Peyton Manning has been called many names in his 12-year career and not all of them have been flattering . Despite being the only player in NFL history to win the MVP award four times, Manning has his critics like everyone else.
Going into Super Bowl XLIV , plenty of sports writers (myself included ) were willing to concede that because of recent success, Manning was no longer the choke artist they believed him to be . But after a fourth-quarter interception that was returned for a touchdown and a Super Bowl loss, in many eyes, Manning regained that label.
“I don’t know. I really don’t do it a whole lot , especially at this point,” Manning told Marvez . “We’ve kind of moved on and are thinking about this season. You certainly try to be a better player, a better team than you were the year before."
Manning drew many comparisons to Dan Marino early in his career, more so for his incredible statistical achievements, but also because Marino never won a championship and played poorly at times during the postseason. Manning had a disastrous start in the playoffs, when he lost his first three starts from 1999-2002.
He steadily improved, however, and his record now stands at 9-9, which is a bit deceiving because he has a 6-4 record in the playoffs since 2005.
A .500 winning percentage in the playoffs is less than impressive, and for a quarterback who garners MVP consideration every year, it is unacceptable. Manning demands perfection from himself and those around him, and his attention to detail and mental prowess is unmatched among NFL quarterbacks.
For people to criticize Manning as a choke artist is harsh but somewhat warranted, and though he is among the élite and no doubt a future Hall of Fame inductee, his performance in the playoffs, at times, leaves something to be desired.
During the Colts' 2006 Super Bowl run, Manning had a quarterback rating of 70.5 and threw just three touchdown passes to seven interceptions. His rating in that Super Bowl was a mediocre 81.8, but to call last year's run more of the same is completely ridiculous. Manning had a quarterback rating of 99.0 in the 2009-2010 playoffs and threw six touchdown passes to just two interceptions.
In last year's game, where he apparently choked, he threw for 333 yards, one touchdown, one interception and had a quarterback rating of 88.5. Manning became the first quarterback in NFL history to lead a team to the Super Bowl despite having the worst rush offense in the league. A heavy burden, some argue a self-inflicted one, is laid on Manning's shoulders each and every game.
Manning has fallen short many times in his career, and on some occasions, you could argue he "choked," but in Super Bowl XLIV , he did nothing of the sort. He performed admirably up to that point, Tracy Porter simply made a great read and jumped in front of Reggie Wayne. Manning and the Colts were outplayed, plain and simple. And although he had another spectacular season, his achievements became overshadowed on one play.
Greatness is perceived by most through championships and in 2009, the Colts fell short. Colts' tight end Dallas Clark told Marvez that Manning knows that and will look back on last season and the Super Bowl as not good enough.
“He’ll obviously look back someday and say, 'That’s good, but it’s not good enough,'" Clark said. "That’s with everyone’s individual stats and accolades. We have to do something more, something better, tighten something up.”