SANTA CLARA – Peyton Manning might be the second quarterback to end an NFL career on the highest possible note.
His boss, Denver Broncos CEO and general manager John Elway did it after consecutive Super Bowl victories.
Manning may well do something similar, but he wasn’t going to one-up his teammates or his employer by breaking news at a postgame press conference. He recognized all too well this night was more about Denver's dominant defense than his efforts in the Broncos’ 24-10 Super Bowl victory over Carolina on Sunday at Levi’s Stadium.
Manning was 13-for-23 passing for 141 yards, an interception and a 56.5 passer rating. He was sacked five times and fumbled twice, losing one.
This night was about one of the finest defensive performances, which set up just enough offense to secure victory.
Even after it was all settled, Manning wasn’t focused on breaking news.
“I’ll take some time to reflect,” Manning said on the field in a postgame interview. “I have a couple of priorities first. I want to kiss my wife and kids. I want to hug my family. I’m going to drink a lot of Budweiser tonight, I promise you that. I’m going to take care of those things first. …I’m just very grateful.”
Manning is 38 after 18 largely excellent NFL seasons, and many believe this is his last rodeo. Manning won his second Super Bowl with as many teams on Sunday night, and will be remember among the NFL’s greatest quarterbacks.
He wasn’t great this year, with declining skills and health portending that this is, in fact, the end.
Most everyone was asked about winning one for the Sherriff, and most everyone chose to focus on a group’s accomplishment against a talented, determined Carolina team.
Manning won two Super Bowls in four tries. Elway won two Super Bowls in five trips. Both guys didn’t need multiple rings to validate a career, but they certainly helped cement a place in NFL lore.
Elway was 38 and Manning was 39 during their respective Super Bowl wins. Whether Manning follows Elway’s exit strategy should be known soon.
“Right now, I think he is probably just soaking it in,” Elway said. “I’m remember when I won it, it is always the time just to sit there. There is so much hard work and it is such a long season that it’s great to be able to exhale and say ‘We are world champs’ is a great feeling. I’m sure he’s enjoying it now.”