Peyton Manning has often been compared to Dan Marino - they were both considered to be the best players in their position (as quarterbacks), to have never won the Superbowl. To hear the Chicago Bears fans and sports commentators go on about it for the last week or so, it seemed like a foregone conclusion that the comparisons would continue...
Manning was known as the choker who could not handle big games...he would do exceptionally well during the regular season, often throwing as many as a record 49 touchdowns but was then considered to be unable to go the final mile - winning the AFC championship and the NFL Superbowl title...
All that changed, today, in what can be considered to be a historic Superbowl XLI! Manning and colts razed the Chicago Bears team in the first rainy Superbowl ever...a Superbowl that gave a deserving coach the honour of being the first African-American to coach a Superbowl-winning team!
It was, at times, hard to back a quarterback who has been regularly breaking all NFL records in his nine year career as a pro, while not being able to win the big one. Most people who follow football agree, without a doubt, that Manning is a contender for the the football Hall of Fame. He would be the next Dan Marino and the best quarterback till date, but...
Some detractors would claim that the rain, or Rex Grossman, or the failure of the vaunted Chicago defense were the reasons why the Colts won the championship. While some of these factors might have contributed, there are a few points worth considering...
The rain was falling equally on the Colts as it did on the Bears. Rex Grossman did make many costly mistakes, but that was after the Colts came back from a 14-6 deficit to take the lead at 16-14, all based on the brilliance and planning of Manning. The Chicago defense did not get a chance to crush their opponents as easily as they have done over the course of the season because Manning, with his ability to decipher defensive strategies, was able to take advantage of holes in their defense. Those meager holes grew in size as the game progressed, and were letting in water at an alarming rate.
Each time the question was repeated, Manning's answer was the same: team.
"It was a wonderful team game," he said. "Everyone did their job."
But then, like Manning, he slipped into the Colts' mantra.
"This may not have been our best team in five years," Dungy said, "but it was the closest and the most connected -- and it showed in the way we played.
The game has its stars, but a large number of factors must fall into place to be able to win the Superbowl. While Manning led from the front, the Colts' coaching strategies and the way the defense pulled up their collars were important factors in the win. Not to mention the rest of their tremendous offense. The Colts are a fantastic example of how a team can come together, in every aspect, to crush even the most favoured opponents.
But Manning's contributions in passing and leading the team got him the well deserved MVP award for the game, and it couldn't have happened to a nicer guy!