Manning needs a win today to cement place in history
PEYTON Manning claimed a fifth National Football League (NFL) Most Valuable Player (MVP) award on Saturday, but the Denver Broncos quarterback will need another Super Bowl ring to cement his place among the all-time greats.
Manning, who will lead the Broncos against the Seattle Seahawks in the Super Bowl this morning (Singapore time), was the clear favourite in the MVP race after he set single-season marks for touchdown passes (55) and yards (5,477).
Manning, who had neck surgery in 2011 and missed the entire season before being released by Indianapolis and signed by Denver in 2012, also won the award in 2009, 2008, 2004, and shared it with Steve McNair in 2003.
No one else had won MVP honours four times, and only quarterbacks Johnny Unitas, Brett Favre and running back Jim Brown have captured the award thrice.
With Manning at the controls of Denver's powerhouse offence, the Broncos scored a record 606 points, 161 ahead of the next best team.
There is no disputing his Hall of Fame credentials, but with just one Super Bowl ring, where he ranks among the sport's best has been a subject of fierce debate.
When it comes to Super Bowl wins, he is not even the best quarterback in the Manning family, with younger brother Eli having guided the New York Giants to two titles.
The Broncos were tipped as Super Bowl favourites from the start of the season and Manning has been under mounting pressure to prove that he can also get the job done when it counts most, and turn his record-setting campaign into a Super Bowl title.
With a win over the Seahawks, he would become the first quarterback to win the Super Bowl as starter for two teams.
However, noting that the NFL's top-rated defence would be on the other side of the field, with the fewest points surrendered and the most takeaways, he warned against complacency.
"That is a close-knit bunch of guys from what I see on film," he said. "They are constantly high-fiving each other, picking each other up off a pile. I see them constantly communicating. You can just tell that they are a close-knit unit. That's a big part of their success."
This year's championship extravaganza will be making its Broadway debut as the first outdoor Super Bowl played in a cold-weather city. The game was forecast to kick off at 6.6 deg C under cloudy skies.
Seattle's only prior Super Bowl trip ended in a loss to Pittsburgh in 2006, while Denver lost to Dallas in 1978, the New York Giants in 1987, Washington in 1988 and San Francisco in 1990 before John Elway brought the Broncos victories in 1998 and 1999 in their most recent prior appearances.