Peyton Manning cruised into the Super Bowl last night by winning the NFL MVP award in spectacular fashion. Manning crushed the competition, receiving 49 of the 50 votes in the coveted MVP race. The lone vote he did not get went to his long time rival and friend in New England, Tom Brady. This is the fifth MVP for Manning. No one else has won more than three. No one was surprised Manning won the award. And with a nickname like Mr. Perfection, it was business as usual for Manning to almost sweep the votes. Spectacular has become everyday for the NFL’s best quarterback.
Though this was not Manning’s first MVP award, it can be argued that it was his best. Manning also won the award in 2003, 2004, 2008 and 2009, all with the Indianapolis Colts. In those years Manning was clearly the best player in the NFL. This year, Manning had a season that will go down as the best a quarterback has ever had.
Manning and the Broncos came out of the gate hungry and ready to prove they were the elite of the NFL. Week one’s showdown with the Raven’s was just the beginning. The broncos revenged a loss to Baltimore in the playoffs by destroying them on National TV to open the season. The Broncos won 49 to 27 in a game that was bittersweet and not as close as the score suggested. Manning began his MVP season by throwing seven touchdowns. This tied the record for most touchdowns thrown in a game, and became the stepping stone for Manning to shatter the season touchdown record as well.
Manning and the Broncos looked unstoppable for the first few weeks of the season, destroying opponents and putting up earth shattering numbers. Their first stumble was a loss to the Colts in a very emotional return to Indianapolis for Manning. Those that questioned the Broncos and Manning after this loss were quickly silenced. The Broncos took down the then undefeated Chiefs twice in three weeks, and placed themselves firmly in control of the AFC west. They continued to put up video game like numbers, and did not hit another snag until a devastating loss in New England on a Sunday night. The Broncos played a perfect half of football, and led 24 to nothing at the half. Brady and the Patriots came storming back to eventually win the game in overtime on a muffed Broncos punt.
The offense and Manning just kept clicking, and despite a late season loss to the Chargers, secured the top seed in the AFC. Manning’s statistics after the regular season positioned the Broncos for an epic Super Bowl run. It also placed Manning himself in a position to cruise to the MVP award on the way to the Super Bowl. Numbers aren’t always enough, however, and there were two obstacles yet to overcome.
The Broncos led off their revenge tour in the playoffs by dismantling the Chargers in the second round 24 to 17. Though the score appears close, the Broncos were up 17 to nothing at halftime and dominated every aspect of the game. The Patriots came next to Denver, and Manning silenced his critics again by avenging the regular season loss to Brady’s Patriots. Manning sent them packing with a 26 to 16 victory that propelled his Broncos into the Super Bowl.
Along the way to his MVP, Peyton Manning and the Broncos shattered many offensive records. Their offense put up 606 points in 2013, breaking the 2007 Patriots record by 17 points. They scored 76 total touchdowns, one more than the Patriots in the same 2007 season. The Broncos had five players score double digit touchdowns, which broke the previous record of three. The Broncos converted an amazing 293 first downs through the air, overtaking the 2011 Saint’s record by 13. The broncos also scored 50 or more points in three games, tying an NFL record that had not been tied in 45 years. In the second half of games, the Broncos scored 318 points. This broke their own 2012 record of 299 points. The Broncos offense was more dynamic than any offense in NFL history. This includes the 16-0 2007 Patriots, and the Ram’s “Greatest Show on Turf” from the early 2000’s.
Manning also set many individual records in 2013. He threw for 55 touchdowns, eclipsing Brady’s previous mark by five. He set the record for most passing yards in a season with 5,477 – just one more than Drew Brees’ mark of 5,476 set in 2011. Manning threw four touchdowns or more in nine games this season, breaking the record he and Dan Marino shared previously at six. Manning threw for two or more touchdowns in all but one game, tying Marino’s 1984 record. He also tied Marino’s 1984 record of 400 yard passing games with four. Manning tied his own 2004 record for 90+ passer rating in a game with 15. Going back to the 2012 season, Manning broke the consecutive games with said passer rating at 23.
Peyton Manning may have cruised to the Super Bowl with an MVP win and a season that will live on forever in NFL lore. It will not matter, however, if the Broncos cannot win the big game. Knowing Mr. Perfection, that will not be a problem. Manning will surely have his teammates ready to go out and play their best. His preparation is legendary and infectious to all those around him. John Elway might be the Vice President of the Denver Broncos, but this win is not going to be for him. Sorry John, but this one is for Peyton.
By Chris Chisam