Super Bowl XLIV: Peyton Manning is Who We Should Have Thought He Was

Ari HoringSenior Analyst IFebruary 8, 2010

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - FEBRUARY 07: Peyton Manning #18 of the Indianapolis Colts reacts after a play against the New Orleans Saints during Super Bowl XLIV on February 7, 2010 at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida.  (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images)
Donald Miralle/Getty Images

Before this week, I asked my friend three questions.

First I asked him, do the Colts have a better offense than the Saints?

He said, "no."

Technically he's right because the Saints had the No. 1 offense in the league while the Colts were No. 9.

I then asked him, do the Colts have a better defense than the Saints?

He said, "they're pretty even because the Saints defense creates a lot more turnovers even though they give up more yards than the Colts."

Technically he's right because although the Saints had the 25th ranked defense compared to the Colt's 18th, the Saints were ranked third in interceptions and fifth in fumbles recovered, while the Colts were 15th in interceptions and 25th in fumbles recovered.

I then asked him, Why are you choosing the Colts then?

He said two words, "Peyton Manning."

This way of thinking can work if for example we were choosing the Bulls because they had Michael Jordan in the 1990s.

However, since when has Peyton Manning been reliable in the playoffs?

Even the year he won the Super Bowl, the defense arguably carried the Colts to the Super Bowl more than Peyton Manning.

Peyton Manning before this game had a mediocre record of 9-8 in the playoffs.

His numbers of 27 touchdowns and 17 interceptions appear much better than they really are considering nine of his touchdowns came in two first round games against the Broncos.

The other day I was looking at Manning's top-10 playoff moments on and it was sad to see that most of his moments were not really legendary in the slightest bit.

His top-10 playoff meltdowns on the other hand was actually a much better list.

This year for some reason people seemed to think that Manning's playoff choking was a thing of the past. Even though the Colts had no trouble with the Jets or the Ravens, they were both 9-7 in the regular season. Should we really have assumed based upon Manning's games against the Jets and Ravens that he was different this time around?

Although besides Peyton Manning's abilities there were other reasons to choose the Colts, everyone's main reasons still centered on Peyton Manning.

Other arguments centering on Peyton Manning were that the Colts didn't lose a game Manning fully played in all season. Manning and the Colts had been extremely clutch in close games all season and were no strangers to fourth quarter comebacks.

However the truth is that, "Peyton Manning," the main reason people chose the Colts to win should have actually been the reason not to choose the Colts.

People seem to forget who Peyton Manning really was. We live in a “what have you done for us lately world” and Manning up until the Super Bowl had been legendary.

In reality though, if we looked at Manning's past playoff performances, the Saint's great team, and the Colts schedule, we probably should have seen this coming.

I believe that the Saints were always the better team. What true contender had the Colts beat all season?

The argument for the best team the Colts beat was between the Patriots, Jets, Cardinals, and Ravens.

Were any of these teams really elite teams?

The answer is an obvious no. If Nate Kaeding didn't have a meltdown, the Chargers would have likely been the first elite team the Colts played all season. Just like they lost to an elite team in the Saints, they likely would have also lost to the Chargers.

Peyton Manning needed this Super Bowl victory to cement his legacy. At the age of 33 years old, time is running out for Peyton Manning. Although, he'll likely own every quarterback record by the time he's done playing the game, he can't even be considered the best quarterback in his own generation until he gets more than one Super Bowl.

I don't believe Manning needs to tie Tom Brady in championships or surpass him because obviously Manning has been more important to the Colts than Tom Brady has been to the Patriots, especially when the Patriots had an elite defense.

However, Manning still needs one more Super Bowl to surpass Brady in my opinion and put him in the exclusive list with two time Super Bowl Champions Bart Starr, Bob Griese, Terry Bradshaw, Roger Staubach, Jim Plunkett, Joe Montana, Troy Aikman, John Elway, Tom Brady, and Ben Roethlisberger.

Although Manning hasn't had teams as good to win with than a guy like Tom Brady has, the truth is that Manning still had the teams to win with.

Regardless of what you want to say, if Manning played in the playoffs like he generally plays in the regular season, he would have more than one Super Bowl.

When people make arguments that Wilt Chamberlain is the greatest ever because of his statistics, I just laugh because he was 1-3 in Game Sevens in the NBA Finals. Just like Chamberlain, Manning has the statistics. Ultimately though, they both should have more championships, and their playoff choking, despite how much they carried their teams, were the reasons they didn't win more titles.

Manning had the chance to put himself in the argument for not only the greatest quarterback ever, but greatest player ever, but instead, as it stand now, he isn't even the greatest quarterback of his own generation.