Anytime a network has a televised game, the producers and announcers search for a storyline that would make this game a big event. With Peyton Manning, there’s always a storyline whether it’s him breaking records or winning a big game.
NBC spent all of last night’s telecast talking about Manning breaking Brett Favre’s record from pregame show to beginning of the game to the end of the game. The network captured the moment well when Manning finally broke Favre’s touchdown record of most passes thrown by a quarterback last night with 509th touchdown pass to Demaryius Thomas in the second quarter.
The Broncos quarterback finished the night with 510 touchdown passes in his career. Here’s the rub: He didn’t seem giddy about what he did. He was more excited about what his team did in their 42-17 rout of the 49ers last night at Sports Authority Field at Mile High.
Manning gets it. He knows this is not about his personal record. He knows this is not about being the best quarterback in football. He understands it’s about winning another championship. That’s why he is still playing at 38 years old.
While Manning loves to entertain, he is in this to win another championship. He wants to go to the Hall of Fame with at least three championships. Winning one championship in what has been a great career is not enough for him.
He still has regrets about couple of blown opportunities in the Super Bowl. He thought his team was good enough to beat the Saints in the Super Bowl several years ago, and he did not play well in the ultimate game against the Seahawks in February.
The 43-8 Super Bowl loss to the Seahawks is on Manning, and he knows that. He wilted under pressure, and he was skittish after the Seahawks hit him hard all game long. That’s on him since Hall of Fame quarterbacks are supposed to flourish under pressure.
Manning should have won at least two by now. This season presents his best chance to win a championship. With due respect to the Colts, Ravens and Chargers, the Broncos are the best team in the AFC. The Broncos defense is physical unlike last season, and their running game is efficient. That’s why the Broncos quarterback was more excited about how the Broncos dominated the 49ers than his personal record. He likes how the Broncos are more of a versatile team this season.
Last year was not the case for the Broncos. Manning did all the dirty work by bailing the defense out too often. They relied more on their passing game. They were a one-dimensional team. It worked enough where the Broncos were able to get to the Super Bowl, but it came back to haunt team against a physical Seahawks team.
This year is different for the Broncos. This team has a defense. John Elway spent $110 million to make the defense tougher and nastier by signing T.J. Ward, Aqib Talib and DeMarcus Ware. So far, it has paid dividends. The new Broncos are making plays on defense by getting interceptions, hitting on quarterbacks and wide receivers and creating fumbles. It showed again last night.
This defense is certainly not a bend but don’t break defense. This unit is coming together, and it started in their game against the Seahawks.
Ronnie Hillman has certainly filled the void in the running game after Montee Ball struggled to be the Broncos primary running back. He should make Manning’s job easy come January if he keeps this up.
The running game and the defense helped put on a complete performance last night, and that’s what Manning appreciates more than anything. He hopes that will continue to happen in his pursuit of a second championship.
Ultimately, the pressure will be on the five-time MVP. He has to step up when it matters by winning games in January and February.
Still, it would help if the other side of the ball makes his job easy. He would love to see his team’s defense put him in a position to win the game by making it a close one like he saw against the Seahawks. He doesn’t want to shoulder the load of coming from behind game after game. It wears on any great quarterbacks.
That’s why he has to be enthusiastic about last night’s win. He knows he does not have to do this all by himself anymore. He knows he can trust on his defense to make plays and make his job easy.
He never had a great defense in his career.
He saw what his defense can do the last few weeks, and he knows that can help him win his 2nd championship of his career.
Forgive him if his team’s defensive performance stands out more than his personal achievement.
He understands what’s more important in January and February. He gets the big picture.
It’s about what helps him win a title in February.
That’s why he liked his team’s win more than his record-breaking night last night.
Contact Leslie Monteiro: @LightRodWriter