Peyton Manning has done such a thorough job of coming back from his neck issues that anything less than excellence in his postseason will be used to fuel the only criticism facing his legendary career.
Now, when we talk about criticisms, this is all relative to Manning's standing as one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play the game.
In postseason play, the 36-year-old is 9-10 with a quarterback rating of 88.4. He has earned that by completing 63.1 percent of his passes for 29 touchdowns to 19 interceptions. These are solid numbers, but they are all below what Manning does in the regular season, where he has a career quarterback rating of 95.5.
Even in the year Manning won his only Super Bowl, his 81.1 rating in the big game was his highest of that memorable playoff run.
Manning clearly has the stats and reputation to be considered one of the greatest quarterbacks to chuck the pigskin, but he does not have a string of amazing postseason performances to post up as the defining moment of his career.
These postseason issues are going to start bubbling up in the public consciousness once again as Manning and the 12-3 Broncos are in prime position to make a deep playoff run.
This leaves Manning with the chance to put this criticism to rest or fuel the fire, and this is just half of the source of pressure weighing on Manning as he enters the postseason.
The Broncos, a playoff team from a year ago, took a flier on Manning despite his health concerns because they wanted to make a run at the Super Bowl, not just playoff appearances. They identified Manning as the key to that plan before the season, and his spectacular play during the season has only reaffirmed that.
If Manning plays well and the Broncos lose, there will not be a flood of public opinion saying Manning's acquisition was a bust. However, if he struggles and they lose, Broncos fans will be left wondering what the point was all along.
Not to mention all those critics, and commentators like myself, who will have just another example to point towards while saying Manning does not belong on the short list of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play.
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