Manning was poised to tie or win the game today with under a minute to play, when Patriots safety James Sanders intercepted a pass intended for Colts receiver Pierre Garcon—clinching the game for New England.
The final minutes further proved that Peyton Manning is the guy you want to lead your fantasy football team to glory, not your hometown NFL team.
Manning is a great quarterback, who will own countless records once he has finished his brilliant career. But the fans and media alike have given him far more praise than he has deserved, because for all the regular season achievements Manning has accomplished, when the playoffs arrive, he is just an average quarterback.
The best players in every sport maintain their elite level play into the playoffs, and the best of the best, raise their game when the lights shine brightest.
Peyton Manning has played in two Super Bowls, and is 1-1. In 2006, he beat the Chicago Bears on a rainy night in Miami, and last season the New Orleans Saints finished their storybook season beating the Colts 31-17.
Manning's playoff career is full of embarrassing losses. Losing to the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2005 at home, with one of the Colts' better teams ever hurt a lot, but the two most painful losses were the two defeats Manning suffered vs. the Patriots in the 2003 and 2004 seasons.
In the ferocious snow and wind, Manning was taken advantage of time and time again by the Patriots defense. In the 2003 AFC championship game, Manning was intercepted four times (three by Ty Law).
Following the 2003 season, the NFL changed the rules on how physical defensive players could be with wide receivers five yards beyond the line of scrimmage.
With the new rules benefiting the Colts vaunted offense, the Patriots still beat Manning 20-3 the next season in the AFC divisional round.
Last year's Super Bowl in Miami was a classic Peyton Manning meltdown. En route to a possible game tying touchdown, Saints cornerback Tracy Porter intercepted Manning and returned it for a touchdown, sealing the title for New Orleans.
When comparing playoff statistics, Manning cannot begin to compare with the all time great NFL quarterbacks.
When you look at Manning's playoff stats they are not too bad. He has more touchdowns than interceptions, and has completed over 60% of his passes. However, when you look at each individual game, many of his performances came in times where he was forced to throw the ball, many of which were times he was losing in the second half.
Tom Brady, Joe Montana, Jon Elway, Troy Aikman, and Terry Bradshaw were all very good regular season performers, but all of them raised their game in the playoffs. Each of them has at least two Super Bowl wins, and a Super Bowl MVP.
They were not as prolific as Manning during the regular season, but they made the important throws when the biggest games were to be won or lost.
Peyton Manning is most comparable to Dan Marino. A great player, an all-time player, but a guy unable to take his team on his shoulders and carry them to glory.
When we look back at Manning's career, we will do in the fashion as Marino's right now. Although Manning was able to win the big game once when Marino could not, we will remember his playoff performances by his failures.
Not only has Peyton Manning been equipped with several of the best offensive teams ever, but he has had the luxury of playing in a dome his entire career, which has greatly benefited his wide receivers.
I'm never going to claim Peyton Manning is not an all-time quarterback. He is one of the smartest and most talented players to ever play the position. He has re-written the record books, and will no doubt continue to do so before he retires.
It's great to win 10-12 games every year, and win four NFL MVP awards, but the best are judged by the amount of silver Vince Lombardi trophies sitting in their team's trophy cases.
Peyton Manning is a great player, but if I needed a quarterback to lead me to a Super Bowl and win it, his name wouldn't even cross my mind.
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