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Doug Farrar
Writer

Doug Farrar

A FootballOutsiders.com staff writer

Look at the big picture

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As I watched talking head after talking head blather on about Super Bowls and quarterbacks and legacies on various pre-game shows, it kept occurring to me -- what if Peyton Manning plays horribly and the Colts still win? Is Manning's legacy somehow "validated" because the team around him won a Super Bowl? And what if Drew Brees, who was actually more statistically efficient than Manning on a play-by-play basis in 2009, played wonderfully in a Super Bowl loss? Would those "experts" who insisted that his ascent to the elite came only with a Lombardi Trophy have to back off and admit that Brees has been elite for quite a long time?

The simple fact is that one play in one game, no matter how important, shouldn't cement Manning's legacy either way. And those who are Tweeting and blogging and otherwise insisting that this takes Peyton a notch down from Tom Brady clearly aren't doing their homework. If you look at the Tracy Porter interception up close, there are several reasons why it happened. First of all, kudos to Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams for calling the all-out blitz through the A-and B-gaps, bringing pressure right up the middle and forcing Manning to hurry the throw. And how about Porter himself, reading the play and deducing the Colts' intentions after heavy film study alerted him to one certain tendency? And if you're going after Manning for this play, don't you have to save a bit of grief for Reggie Wayne for not coming back on the route he ran to shield the ball from the defender? This is all on Manning no matter what? I don't think so.

If you take away that one interception, Manning would have gone 30 of 44 for 333 yards and a touchdown. Hardly the best performance in Super Bowl history, but also hardly the five-pick dog of a performance that people seem intent on making this out to be. In truth, the temptation to devalue Manning because of this performance is based on the media's refusal to acknowledge that the Saints had just as much of a right to win that game as the Colts did. That their running game and defense were better. That on the right day, Drew Brees was Peyton Manning's equal, and perhaps a little bit more.

No, Manning doesn't deserve a hit to his legacy because of this Super Bowl. He was beaten by a better team. And as wonderfully as he's played this year, there's no shame in that.

By Doug Farrar  |  February 8, 2010; 11:14 AM ET  | Category:  Doug Farrar , Peyton Manning Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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