General Douglas McArthur once said ‘Old soldiers never die. They just fade away.’
If only Denver Broncos QB Peyton Manning were so lucky. The Sheriff of Sling has been exponentially losing his zip over the last four years, and the midseason plantar fasciitis injury to his right foot has stolen the steam off those one-time wobbly laser beams that have now turned into flailing pigeons.
Meanwhile, Denver fans are hoping against hope that this backfield lawman is successful in his last stand against the villainous forces of Bill Belichick, Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. Well, at least that’s how it would play out if you live in the Rockies.
For those up in the Northeast, the narrative would probably sound something like them having one of the greatest coaching/quarterback tandems in the history of the National Football League. This is a luxury that was not afforded Peyton, who has had four coaches in his career and has taken four of them to the big game.
But however the picture is painted, whatever the outcome on Sunday, this will likely be the last time these two battle-tested combatants will square off with a bid to the Super Bowl on the line. Heck, there’s a strong chance they might not ever play one another ever again.
With that in mind, we prepare ourselves for what everyone hopes will be a competitive and fitting swan song for this Hall of Fame pairing. If you were to look at Peyton Manning’s numbers on paper of 71,940 passing yards, 539 touchdowns and a career passer rating of 96.5, you would think he’s won a hundred Super Bowls.
Well, not quite. Manning only has one, while Brady, and his phenomenal career numbers of 58,028 passing yards, 428 touchdowns and a 96.4 passer rating is looking for his fifth Super Bowl ring. Indeed, such a feat might catapult him over the immortal Joe Montana as the best quarterback of all-time.
No other sport relies on teamwork quite like football. The linemen are in the trenches, running backs are rumbling tanks and the athletes on the outside are often weapons of mass production when it comes to explosive plays.
But not everyone can audible into a more favorable coverage, be savvy enough to snap the ball before the defense is ready or throw the game-winning touchdown. That privilege belongs to the quarterback.
The he numbers tell us of the enormity of Manning’s feats, but not his 5-11 all-time record versus the Patriots. Brady and Manning are tied at 2-2 when facing one another in the playoffs, meeting three times in the AFC Championship game in which Peyton has a 2-1 advantage.
On Sunday, they meet in another, and possibly their final conference title game. A win for either would go a long way toward each player’s immortality in the annuls of NFL elite.