Super Bowl Loss Isn’t Peyton Manning’s Fault – Or is It?
Denver Broncos' fans are scrambling to explain Sunday's humiliating loss to the Seattle Seahawks, hoping that finding someone or something to blame will somehow ease the pain of another Super Bowl embarrassment. Is it the defense? Offensive line? Coach John Fox? The officials? The weather? Bruno Mars? Or does this one point directly to quarterback Peyton Manning?
Up until the first play of Sunday's Super Bowl, the Denver Broncos' season had been magical.
The Broncos won the first six games of the season without their star defensive player Von Miller. They won three out of four games while head coach John Fox recovered from open heart surgery. Peyton Manning had the best regular season statistically that a quarterback has ever had in the history of the NFL.
The magic continued into the playoffs as the Manning-led Broncos beat two teams they had lost to during the regular season, in spite of a porous defense that had been ravaged with injuries.
Leading up to the Super Bowl, fans and 'experts' analyzed the Denver-Seattle matchup. It was all about the great Seattle defense and the great Peyton Manning. There was no talk about what the Seattle offense might do against a marginal Broncos' defense or about a Seattle offense that averaged nearly 28 points a game in 13 wins. There was no discussion about a Broncos defense that had been up and down this season more times than a spinning yo-yo.
For the many who predicted a Broncos' victory, more often than not the reason given was Peyton Manning -the quarterback wizard. Once again he will work his magic with all the "weapons" that surround him. Somehow, this future hall-of-famer will find a way to get it done, regardless of whatever factors might normally come into play in a game like this. Unfortunately, the Broncos' management, coaching staff, and players were drinking the Manning Kool-Aid as well.
Peyton Manning did not have a great Super Bowl, but it certainly wasn't horrible. And under normal circumstances it may have even been good enough to win. Had the Broncos' center not prematurely snapped the ball on the first play of the game, and had the offensive line protected their quarterback better and not allowed the hit that caused the pick-six, and had the Broncos' special teams unit (which has been atrocious all season) not given up a second-half opening kickoff return for a touchdown,(and by the way, who is the Einstein that decided giving Percy Harvin a chance to return a kick off was a good idea) had Demaryius Thomas not squelched a promising Denver drive with a fumble, and had the defense tackled better and put even a little pressure on Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson the Broncos probably would have won the game.
In the biggest game of the season, the Denver Broncos failed to realize that football is a team sport. It's not about one guy - even if the guy happens to be the incomparable Peyton Manning. The fact is, your team is rarely going to lose because of Peyton, a guy who works harder and prepares more for every single game than probably any player in the league, and probably in the history of the game. But, the fact is, you can't win with just one guy, no matter how great he is.
It seems the Broncos somehow thought that Peyton's greatness would over shadow all other obstacles - like a shabby defense, shaky special teams, the weather, oh, and most of all - a Seahawks' team that won 13 games during the regular season - and won them with defense.
If the Broncos didn't have Peyton Manning perhaps they would have been more prepared and better equipped to play what many people thought going into the game, was the best team in the National Football League this year. Without Peyton, maybe the Broncos would have kept Elvis Dumervil, realizing that you can't let a star defensive player go without having serious negative repercussions on your team. Maybe they would have tried to win this game with strength and power, rather than on sheer will with the mantra 'win it for Peyton.'
Peyton Manning isn't even close to being the reason why the Broncos' lost the Super Bowl, but it is quite possible he is the reason they did not win it.