SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Peyton Manning crowned a brilliant NFL career on Sunday as he helped steer the Denver Broncos to a Super Bowl victory but put his retirement decision on hold.
The 39-year-old Manning, who revolutionized the position while winning a record five NFL most valuable player awards, said he wanted some time to reflect after playing in what many expect to be the final game of his storied career.
When he took his turn on the winner’s podium to hoist the championship Vince Lombardi Trophy, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said: “I don’t know if this is your last rodeo, but we all want to thank you for the ride.”
But Manning was in no mood to overshadow his team’s victory celebration, saying instead that a former coach of his had advised him never to make an emotional decision.
“This has been a very emotional week, an emotional night, and I’ve got a couple of priorities. I’ll take some time to reflect,” said Manning, whose ability to analyze defenses at the line of scrimmage and switch plays started a widespread trend in the league.
“I’m going to drink a lot of beer tonight. (Super Bowl MVP) Von Miller’s buying. I’m going to say a prayer and a thank you to the man upstairs for this opportunity as well.”
Earlier, as gold confetti commemorating the Super Bowl’s golden anniversary danced in the air, Manning stopped for an on-field interview.
“It’s very special. This game was much like this season has been. It tested our toughness, resilience our unselfishness,” he said.
Manning completed 13 of 23 passes for 141 yards and one interception in his team’s 24-10 victory over the Carolina Panthers.
It was not vintage Manning, but the astute field general directed a relatively clean attack and gave the dominant Denver defense a chance to carry the Broncos to victory.
With the triumph, Manning became the first NFL quarterback ever to reach 200 career wins (186 in the regular season and 14 in postseason), breaking his tie with Brett Favre, who on Saturday was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
In the process, Manning became the oldest quarterback to win a Super Bowl and the first signal caller to win Super Bowls for two franchises after winning the championship nine years ago with the Indianapolis Colts.
It had been an especially difficult season for Manning, a one-time NFL ironman at the position before missing the 2011 season due to neck surgeries. This past year a foot injury sidelined him for nearly two months.
Head coach Gary Kubiak, a former backup quarterback for the Broncos, said he told Manning after the game how proud he was of him.
“I could sit here all night and tell you (about) the meetings he and I went through over the course of the last 10 weeks when he was injured (and) working his way back — battling his way back for the football team.”