Peyton Manning, in 15 seasons played, ranks second in passing yards (64,964), 4th in career completion percentage (65.5%), 2nd in TDs (491) … upon Manning’s 18th touchdown pass of the 2014 season, he will pass Brett Favre as the all time leader and trails Favre by 7,000 yards to take over the all time lead in passing yards. He is a field general the likes of which the NFL has never seen, his command of the offense, his understanding of defensive formations, and he’s genuinely a funny guy judging from his television commercial career. Statistically, the greatest pocket passer in the history of the NFL. Yet all these records have translated to an 11-12 career postseason record. Sure, he has the title Dan Marino or Jim Kelly could never attain. In 2013, Manning briefly became a career .500 postseason quarterback before getting blown out in historic fashion by Seattle in Superbowl 48. In an article regarding Joe Thornton, I wrote about “it” … a little extra production when it counts in postseason moments. Peyton Manning doesn’t have “it” and that’s why Denver is not going to win Superbowl 49. Do we measure success on statistics or championships in 2014? By the standard of championships, Peyton may not be the best QB in the family, yet he’ll be remembered as the greatest pocket passer ever. One of the all time greats. Really? 11-12 career postseason? 1 Superbowl?
Remember, this website tries to rely on evidence. Let’s take a look at some evidence regarding Manning’s first 8 seasons in the NFL.
Manning led the Colts to the playoffs 6 times in first 8 seasons going 0-3 in his first 3 tries in the playoffs including a 41-0 drubbing at the hands of the New York Jets in 2002 where Manning completed 42.5% of his passes and threw 2 INTs. In 2003 and 2004, they lost to New England both seasons, Manning throwing for a total of 475 yards, 1 TD, and 5 INTs. In 2005, 14-2 Indianapolis bowed out to eventual champion Pittsburgh in the first round. Heading into 2006, the year the Colts won the Superbowl, Manning posted a career postseason record of 3-6 with 2200 yards, 15 TDs, 9 INTs. Pedestrian numbers, far from “it”.
The year Manning and the Colts won the Superbowl and if it weren’t for the miracle comeback in the AFC Championship Game against nemesis New England, we would be discussing Manning as the greatest QB to never win the big game. Indianapolis overcame a 21-3 deficit in the second half, in epic fashion, propelling the Colts to their first Superbowl in the Manning era. Peyton posted a 79.1 QB rating in that game. In the Superbowl 41 win against the Chicago Bears, Manning posted an 81.8 QB rating, throwing for 247 yards with 1 TD and 1 INT against a very good Bears defense and this was the first Superbowl played in rainy conditions.
2007 – 2010 Post Superbowl Letdowns
2007 saw the Colts go 13-3, a first round bye, and another 1st round exit, this time to the upstart San Diego Chargers. 2008 gave Manning his 3rd league MVP award and his 6th exit from the playoffs, in 9 trips, after 1 game again to the San Diego Chargers. 712 yards, 4 TDs, 2 INTs in 2 games. He played well, just not well enough. 2009 saw Manning’s 4th MVP, second straight, a 14-2 record, and a direct march into Superbowl 44 against the New Orleans Saints, where Manning had decent numbers, 333 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT … the INT was a pick 6, part of 18 unanswered Saints’ points, leading to a 31-17 victory for New Orleans. In 2010, Manning’s last season in Indianapolis, Peyton exited the NFL playoffs after 1 game for the 7th time in 11 trips to the postseason. And he’s the greatest QB ever?
Manning misses a game for the first time in his career. All of them. He wanted to get himself healthy for another run at a second Superbowl, becoming a multiple superbowl winning QB with his career stats possibly makes him the greatest ever. Also, little brother Eli wins his second Superbowl in 4 years.
Manning signs with the Denver Broncos and silences any questions regarding his health, passing for 4659 yards, 37 TDs against 11 INTs, and leads Denver to a 13-3 record where they’re promptly defeated, in the first round, by eventual champion Baltimore. 66% of the time when Peyton Manning plays in the preseason, he exits after 1 game.
Manning has a record setting season, wins his NFL record 5th MVP, leads Denver to a second consecutive 13-3 season, is brilliant in the AFC Championship Game against nemesis New England, and then Superbowl 49 happened. A humiliating 35-8 defeat, seeing Manning post a 79.5 QB rate, 280 yards, 1 TD, 2 INTs … including another Superbowl pick 6. 1-2 career in the Superbowl, 11-12 career in the postseason.
In 2014, Denver are 13/2 favorites to win the Superbowl. John Elway and company are all in for a championship for this season. And, maybe 2015, if nothing else than Manning to pass Favre on the all time passing yards list. My money is elsewhere in 2015 for the champion of Superbowl 49.
And, take a look at this older evidence regarding Peyton Manning
In 1994, in the 4th week of the University Football Season, the Peyton Manning era began in Knoxville at the University of Tennessee. Over the next 4 seasons, the Volunteers were in discussion for a national championship. In 1995, Tennessee went 10-1 culminating with a 41-10 Citrus Bowl win over Ohio State. In 1996, Tennessee went 10-2 culminating with a 48-28 victory over Northwestern in the Citrus Bowl. In 1997, Tennessee went 11-2. In 3 seasons, Manning’s record was 31-5. Three of those losses were to Steve Spurrier and the Florida Gators. In 1995, 1996, and 1997 the Gators all but ruined Manning’s hopes for a national championship. In 1997, because university football was broken, a victory in the Orange Bowl, despite the early season loss to Florida, coupled with a Michigan loss to Washington State in the Rose Bowl, would have given the crown to Manning and the Volunteers. Tennessee lost 42-17. And oh yeah, in 1998, the first post Manning year in Knoxville, the Volunteers won the national championship.
Peyton Manning didn’t have “it” in college and he doesn’t have “it” in the NFL. The evidence makes the conclusions, I simply publish them.