By Sam Cowan
If Super Bowl 50 was the final game of Peyton Manning’s career, then he didn’t go out with quite the flair expected from the most prolific passer in NFL history.
Manning looked every bit like a 39-year-old in the twilight of his playing career at times on Sunday and finished with a pedestrian 141 passing yards, no touchdown and an interception.
Luckily for him, the Denver Broncos didn’t need much offense for Manning to get the second ring of his career. The Broncos defense smothered the top-scoring offense of the Carolina Panthers to help bring the franchise its third Super Bowl victory.
It was a stark contrast to the last Super Bowl appearance for Manning and the Broncos in 2014. Manning was coming off a record-breaking regular season for both passing yards and touchdowns, but the Seahawks dominated the Broncos in a 35-point blowout.
This year, the Broncos would not be denied as the defense put on a showcase all season which places them alongside the aforementioned Seahawks, the 2000 Ravens and the 1985 Bears among others as one of the best defenses in NFL history.
However, despite the season the defensive unit had, all the focus in the weeks leading up the Super Bowl and even after the game finished was on Peyton Manning and questions of whether his retirement was imminent.
For his part, Manning has yet to say for certain whether he will be in the league in 2016. Even when asked directly about it after the game, Manning said he hadn’t decided yet and would need more time to think about it.
Manning has certainly enjoyed a lot of success in his 18 years in the NFL. Manning is the NFL’s all-time leader in passing yards and passing touchdowns while also being just second in passing attempts and completions.
Manning also has a habit of bringing his team back in games and holds the NFL record for game-winning drives in the fourth quarter or overtime with 56 on his career. The only current player close to that is Manning’s eternal rival Tom Brady who has 46.
The value of Manning has also been highly recognized in his career as demonstrated by his five MVP awards. No one else in NFL history has more than three.
The win adds several more records to the illustrious career of Manning. Manning is now the only quarterback to win a Super Bowl with two separate teams and in addition to being the oldest quarterback to play in a Super Bowl, he is also now the oldest quarterback to win a Super Bowl.
The win was also the 200th of Manning’s career including regular season and postseason, which broke a tie with Brett Favre for most all-time.
It will be a while before anyone comes close to matching these records and it is obvious Manning has left a big mark on the game.
With all he has accomplished, it might seem odd to end his career on such a down personal note, but it might be the perfect way to end his career.
Manning was banged up all season and it is obvious his body is beginning to break down on him. However, for one last run from the end of the regular season to the Super Bowl, Manning was able to do just enough to help his teams win.
The defense brought the team to victory, but Manning did enough for himself to make sure he didn’t let himself or the team down by the end of the game.
For a player who has been among the most valuable in NFL history, it feels somewhat appropriate that he goes out a winner in an overall team effor