It took 15 NFL seasons and over 450 starts between the two but the eternal Tom Brady versus Peyton Manning argument finally ended on Sunday night when Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler stepped in front of Ricardo Lockwood to intercept an ill-fated Russell Wilson pass.
Tom Brady’s fourth Super Bowl ring writes a definite, conclusive finish to the NFL’s greatest rivalry quarterback rivalry ever. Granted, Manning may return for an 18th NFL season and by proxy play with a competitive Denver Broncos team but at this point the damage is well past done.
Football comes down to one thing.
Brady owns four Super Bowl rings – only equaled by Joe Montana and Terry Bradshaw. Also, no quarterback owns more playoff wins than Brady’s 21 victories.
Meanwhile, Brady has the all-time highest winning percentage for a starting QB by claiming victories in an amazing 77% of his regular season contests.
Think of it this way.
What’s the most important part of a burger?
The bun? Important and necessary but not the most integral part.
The key is the meat. A burger simply isn’t a burger without the meat. In football, the meat is represented by winning. Statistics are condiments. Touchdown passes, yards, and completions are like the lettuce, onions, tomatoes, ketchup, and mustard.
It’s important to make sure that the burger’s condiments provide that extra punch to the burger but guess what? If you don’t cook the burger right, all of the condiments in the world can’t dress it up.
Essentially, that’s where we are at with the Brady vs. Manning argument at this point. If you’re a Manning defender, you lost all of the remaining ammunition on Sunday in such a decisive manner.
Prior to Sunday’s electrifying Super Bowl victory, Brady’s critics would typically trot out the following items:
- Since starting his postseason career at 10-0, Brady was 10-8 in the postseason.
- Brady lost two Super Bowls.
- Brady hasn’t won a Super Bowl since the Spygate controversy, which suggested he couldn’t prosper without his head coach using nefarious tactics.
- Peyton Manning had won a Super Bowl since Brady’s last title victory and appeared in more Super Bowls (3) than TB12 (2).
- And he (allegedly) improperly deflated footballs to gain a competitive advantage against the Colts during the AFC Championship game.
While those items were true prior to Sunday’s mad dash to the finish (expect for the latter, which hasn’t been proven unless you believe a vast collection of NFL talking heads that suffered devastating playoff losses to Brady’s Patriots at some point in their career), the former Michigan Wolverines credentials still put him a step ahead of Manning.
To me, the argument died in last year’s Super Bowl versus Seattle at Met Life Stadium. While I’m not sure any man alive could have stood up to the Legion of Boom on that night, Manning bombed in a way that was sobering.
His Broncos looked overpowered and scared on the game’s biggest stage. Unfortunately for Manning, he was the trigger man for all of it. When the pressure reached its zenith, he wilted.
Conversely, staring at a 10-point fourth quarter deficit and potentially a third straight Super Bowl loss (Jim Kelly, John Elway, and Fran Tarkenton are the only quarterbacks to pull that trick), Brady’s legacy was left in peril in large part thanks to a collection of bloodthirsty hounds waiting to collecting a pound of his flesh over Deflategate.
Unlike Manning a year earlier, Brady answered the bell against the game’s greatest defense once adversity punched him in the face repeatedly hard during a lackluster third quarter.
Brady’s Patriots always reflect a collective team experience with the team feeding off the quarterback. Meanwhile, Manning’s Colts and Broncos reflect a different reality – a team watching a singular superstar (and absolutely one of the greatest to ever do it) given all of the tools to succeed offensively; and along the way hoping it had enough complimentary pieces of defense to make his work stick.
Unfortunately, a funny thing happened on the way to immortality for Peyton. His teams keep getting booted in postseason.
No quarterback has lost more playoff games than Manning’s 13.
No quarterback has gone one and done in the playoffs more than Manning’s 9 times.
This isn’t meant to be a piece that slashes the accomplishments of Manning but realistically, a logical argument for him being the best quarterback of this generation no longer holds water.
At the end of his career, no quarterback will possess Peyton’s statistical prowess. Yet, his career will be unfulfilled in one big area…postseason success.
With a big assist from Malcolm Butler, Tom Brady’s name no longer is attached to Peyton Manning’s silhouette. Instead, only one man stands in step with Mr. Brady…
Joseph Clifford Montana.