Fans filed into Metlife Stadium on February 2 to watch Super Bowl XLVIII, the most anticipated sporting event of the year. The Seattle Seahawks’ top-ranked defense faced off against the Denver Broncos and their top-ranked offense, led by quarterback Peyton Manning. The stage was set for Manning to leave his mark on history as one of the greatest quarterbacks in football history.
Unfortunately for Manning and the Broncos, the Seahawks were the ones who left a mark on history. Seattle’s defense outplayed Manning in every aspect possible, routing the Broncos 43-8. The loss pushed Manning’s career playoff record below .500, to 11-12.
After the game, skeptics began to doubt Manning’s place in history. “Peyton should definitely be in the discussions of greats, but I could not put him ahead of quarterbacks like Joe Montana or Terry Bradshaw,” said Charley Casserly, an analyst for the NFL Network.
Manning, a five-time Associated Press National Football League Most Valuable Player, Super Bowl MVP, and 13-time Pro Bowler, has a résumé that speaks for itself. The question is not whether he’s a Hall of Famer, but whether he is the greatest QB in history. The critics don’t see Manning as the greatest of all time, but the statistics prove otherwise.
This season—the sixteenth of Manning’s career—was arguably the best season a quarterback has ever had in the history of the NFL.
According to MileHighReport.com, Manning set a new record for passing yards, 5,477 in a single season, which surpassed the previous record of 5,476 yards thrown by Saints’ QB Drew Brees in 2011. Manning also set a new record for passing touchdowns at 55, shattering Tom Brady’s previous recording of 50, which he threw in 2007. The Denver Broncos, with the aid of Manning, also shattered the single season scoring record with 606 points this season.
Many skeptics have pointed out that most of Manning’s eye-popping statistics are from the regular season. But, what about in the playoffs? Statistics still show Manning’s success, even with his sub-par win-loss record in the playoffs.
CBS Boston took a statistical look at all of the quarterbacks who have played in at least three Super Bowls. Manning had a 68.2 percent completion percentage, which was better thanTom Brady (64.5 percent), John Elway (50 percent), Joe Montana (68 percent), and Terry Bradshaw (58.3 percent), who was 4-0 as a starter in the Super Bowl.
These eye-popping statistics have all come a couple of years after Manning had four neck procedures and missed the entire 2011 season. Manning was not sure if he would ever play at the same level as he had in the past. “I had my concerns, because the doctors just couldn’t tell me anything definite. They wouldn’t say, ‘You’re going to be back at this time, at 100 percent strength level,’” Manning told the media during Super Bowl week.
Now, at age 37, Manning is in the home stretch of this career. He trails only Brett Farve for passing touchdowns and passing yards in a career. According to Pro-FootballReference.com, Manning is only 6,874 yards away from tying the record for yards and 18 touchdowns away from surpassing Brett Farve’s all-time passing touchdown record.
Unlike the sports media, Manning isn’t too worried about his legacy or being considered the greatest QB in history. “I’m not sure you can have a legacy when you’re 25 years old, or even 37. I thought you had to be like 70 to have a legacy,” he said, according to ProFootballTalk.com.