For the second time in the past five seasons, Peyton Manning fell one win short of enhancing his legacy by putting a second Lombardi Trophy on the mantle.
This begs the question: Will Peyton ever earn that elusive second Super Bowl ring?
Like Tom Brady, Peyton Manning's losing the battle against timeHe won't get a second ring. That's not a statement about Peyton Manning's play, just a recognition of how difficult it is to get back to the big stage.
I remember leaving Super Bowl XLVI in Indianapolis, thinking that the odds were strongly against Tom Brady and Bill Belichick ever getting that close to another title. They haven't been back to the Super Bowl since, despite being part of the most consistently successful organization in the league.
The Broncos' defense is good, not great. The Broncos' coaching staff is also good, not great. Denver should remain a title contender for the next couple of years, but so many things have to come together for a team to win a championship. Manning, like Brady, is running out of time.
Peyton's championship window just closedNo, he won't. Peyton had, in my opinion, the greatest regular season ever by an NFL quarterback ... and got thumped in the big game. Manning, a top-five QB of all time in the regular season, is 11-12 in the playoffs and 1-2 in the Super Bowl. It's underwhelming. And he's not getting any younger.
Seattle, San Francisco, Green Bay, Arizona, Philadelphia, New Orleans and Carolina will enter next year with more well-rounded teams than Denver. Notice they are all in the NFC, the superior conference right now.
How many more opportunities will he realistically get, given the NFL's parity?For the first time, I'm starting to have doubts that Peyton Manning can win another one. Not because I think he's declining -- he clearly wasn't declining this season, and a loss this excruciating could drive him even harder -- and despite Sunday's rout, I don't subscribe to the idea that Manning chokes in the biggest games. But parity being what it is, how many more times can we realistically expect the Broncos to get to the Super Bowl before Manning retires in another few years? I don't know if the Broncos could win one the way they did for John Elway -- without Manning carrying them there. This is a team built around Manning, so if he starts an inevitable decline in a few years, I don't think Denver can prevail.
Manning doesn't need to win another one for me to think he's one of the two or three greatest quarterbacks in football history, by the way. But if we never want to hear the word "legacy" again, he needs one more.
Appears Peyton will finish with one title, which affects his standing among all-time QBsIt's hard to use the word "never," but I think this might have been Peyton's best chance to get a second ring. You have to remember how difficult it is to get to the Super Bowl in the first place. As great as Manning has played throughout his career, this was only his third Super Sunday. My feeling is he will not win another title.
In looking at his legacy, it's clear Peyton certainly should be in the discussion about the greats, but I could not put him ahead of quarterbacks like Joe Montana, Terry Bradshaw, Johnny Unitas or Otto Graham, just to name a few.
Manning definitely can add another ring, but his legacy's secure even if he doesn'tOf course Peyton can add rings -- he's still playing at a very high level. But the best news is that no matter what happens, his legacy can't be negatively affected.
Prior to Sunday, Manning was the fourth-greatest quarterback of all time (behind Joe Montana, Tom Brady and John Elway). Because of what he already has achieved in his career, Peyton's place in this elite class of QBs is secure. He can't drop below Dan Marino and the rest because he's losing Super Bowls, so he's playing with house money. If he wins another, his standing among the elite foursome could rise. But if he never makes it back, who's going to surpass him? There's no one even close right now.
Next season could be Peyton's last, so the odds are against himWithout judging Peyton Manning unfairly, or seeming like I'm piling on, I would lean toward "no."
I don't think this loss will deflate him from going full bore next season. He's a competitor and a workaholic who, once he gets in the groove, will put this defeat behind him by virtue of staying busy. All it would take for him to win another Super Bowl would be for Denver to get there and have good things happen early, to build confidence instead of, "Oh no, not again."
Unfortunately, time is running out. His mobility is mostly nil and his arm strength is certainly down, and you saw the trouble he had with defensive pressure from the Seahawks' front seven. (That's the thing that usually gets the older quarterbacks.) If Manning only plays one more year, it's difficult to say with any confidence that he will win a second ring. If he has five years left? Sure. But the thinking here is that 2014 might be it.
Like I told you back in December, Manning's just not built for the postseasonLike the Ghost of Christmas Future, I gave my (exceptionally prescient) answer back in December.
As I said then, some styles just aren't conducive to postseason success.