The Denver Broncos have won the Super Bowl and there are already some horrible takes on the market. The fact that Peyton Manning was the quarterback for the winning team does not enhance his legacy, so much as just adds another footnote to the long register of his career.
Make no mistake, the debate over the superiority between Tom Brady and Manning was decided last season; this Super Bowl did nothing to change that.
Manning was along for the ride as the Denver Broncos defense won the Super Bowl, and, man, that defense was outstanding. One game after completed taking the Patriots offensive line to the woodshed, the pass rush of Von Miller and Demarcus Ware caused the Panthers to implode.
The 2015 Broncos defense will be mentioned alongside the 2013 Seahawks, 2002 Buccaneers, and 2000 Ravens for consideration as the best defense of the past twenty years, and they deserve it.
But that's the story. The Super Bowl did nothing more for Peyton Manning than reinforce the fact that he needs to retire and that he's a mere shell of his former self. And he's probably okay with that.
The Broncos offense produced just 194 yards, the lowest total of any Super Bowl victor by 50 yards. His passer rating was an appalling 55.6, his QBR was a laughable 9.9, and was unable to convert a third down for the final 58 minutes of the game.
The idea that the fact that Manning picked up a second ring changes the Brady-Manning debate is laughable. Manning was 13/23 for 141 yards, an interception, and two fumbles (one lost) over the whole game. Brady posted 13/15 for 124 yards and 2 touchdowns during his 4th quarter Super Bowl comeback against the Seahawks.
Currently, Manning holds the cumulative edge in career stats. He is the first quarterback to achieve 200 wins, and he holds league records in passing yards and touchdowns (with the caveat that his statistics have been aided by playing the majority of his career in a dome).
If Manning retires this offseason, which is expected at this point, then he deserves applause for one helluva career. He's undeniably a top 5 quarterback all time, alongside Brady, Joe Montana, and then whatever your sentiment is on Otto Graham, Johnny Unitas, John Elway, Dan Marino, or maybe even Steve Young. It'd be ridiculous to claim otherwise.
But it's also interesting to note that those records will soon belong to Brady.
Brady sits at 194 career wins and will pass Manning next year. Brady needs 13,912 passing yards to pass Manning, which is 4,638 yards per year over the next three seasons, or 3,478 yards per year over four seasons. He needs 111 touchdowns, which is 37 per year over the next three seasons, or 28 per year over the next four seasons.
While Brady is chasing those numbers, he already owns almost every conceivable playoff record. Playoff games? Wins? Conference Championships? Super Bowl appearances? MVPs? Passing yards? Touchdowns? Single game touchdown passes? Single game completions? Biggest comeback, and doing it all in the fourth quarter? All Brady's.
Hall of Fame edge defender Charles Haley has the record with 5 Super Bowl wins.
There is no longer a debate and a Broncos victory didn't change that. Brady is working his way to taking home every single individual and team record in the book. That's his legacy- and he'll be all alone at the top.