Further examining Peyton’s Place


A big part of this week has been spent wondering just how far the kid pictured there from the University of Tennessee next to Brett Favre (from Sept. ’97, with our own Charlie Pierce penning the story) has come …

Has he moved past Tom Brady on the all-time charts? (I say it’s really, really close, but our guy Shaughnessy answers that question in the affirmative.)

Is Manning within striking distance of becoming the best ever?

And does he need a win today to cement his legacy?

You’ve probably had your fill of tributes to the greatness of Archie and Olivia’s middle child. But in case you haven’t, I’ve got one more thing that I dug up that shows how great he’s been.

When Charles Woodson was named the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year, I thought Darrelle Revis got robbed, and the reason why was degree of difficulty in what he was assigned to do — man-up the other team’s best every week.

So I thought I’d apply the “degree of difficulty” concept to quarterbacks’ championships. The old adage that “Defense Wins Championships” has held true over the years, this year’s Super Bowl participants notwithstanding, no matter what people want to believe.

And that makes this pretty impressive: Manning won his first championship with the league’s 21st-ranked defense and he’s got the 18th-ranked unit in the NFL behind him this year. I studied every QB to win multiple titles since the merger (couldn’t find rankings for the Packers’ Super Bowl defenses), and found that if the Colts win today, Manning will be the first quarterback in league history to win it all multiple times with a defense ranked outside the Top 10. Check it out …

Joe Montana, 49ers (XVI: 2nd; XIX: 10th; XXIII: 3rd; XXIV: 4th)
Terry Bradshaw, Steelers (IX: 1st; X: 4th; XIII: 3rd; XIV: 2nd)
Troy Aikman, Cowboys (XXVII: 1st; XXVIII: 10th; XXX: 9th)
Tom Brady, Patriots (XXXVI: 24th; XXXVIII: 7th; XXXIX: 9th)
Roger Staubach, Cowboys (VI: 3rd; XII: 1st)
Bob Griese, Dolphins (VII: 1st; VIII: 3rd)
John Elway, Broncos (XXXII: 5th; XXXIII: 11th)
Jim Plunkett, Raiders (XV: 11th; XVIII: 4th)
Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers (XL: 4th; XLIII: 1st)

… As the saying goes, the quarterback gets too much credit, and too much blame. But it certainly looks Manning deserves plenty of praise, when you look at what he’s accomplished here.


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