Top 5 Peyton Manning Moments

John DegrooteCorrespondent IIOctober 16, 2012

Top 5 Peyton Manning Moments

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    After a tough first half, Peyton Manning played a nearly flawless game in the second half of the Denver Broncos' 35-24 comeback victory against the San Diego Chargers on Monday Night Football.

    Monday night's game was a statement that read loud and clear to the rest of the NFL—Peyton Manning is back.

    Manning has had some great moments throughout his pro career, so where does his most recent feat rank?

    Here are the top five moments of Peyton Manning's career so far.

5. 2006 AFC Championship Game vs. New England Patriots

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    With the AFC crown up for grabs, Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts found themselves down 21-3 against Tom Brady and the New England Patriots.

    Manning threw for 349 yards and one touchdown in the game, but the Colts had more than talent on their side.

    The win seemed like some kind of divine intervention. The Colts got touchdowns from two offensive lineman who recovered fumbles in the end zone and defensive lineman Dan Klecko recorded the only Colts touchdown of the day.

    "I said a little prayer there on that last drive," Manning said after the win (h/t ESPN). "I don't know if you're supposed to pray or not in those kinds of situations, but I did."

    The win earned the Colts a berth in Super Bowl XLI and was the first step in silencing the critics who said Manning could not win the big games.

4. 2003 Monday Night game vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    Peyton Manning has a knack for staging huge comebacks on the stage of Monday Night Football.

    With five minutes remaining, Manning's Colts were down 35-14 and it looked like Indianapolis would suffer their first loss of the season.

    A week after throwing for 314 yards and six touchdowns in the Colts' 55-21 rout of New Orleans, Manning was 34-of-47 for 386 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.

    That one Manning interception was turned into a touchdown by Ronde Barber, giving Tampa a three-touchdown lead late in the final quarter.

    Manning would regain his poise and lead the Colts on three-consecutive scoring drives in just over three minutes to send the game to overtime.

    Manning launched the game-winning drive from his own 13. Crucial third-down completions of eight yards to Harrison, 16 yards to Reggie Wayne and nine yards to Troy Walters kept the drive alive. Mike Vanderjagt would boot a 29-yard field goal in overtime to complete the epic comeback.

    Indianapolis became the first team in NFL history to win after trailing by 21 or more points with less than four minutes to play in regulation.

3. 2003 AFC Divisional Playoff Win vs. Denver Broncos

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    Peyton Manning had his playoff coming out party against his future team when he led his Colts to a win over the Denver Broncos in the divisional round of the 2003 Playoffs.

    He completed 22 out of 26 passes for 377 yards and five touchdowns. In the three playoff games Manning had played in prior to this game, he only recorded up 558 yards and one touchdown—combined.

    Manning played like the NFL MVP, which he was named for the first time of his career in this season. Manning threw for touchdowns on each of the Colts' first four possessions, dominating a Broncos defense that limited him to only 146 yards and no touchdowns just 14 days before in the regular season.

2. 2012 Monday Night Game vs. San Diego Chargers

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    If NFL fans were not sure if Peyton Manning was back, his performance on Monday Night Football in Week 6 answered that question.

    After a lackluster first half where the Broncos fell behind 24-0 due to special teams gaffes and an interception return, Manning came out from the halftime intermission on fire. Manning went 13-14 for 167 yards in the second half and led his new team to the biggest comeback in Monday Night Football history.

    Manning would finish the game with 309 yards, three touchdowns and one interception.

    This game was even bigger for Manning than the Broncos.

    Despite having having a stellar start to the season where Manning only had one game with a turnover (three interceptions against Atlanta in Week 2), there were still doubters out there that Manning could be the player he was before missing the entire season last year recovering from multiple neck surgeries.

    Manning has now thrown for over 300 yards in four out of six games this season and has a 14-4 touchdown to interception ratio.

    Expect to hear M-V-P chants begin filling Mile High Stadium in the coming weeks.

1. 2006 Super Bowl XLI vs. Chicago Bears

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    Manning, who had been criticized for failing to win big games, exorcised those demons with a win on the biggest stage in American sports—the Super Bowl.

    After engineering a brilliant comeback against the Patriots in the AFC Championship Game, Manning and the Colts quickly overcame a first quarter deficit to take the lead before half and never look back.

    Manning took home Super Bowl MVP honors, throwing for 247 yards and one touchdown.

    "Peyton is a tremendous player, a great leader," Colts head coach Tony Dungy said after the game (h/t NFL.com). "He prepares, he works, does everything you can do to win games and lead your team. If people think he needed to win a Super Bowl, that is just wrong. This guy is a Hall of Fame player and one of the greatest ever to play."

     

    What do you think? Where does Manning's Monday night performance rank? Is he the leading candidate for MVP? Let us know in the comments below.