so much as a prayer. They were thoroughly dominated from start to finish. And Peyton began making inexcusable, forced errors early in the game. Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman said after the game that his defense knew what was coming before many of the snaps.
Look at the tape. It’s true. Manning, who calls the offense on the field, never made an adjustment of any kind. The 5-15 yard blanket throws that he used to carefully tear apart every defense he faced this season didn’t work from the first snap. Never once did Manning make a committed effort to try something different. As a result, the team completely collapsed around him.
I don’t really care who you are or who you play with. When you are a 16-year veteran, five-time MVP quarterback, you don’t get beat 43-8 in a Super Bowl and expect to be considered the greatest when it’s all said and done.
To me, there’s really nothing Manning can do about his legacy at this point. He’s one of the greats. But he’s not the greatest.