Peyton Manning came into Super Bowl XLVIII the owner of arguably the best season ever for a quarterback. However, after the Seattle Seahawks shellacked his Denver Broncos 43-8, Manning left with an empty feeling and a disappointing 1-2 record in the NFL's biggest game.
While Manning set a Super Bowl record with 34 completions, most of those were short and came when the game was out of hand. Early on, Manning and the record-setting Broncos offense had trouble mustering even a first down against a swarming Seahawks defense. Denver's first play from scrimmage was a precursor for how the rest of the game would play out, with a miscommunication on the snap resulting in a safety.
Manning finished 34 for 49 for 280 yards and one touchdown. But he also threw two interceptions, nearly threw several more and also lost a fumble. Manning's second interception was especially costly, with eventual Super Bowl MVP Malcolm Smith returning it 69 yards for a score to put the Seahawks up 22-0 late in the first half.
Manning has now lost in his last two Super Bowl appearances, and he has tossed a pick-six in both of those losses. As quarterback of the Indianapolis Colts, Manning lost 31-17 to the New Orleans Saints in Super Bowl XLIV. He did play pretty well, completing 31 of his 45 passes for 333 yards while throwing one touchdown and one interception.
But that interception came at the worst possible time. With the Colts down 24-17 and driving for a potential game-tying score late in the fourth quarter, Tracy Porter intercepted Manning and returned it 74 yards to the house. Manning put together one last-ditch drive in an attempt to keep the Colts alive, but it was stopped at the Saints' five-yard line.
Of course, Manning does have one Super Bowl victory under his belt, a 29-17 triumph over the Chicago Bears in Super Bowl XLI. But while he earned MVP honors, he wasn't exactly at his best. Two of Manning's first four passes were nearly intercepted, and a third actually was by Bears safety Chris Harris.
He did settle down, completing 25 of his 38 passes for 247 yards. He threw one touchdown, a 53-yard score to Reggie Wayne in the first quarter that was aided by a blown coverage by Harris. Manning did lose a fumble shortly after the deep strike to Wayne, but he protected the ball the rest of the way in a game that was full of turnovers.
That victory removed a huge monkey from Manning's back, but after his latest disappointing big-game effort on Sunday, it has to feel like it was ages ago. The talk about legacy can sometimes be overblown, but there's little doubt that Manning's will take a hit after the disaster against Seattle. Legacies are often shaped by how players perform on the biggest stage, and Manning hasn't exactly been up to snuff. While Manning will still go down as one of the top quarterbacks of all time, he may not be considered the best because of his lackluster performances in the Super Bowl.