By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) -- Look, nobody is here to rain on any parades, OK? Nobody is here to micturate into any punch bowls, all right? Nobody is dumping any Budweiser on top of a fresh pie from Papa John's, you got me?
We're just here to deal with facts.
And the facts say that Peyton Manning just flirted with history, but not for the way he probably would have liked.
A few weeks ago, I explored an age-old question that's never before been truly answered: Which quarterback had the worst Super Bowl-winning performance of all time? Looking at a time frame that included the entire postseason run, not just the Super Bowl itself, I looked at every winning QB and objectively ranked them by passer rating.
Upon seeing the question, the responses from people were pretty limited, with most shouting either Trent Dilfer or Brad Johnson or Ben Roethlisberger or Jeff Hostetler or maybe one or two other names.
But, curiously enough, none of those names "topped" the list. (Bottomed the list?) Instead, it was a Hall of Famer and four-time champion with the worst postseason passer rating for a winning team, as Terry Bradshaw's 68.4 rating through the 1975 postseason was the worst of the bunch.
But it felt wrong to say that Bradshaw is the worst Super Bowl-winning QB of all time. He did win three others, and in those postseason runs he posted passer ratings of 94.9, 104.1, 98.5.
So, naturally, the movement went to No. 2, which is where none other than Peyton Manning and his 70.5 rating from the 2006 postseason sat.
I summed up my intensive research thusly: "So, there it is. Facts are facts. Peyton Manning is the worst Super Bowl-winning quarterback of all time. Facts only."
Well, now we've got another Super Bowl for Mr. Manning, and considering it was not exactly an impressive passing performance, we're reopening the record books, digging through them, and placing this one in history.
In games against Pittsburgh, New England and Carolina, Manning completed 51 of his 92 passes (62 percent) for 539 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.
Add it all up, and Peyton Manning's 2015 postseason passer rating was ... 75.4!
Here's where that fits on the all-time list:
- Terry Bradshaw, 1975, 68.4
- Peyton Manning, 2006, 70.5
- Joe Namath, 1968, 74.2
- Peyton Manning, 2015, 75.4
- Johnny Unitas, 1970, 76.3
- Tom Brady, 2001, 77.3
- Brad Johnson, 2002, 79.9
- Len Dawson, 1969, 80.8
- Trent Dilfer, 2000, 83.7
- John Elway, 1997, 83.9
(Longer list is available here.)
There are a few factors to consider here. For one, Bradshaw played in some challenging weather in two of his three playoff games in '75. It was 32 degrees with 12 mph winds in the divisional round, and the wind chill was 2 degrees in the conference championship, with the wind blowing 18 mph. Brr!
Manning this season played in pretty favorable conditions. In the divisional round, it was 43 degrees with light wind. In the conference championship, it was 46 degrees with almost no wind at all. And though there was some wind on Sunday, the 76 degree temperature made it a great day for throwing ... though watching Manning and Cam Newton, you'd never know it.
But really, as unimpressive as Manning's 2015 postseason was, there's no touching what he did (or didn't do) in 2006. In those games, two were played indoors, and one was played in unseasonably warm conditions in Baltimore, where it was 63 degrees with no wind. The Super Bowl in Miami was rainy, but still, in those four games, he threw just three touchdowns while throwing seven interceptions. Remarkable.
This year's two touchdowns and one pick, while unimpressive, can't touch that record.
But, Joe Namath ranks among the group of worst postseason passer ratings in Super Bowl-winning seasons, and he managed to throw three TDs to one pick. Johnny Unitas' 1970 postseason was bad, but he threw four touchdowns to two picks. Tom Brady played one of his 2001 postseason games in a blizzard and missed half of another game due to a bad knee injury, so his one touchdown and one interception would qualify as being less than what Manning did this year. Except, well, the whole leading-the-team-down-the-field-for-the-game-winning-points-in-the-final-minutes-of-the-Super Bowl thing. That's a factor.
Brad Johnson threw five TDs and three picks in the '02 playoffs. Len Dawson matched Manning with two TDs and one INT, though he did throw his touchdown in the actual Super Bowl. Good old Trent Dilfer threw three touchdowns and one pick in the 2000 postseason, and John Elway's '97 postseason was similar to Manning's 2015, but the boss threw three touchdowns and one pick.
In sum, I think the "worst Super Bowl-winning quarterback" statement may need to slide back a bit in the wake of a second title. Yes, physically, Manning didn't do much to help his team, but his pre-snap recognition is second to none, and it seems as though he was smart enough to not even try to make throws that could be considered dangerous. Hence, the Broncos went 1-for-13 on third down.
All of that is to say that Manning's 2015 postseason can be considered one in which the quarterback did the least to help his team win. But while he certainly didn't "win" this Super Bowl, it would be wrong to excuse Bradshaw's bad 1975 postseason for his other victorious seasons and not factor in the same consideration when evaluating Manning.
So while I'm willing to drop the "Worst Super Bowl-Winning Quarterback Of All Time" tag from Peyton, I'll just note that he now has the distinction of authoring two of the four worst postseason performances among Super Bowl winners.
As for who takes over the title as worst Super Bowl-winning quarterback of all time? Here's looking at you, Joe Namath.
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