Peyton Manning’s Legacy as Great Quarterback Takes Critical Hit During Brutal Super Bowl Performance

by Kent Sterling

The confetti fell like tears all around Peyton Manning as he finished short of his goal yet again.

The confetti fell like tears all around Peyton Manning as he finished short of his goal yet again.

Peyton Manning doesn’t play special teams, so no one can blame him for Percy Harvin’s kickoff return for a touchdown.  And the safety on the first offensive play of the game was on the center, but Manning sure didn’t play well when the ball was in his normally sure hands.

One of the best quarterbacks of all time, Manning had a chance during yesterday’s Super Bowl to elevate his standing among the greats of the game.  After throwing two interceptions, looking panicked throughout, and failing to make the plays needed to keep his Broncos in the game, Manning is hardly blameless for the 43-8 ass beating.

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If Manning is physically able to play at a high level for another two seasons, he has a very good chance to own most of the NFL’s significant records at quarterback.  Regular season excellence is nice, but the lights shine brightest during the postseason.  Careers are made and lost in January and February, and that is when Manning has been mediocre at best.

It’s not just the 11-12 postseason record that Manning now sports.  He can’t be the scapegoat for every loss or a savior during every win.  Football is a team game, but his performance during the postseason is a stark contrast to what he has routinely done during his 15 stellar seasons.

In 13 postseasons, Manning’s teams have been one-and-done eight times, and in seven of those, his quarterback rating was over 100 just once.  In his 12 losses, Manning has totaled 13 picks and 13 touchdowns.  In the 11 wins, Manning has thrown for 23 TDs and nine interceptions.

In 23 postseason games, Manning has posted a sub 100 quarterback rating 17 times.  Those poor-to-mediocre performances led his teams to a 6-11 record.  That leaves six games where he was 100+.  Manning’s record in those games is 5-1.

In the regular season, Manning’s teams are a crazy 167-73.

There is no doubt that Manning has been one of the best regular season quarterbacks in the history of football.  His intellect, work ethic, and physical talent has resulted in mind boggling stats and ten 12+ win seasons.  Not only will Manning be a five-time MVP, his approximate value of 254 to his teams is tied with Brett Favre as the best ever, according to pro-football-reference .com.

Where does Manning stand compared to the meaningful records for quarterbacks?

  • Manning is 768 completions behind Favre after leading the NFL with 450 in 2013.  At that pace, he’ll pass Favre during game ten of the 2015 season.
  • Manning is 6,874 passing yards behind Favre.  At a pace of 5,000 yards per season, Manning will pass Favre with his final pass of the fifth game of the 2015 season.
  • Manning is 1,717 pass attempts behind Favre.  In 2013, Manning averaged just over 41 attempts.  At that pace, Manning will pass Favre during week ten of the 2016 season.
  • The first record that Manning will own over Brett Favre is touchdowns thrown.  Manning is only 17 TDs behind Favre, and that record should fall sometime during the 5th, 6th, or 7th game next year.
  • Favre’s record for total offense is 70,195 yards.  Manning is 6,274 behind, and at a conservative 4,500 yards per year, he will pass Favre in the first half of game seven in 2015.

Those records, plus the excellent branding earned by Manning and his laser rocket arm will lift him into the conversation as one of the best ever at quarterback, and on the periphery of talk about the most valuable player in NFL history.

But the overall mediocrity of Manning’s body of postseason work will always haunt him, and unless there is a reversal of fortune that results in at least one more Super Bowl Championship, he will never achieve a consensus ranking as the top gunslinger of all-time.

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Are all those Colts and Broncos postseason losses attributable to Manning?  No, but they were losses, and winning is the name of the game.  Maybe he deserved to win multiple championships, but like William Munny (Clint Eastwood) says to Little Bill (Gene Hackman) as he prepares to kill him in Unforgiven, “Deserve’s got nothin’ to do with it.”

Manning might be on the Mount Rushmore of quarterbacks, but after last night, he’s not likely to ever stand alone.

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