For more than a decade, Manning heard critics follow their acknowledgments of his greatness with this: He could only be remembered along with John Elway, Joe Montana and Terry Bradshaw if he won a Super Bowl.
Now, Manning can always remind them by flashing his championship ring.
The doubts started when Manning was in college at Tennessee. He never beat rival Florida, and the year after he left, the Volunteers won a national championship.
In Indianapolis, the questions continued. When he started 0-3 in the postseason, people wondered if he'd ever win a playoff game. When he finally did that, people said he couldn't beat New England. When he did that, the critics contended he still couldn't win the biggest game of all.
He did that, too.
After taking about a quarter to figure out the Bears' defense, Manning dissected it like a surgeon -- carefully and aggressively. He methodically moved Indianapolis by masterfully finding open receivers, calling runs and converting third downs.
He threw a 53-yard touchdown pass to Reggie Wayne with a Chicago defender draped around his waist. And even an early glitch on kickoff coverage that led to Devin Hester 's 92-yard return for a touchdown to open the game couldn't derail the Colts.
Manning wouldn't let it.
He led them on a drive to a field goal, then gave them the lead when Dominic Rhodes scored on a 1-yard touchdown run. And Manning put the game away by setting up Adam Vinatieri for two second-half field goals. The defense took care of the rest with Kelvin Hayden's interception return for a touchdown.
But it was Manning who showed the world he could excel on the grandest stage in sports.