Before my father passed away in December 2003, he predicted that Peyton Manning would never win a Super Bowl. That was probably around the year 2002. I didn’t understand why he thought that or what the circumstances were at the time, but I finally realized a couple of truths in January 2004 during the AFC Championship game between the New England Patriots and Indianapolis Colts.
Three years following 2004, Peyton Manning and the Colts won Super Bowl XLI against the Chicago Bears.
Maybe my dad and other Manning doubters would have been right if the Bears actually had a competent quarterback to have matched the decent running game they buffed that year (Rex Grossman led the Bears along with the rushing attack of Thomas Jones and then-Chicago media-proclaimed bust Cedric Benson).
Remember Super Bowl XLI? The Bears had a quick lead before Peyton Manning, Dominic Rhodes and Co. wore down the Bears’ highly touted defense. The Bears’ offense had a little mojo risin’ while Thomas Jones was getting his game on before they were pretty much kept off the field in Miami. When Grossman started coughing up the ball via a fumble and an interception that was returned for a touchdown (Kelvin Hayden), the game was sealed as the Colts went on to defeat the Bears 29-17.
Oddly enough, the Colts scored 17 points in last Sunday’s Super Bowl XLIV contest against the Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints. The Saints quarterback is a little bit better than Rex Grossman (sarcasm alert): Drew Brees. He also found glory by being named Super Bowl MVP.
Up until Super Bowl XLI, I always said that Manning couldn’t win the big games. From then on, up until Super Bowl XLIV, I always thought that nobody would ever stop Manning again.
And nobody did. . . until he stopped himself. He overthrew passes to Austin Collie and Pierre Garcon here and there on Sunday evening. He rekindled the previously forgotten “Manning face” (dubbed by ESPN’s Bill Simmons) with a camera-caught pissed off episode on the sidelines. Then, on a drive where he was surely going to tie the game up at 24, threw a football right into the mits of the “NFL Legend Killer,” Tracy Porter, which was returned for a touchdown that sealed the game 31-17 for the Saints.
As I sat in my living room with old friends, I couldn’t help but to shake my head and wonder why Peyton Manning, the NFL’s greatest REGULAR SEASON quarterback, had to miss up on so many opportunities during the game. I’m not blaming Manning, because you have to give credit to the New Orleans defense for standing up against this mamoth-minded football film studying freak that is Peyton freakin’ Manning, but at the same time you have to second guess Manning’s decisions.
While Manning may be the best quarterback to ever play the game in some people’s minds, Drew Brees outplayed him with a nearly flawless game that had his Saints reign in Super Bowl XLIV.