Manning finally escapes Marino’s shadow
Peyton Manning is not the next Dan Marino. Manning has a Super Bowl victory.
Sunday’s Super Bowl triumph by the Colts officially begins the talk about Manning’s place in history, finally eliminating the only blemish on his Hall of Fame resume: no championships.
Justified or not, that has always been (and will always be) the chief criticism of Marino, the top passer statistically in football history. Every conversation about Joe Montana, John Elway, Bart Starr and, now Tom Brady, mentions Marino but holds him in a separate category, penalizing him for never winning the big one.
Now, in his ninth year, Manning gets out of that category and into the full debate of the best quarterbacks of all-time. He already has claimed the single-season touchdown passes mark (from Marino) and seems durable enough to rewrite several other passing records before his career is over.
Ironically, the victory on Sunday that punctuated his stellar career was a fairly mediocre performance.
He received the Most Valuable Player award after his 247 passing yards, one touchdown pass and one interception — dull numbers by Manning’s standards — but those honors probably should have gone to a defensive unit which baffled the Bears or one of the Colts’ running back duo, which pushed around the alleged best defense in the league.
But that will likely just become a footnote in Manning’s career, and the championship victory part of the headline.
Fittingly, just before the game, Manning shook hands with Marino, on hand for the coin toss. Then the Colts quarterback finished in Miami what his Dolphins counterpart never could.
AFN Sports will provide a 30-minute recap of Super Bowl XLI on Feb. 12 at 8:30 a.m. and 8 p.m. Central Europe Time.
Other notes from Super Bowl XLI:
nBest call: The Colts took the opening kickoff of the second half and ran a slow, pounding drive that exhausted the Bears defense early. The 13-play drive, full of short passes and bruising runs, only resulted in a field goal, but took up 7:30 of game time. Between that and the extended halftime, the Bears waited nearly an hour of real time between offensive snaps, which seemed to leave them out of synch.
nWorst call: Somehow, after a year in which Bears rookie Devin Hester set a new record for TD returns and after two weeks of news reports on how the Colts would have to account for him, Hester returned the opening kickoff 92 yards through a confused Colts special teams unit.
nBest bet: Forget the over/under and the point spread. A $10 wager on www.bodog.com that the Colts would score exactly 29 points paid out $300, while a $10 bet that Hester would score the first touchdown paid out $200.
nMost bizarre moment: Just before kickoff, the NFL tried to set the mood for the big contest by inviting Cirque de Soleil to perform a tribute to football. Among the more surreal parts: a young boy in Bears facepaint tied to helium balloons launched repeatedly into the air, and a marching band two-step featuring dancers wearing Colts linebacker Cato June jerseys.
nBiggest surprise: CBS announcer Jim Nance nearly had a heart attack when Adam Vinatieri’s first extra-point attempt was flubbed, and squealed even louder when Vinatieri missed a 36-yard field goal attempt at the end of the first half. Vinatieri, the highest scoring player in NFL postseason history, was 14 of 15 on field-goal attempts this postseason.
nBest commercial: AFN viewers didn’t get to see any of the ads, which cost companies a reported $2.6 million per 30-second spot. But the slate of Anheuser-Busch commercials are worth tracking down online at www.budweiser.com and www.budlight.com, particularly the company’s rock-paper-scissors contest.
nWorst commercial: Coca-cola’s attempt to connect Black History Month, the first black head coach to win the Super Bowl, and “the Coke side of life” came across as cheap and crass. Frito-Lay’s commercial with the same theme was much more tactfully done, featuring shots of black families enjoying the game and more subtly hyping their product.
nLooking ahead: Even though Dolphin Stadium hasn’t been fully cleaned up from this year’s contest, www.bodog.com already has odds on who will win next year’s Super Bowl. The Chargers are the favorite, at six-to-one odds, with the Colts at seven-to-one and the Bears at eight-to-one. The Cleveland Browns are the longest shot, a distant 100-to-one bet.