Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
I wrote an article leading up to the Super Bowl about how the questions over Peyton Manning's legacy would continue until he won another Super Bowl.
Bleacher Report's Christopher Hansen, following Manning's 400-yard performance in the Broncos' 26-16 victory over the New England Patriots, wrote about how regardless of what happens in the Super Bowl, "Manning has answered his doubters." Hansen stated the following in regard to Manning's legacy:
While some may argue that Manning needs to win another Super Bowl to quiet his critics, even a terrible performance isn't going to change the numbers drastically. He is widely regarded as the best regular-season quarterback of all time, and his performance in the postseason is now starting to mirror that dominance.
A second ring will certainly cement Manning's legacy, but to say he struggles in the postseason is simply not true. Manning is one of the best quarterbacks ever to play the game no matter when or where that game is played.
Regardless of how you felt a week or two prior to the Super Bowl being played, it's now hard to argue this belief following the Broncos' 43-8 loss to the Seahawks in Super Bowl XLVIII—Manning's legacy is damaged following this loss.
Nobody is arguing that Manning isn't one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time. No one is arguing that Manning isn't possibly the most dominant quarterback in the history of the game.
But the fact of the matter is this: Manning has struggled on the biggest stage of them all, and Super Bowl XLVIII was no different.
Yes, there was no single culprit. Yes, the Broncos as an entire team struggled. And yes, there were dropped passes and lapses in offensive line protection.
But excuses need to stop being made for Manning. He struggled, and he looked lost in doing so.
As likable as Manning is as a player and a human being, and as dominant as he has been during the regular season, it cannot be overlooked how much he struggles when the pressure is on.
No more deflecting blame onto the kicker. No more deflecting blame onto the defense. No more deflecting the blame onto every person not named Manning.
He tends to struggle when it's the big game. Until he proves otherwise, the talk over Manning's legacy and his ability to perform in the clutch will not stop.
When you've set the standard so high and you're playing to be the greatest of all time, you simply cannot perform the way Manning did in Super Bowl XLVIII.