You remember this Al Davis quote.
It’s so simplistic in its brilliance, because no singular position means more in sports than the quarterback.
Sometimes you just need your QB to be good for one season or half a season (Trent Dilfer replaced Tony Banks for the Ravens Super Bowl or a Doug Williams who replaced Jay Schroeder), you catch lightning in a bottle and find a Tom Brady who is great for over a decade or you draft a kid even though you signed a high profile free agent and the kid ends up being special like Russell Wilson.
But, make no mistake, you need a quarterback and if you don’t have one you will struggle and struggle mightily for years and years.
That is why when you look at Peyton Manning so many people are torn in their opinions. Peyton is beyond a good quarterback or even a great quarterback, he is a legendary quarterback. Because of that he has been praised as such for many years. That is the other part of being a quarterback even though quality “teams” win games; people understand the quarterback position is so valuable; they get the majority of the praise and the majority of the blame. You can’t have it both ways, if you accept the adulation you have to be prepared to take responsibility for the failure.
The first game of the season Peyton Manning threw 7 TDs and I said.
“Nothing Manning does in the regular season will mean much if he doesn’t win the Super Bowl.”
Over the upcoming weeks, as media and fans heaped praised on Manning and often gave him the GOAT (Greatest of all time) title, I would put this was a set up for a potential Manning downfall. When the Broncos broke all the scoring records, Manning broke all these passing records and won his 5th MVP, it just all felt like a setup.
Peyton Manning didn’t lose the Super Bowl single-handedly, but when you are put on a pedestal and touted as the best, you simply have to play better. When you throw 55 TDs in a season, being average in the Super Bowl just doesn’t cut it, but we shouldn’t be surprised.
Here are the raw numbers.
- His regular season record is 186-79
- His postseason record is 11-13 (1-2 in Super Bowls)
- His teams have been eliminated 9 times in the 1st rd. of the playoffs, with 6 of those games at home.
- His teams have scored 20 points or less in 11 of the 13 postseason losses.
- When he won the Super Bowl in 2006 he had threw 3 TDs and 7 INTS
- He holds a NFL regular season record of 45 fourth quarter comebacks, but only has one in the playoffs.
- He has been on four 13-3 teams, four 12-4 teams and one 14-2 team that lost in playoffs.
- 9 of the 13 losses came when the Colts/Broncos were favorite.
- His defense only gave up over 24 points in five of the 13 losses (if you eliminate overtime against San Diego and Super Bowl Pick 6 that would be three games the D give up over 24 points in regulation).
It isn’t that Peyton is a bad playoff quarterback that isn’t fair, because you have to be pretty good to have played in 23 playoff games.
The problem is we expect our legendary players to be come up big when it matters the most and for whatever the reason that just hasn’t happened with Peyton. When we talk about the GOATs in other sports the first thing we mention are their championships.
Michael Jordan talent was amazing before he ever got a ring, but its the rings is why most people consider him the GOAT (going 6-0 with legendary performances during the most critical times). Eventually, LeBron will be judge not by his numbers, but by his jewelry.
Gretzky, Ruth, Petty, Federer, Serena, Tiger, Nicholas and I can go on and on, if you want to be the GOAT you need to have those multiple championships and it is something Peyton just doesn’t have.
There is a reason that Brett Favre with all his great statistics isn’t discussed as the GOAT. There is a reason that people had Marino over Elway until Elway was blessed with Terrell Davis and his whole legacy was changed because of those two rings. In the end quarterbacks like Matthew Stafford will have better stats than Joe Montana, but if I need to win a game who would you take? Montana was 16-7 in the playoffs. In the biggest games on biggest stage he was 4-0 in Super Bowls with 11 TDs and 0 INTs and a passer rating of 122.4. That is how you get into the GOAT discussion.
When you look at the Two legendary QBs that are heading toward the end of their careers Peyton Manning and Tom Brady the only thing that can separate them is Brady is 3-2 in Super Bowls and 18-8 overall in playoffs. You can’t be the GOAT when people trust your little brother more in the playoffs than you.
It’s not fair to heap all the blame on Peyton Manning, but I asked you this when Peyton Manning won his ring in 2006, did anyone discredit his average performance or the fact they were playing against Rex Grossman? Of course not, because in the end all that matters is if you win or lose (ask Kobe in Game 7 against Celtics or Big Ben against the Seahawks). The don’t take the ring away from you even if you personally play poorly.
The Seahawks are an excellent team and they were the better team on this day. They took a team averaging 38 PPG and held them to 8 points in the biggest game of the year. Once again they showed a well prepared physical defense is Peyton’s Kryptonite.
You are going to hear a lot of criticism for Peyton and a lot of excuses. Both sides will probably have valid points, but in the end Peyton for the 2nd time had a chance once and for all to shut up his critics on the field and put himself in the GOAT discussion and he came up short. This is why his legacy while great will feel somewhat incomplete. In my opinion, he will never be the GOAT, but simply THE GROAT.
The Greatest Regular Season Quarterback of All-Time