Five-time NFL MVP. Thirteen-time Pro Bowler. 2007 Super Bowl MVP. Those are just a few of the awards Peyton Manning has won in his illustrious career.

Most touchdown passes in a decade: 314? Check. Most passing yards in a decade: 42,254? Check. Most completions in a decade: 3,575? Check.

Most would not hesitate to call Manning the best regular season quarterback in NFL history. Most would also not question if he were to be considered a top-five quarterback ever.

In 2011 after having four neck surgeries, including neck fusion surgery, Manning was left in a very unfamiliar situation. He had to learn how to throw and grip the ball again and many questioned if he would ever return to the NFL. The Indianapolis Colts decided to part ways with Manning after 14 very successful seasons, fearing that he would never play again. The Denver Broncos signed Manning who ended up winning the NFL Comeback Player of the Year and leading the Broncos to the playoffs that year.

This season, he broke the single-season record for most passing yards in the NFL at 5,477, as well as throwing for a league leading, 55 touchdowns. Manning deserved to win MVP for this season’s historic performance.

There is no doubt that Peyton Manning is a legend, but now the debate is whether he was the best QB to ever play. If one were to look at only his post-season record, they would most likely answer no. Manning is 11-12 and set the record for most losses in the postseason by a starting quarterback at 12. He’s 1-3 in the Super Bowl, having won in 2007, but most recently getting absolutely destroyed 43-8 by the physical Seattle Seahawks’ defense in Super Bowl XLVIII.

While Manning threw for 280 yards and completed a Super Bowl record 33 completions, he finished with one touchdown and two interceptions – very unlike the stats that he put up during the regular season.

Many seem to question how great is Manning. Is he overrated? Does he crumble under pressure? But the critics seem to forget that to lose 12  postseason games, he first had to get to the postseason,  which is an accomplishment.

Winning Super Bowls doesn’t necessarily define greatness. Trent Dilfer won a Super Bowl but isn’t even on the same level as Manning. Eli Manning has two Super Bowl wins but he’s definitely not a better QB than his older brother. Tom Brady has three Super Bowl wins but he has always had Bill Belichick and an elite group of wide receivers.

Manning is in the top 10 for NFL career postseason passer rating, which begs the question: Is it really his fault that he lost 12 out of 23 postseason games?

What many seem to forget is that Manning played on an Indianapolis Colts team that lacked an elite receiving core, or an elite defense. Manning’s success was always limited to how great his team was and frankly, his teams were pretty bad. In 2011, the Colts went from being a 10-win team with Manning the previous year, to a two-win team without him.

This year the Broncos really put a great team together for Manning, with arguably the best receiving core in the NFL.  But an already mediocre defense had many crucial injuries late in season, including both cornerback Chris Harris and linebacker Von Miller.

Those injuries do not erase what was an unflattering and mistake-filled performance from Manning. He was set up for success but he just didn’t deliver. The simple fact is that Manning’s postseason performances never lived up to his performances in the regular season. Is his legacy tarnished? No. What Peyton Manning did and has done is incredible – legendary. But two Super Bowl wins would certainly make the case for him being the best NFL quarterback ever.

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