One Final Obstacle Lies in Peyton Manning’s Path
After 18 long seasons of being an NFL quarterback, Peyton Manning has seen it all. With many questions about his future, Manning has seemed to find a little fountain of youth in Denver after his mid-season benching and after defeating his longtime nemesis, Tom Brady, in the AFC Championship last Sunday, he is one win away from his second Super Bowl title. The wistful mood was summed up by this great photo released on the Bronco’s Facebook page.
There has been plenty of chatter about whether this is Peyton’s last season in the NFL. He missed multiple games this season with a foot injury and then was benched for backup Brock Osweiler, the first time since his college years Manning was healthy and did not start. But Manning was called upon during the Broncos regular season finale against San Diego and helped engineer the 27-20 Denver comeback. Then in the playoffs, the Broncos had to deal with an explosive but banged-up Steelers team in the Divisional round of the playoffs, another victory 23-16. And then the mighty Patriots came to town, Brady, Belichick, Gronk, it looked as if the end was drawing near. But it was not to be, Brady’s two-point conversion pass attempt was deflected and intercepted by Bradley Roby, and just like that, Manning was in his fourth Super Bowl.
In what could be his final game, Manning might be facing his toughest opponent yet, the Panthers sport a 17-1 record, including the playoffs, the possible MVP in Cam Newton and arguably the best cornerback and linebacker in the league, Josh Norman and Luke Kuechly. The Panthers’ defense ranks second in forced fumbles, first in interceptions, sixth in total yards and sacks, eleventh in passing yards, and fourth in rushing yards.
Denver certainly has their work cut out for them and should the Broncos pull off the upset, Manning will almost surely cap off a career that puts him in the conversation for best quarterback of all time. He ranks first all time in passing yards with 71,940 and has the most touchdowns of all time with 539. The Broncos have already had one quarterback in John Elway end his Hall of Fame career by winning a Super Bowl, they may add another.