THE SANTA CLARA
February 6, 2014
No. 18 now has five NFL Most Valuable Player awards, 13 Pro Bowl selections, 23 games of playoff experience but only one Super Bowl ring to his name. As of this moment, having just one championship title around his belt puts a blemish on the otherwise stellar career of the Denver Broncos’ Peyton Manning.
It’s still fair to say that the 16-year veteran is the league’s best regular season quarterback of all-time.
This year alone, Manning rewrote the record books in impressive fashion. He threw for 55 touchdowns, 5,477 yards and his Broncos’ high-octane offense put up 76 touchdowns, all three statistics setting NFL records.
Entering the playoffs, it seemed as though this could have been his year. No defense — no matter how physical, no matter how stout — could stop Manning from torching the opposition with his arm and mind.
But when it comes to crunch time under the bright lights and on the biggest stage, Manning’s mystique fades into the darkness.
Taking on the Seattle Seahawks’ No. 1-ranked defensive unit in Super Bowl XLVIII on Sunday, Manning collapsed.
From the first offensive snap, Denver’s leader was uncomfortable and pressured relentlessly. He was picked off twice and lost the pigskin once more after he had it poked away while trying to get rid of a pass. Simply put, he was frustrated early and often and could never create any rhythm to bring his team back from the depths.
Now, I don’t blame Denver’s 43-8 blowout loss solely on Manning. His offensive line couldn’t sustain a clean pocket for much of the game. His defense couldn’t play fundamental football, failing to wrap up ball carriers numerous times. And the special teams unit couldn’t stay disciplined on kickoff lane coverage.
But as the quarterback, Manning is liable to take most of the flack for Sunday’s Super “L.”
I want to believe that Manning is indeed the greatest quarterback to ever step foot on the gridiron. But in my book, success is measured in championships, and Manning simply comes up short.
His fingers simply do not brandish the same amount of rings compared to the likes of Joe Montana or Tom Brady. It’s still hard to even believe that baby brother Eli has more championships than older brother Peyton.
In the big games, Manning tends to falter more often than not, just as he did on Sunday.
When it comes to being called the greatest of all time, you have to perform exceptionally well in January and February.
Following Sunday’s debacle, he is now 11-12 in career playoff games. Those 12 defeats are the highest number of losses among starting quarterbacks in the history of the game. To add, he is now 1-2 on Super Sunday.
It pains me to say, but as of this moment, I can’t consider him to be the NFL’s greatest quarterback of all time because of his inability to come through when it matters most.
Contact Brendan Weber at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (408) 554-4852.