By Christian Pierre-Louis
Almost two years ago, Peyton Manning came to Denver, not knowing how his tale would continue. Now he prepares to take over the Big Apple, one win away from winning that elusive second Lombardi Trophy. When Manning sat out the 2011 season because of a neck injury, he had plenty of time to contemplate life without football. Manning; the No. 1 high school recruit in the nation, the Heisman favorite as a Tennessee senior and No. 1 overall pick in 1998, was suddenly an underdog for the first time, really ever.
Prior to Sunday’s game against the New England Patriots, Manning had received an assault of criticism on whether he would be able to lead the Broncos to a victory over the Patriots. During his career, the rivalry between Manning and the Patriots quarterback, Tom Brady, has been the source of many memorable moments in the NFL. However, Manning was able to overcome the harsh skepticism, and lead the Broncos to a 26-16 victory over the New England Patriots.
From the beginning of the game, the Broncos dominated the Patriots in every aspect, and in the end, the best team came out on top. The game started with Manning and the Broncos taking an early lead, and once they had it, there was no looking back. Manning had his way with the New England defense, toying with them at the line of scrimmage and his surgical precision was too much for Bill Belichick’s team to handle. The Broncos as a team controlled the ball for close to 36 minutes, whereas the Patriots only had possession of the ball for 24.
The defense for the Broncos also played exceptionally well, managing to stop the Patriots’ ability to score a touchdown for the first three quarters of the game. It was only in the fourth quarter of the game that a comeback sparked by Brady seemed possible, however, the performance of the Broncos during the first three quarters had separated them so far that lead prevented this from happening. Patriots coach Bill Belichick expressed his disappointment with his statement following the game, “I wish we could’ve done a little better today, especially me.”
Although the game was won by the Broncos as a team, Peyton Manning has received the majority of the attention following the Broncos win. With this win, Manning is looking at his third Super Bowl appearance, and an opportunity for a second Super Bowl victory. In addition, with this win Manning has ensured that his legacy continues into the Super Bowl. Manning could be the first quarterback to have won a Super Bowl with two different teams if the Broncos win the Super Bowl. Following the game, the Broncos waited patiently to hear the news of whether they would be playing the San Francisco 49ers or the Seattle Seahawks in the Super Bowl.
So it’s a Seattle-Denver Super Bowl, one full of intrigue and new story lines, seeing that almost every player in the game will be new to the Super Bowl stage. Every player but one. Peyton Manning is back for his third Big One, and the pressure is all on him to cap this underdog chapter in the Book of Manning and silence all his critics once and for all.
Christian Pierre-Louis is a journalism major at Seton Hall University. He is a HUGE fan of the, LA Lakers, NY Giants, and NY Yankees. He is also an assistant sports producer at Seton Hall’s radio station WSOU 89.5 FM. You can follow him on twitter at @CPL_78.