After confirmed badass Devin Hester ran back the opening kickoff for 92 yards and a touchdown, it appeared that all was right with Super Bowl XL1. The scrappy underdog was winning, Peyton Manning was pouting, and the biggest game of the year was being played outside in real football weather. Peyton's opening drive did little to dismiss his reputation as a lifelong choker. He threw two passes that should have been interceptions, and then finally the Bears obliged him with a pick. Things did not look good.
Of course, we all know that four hours later, he'd pulled it out anyway. The monkey was off his back, now Dan Marino can get back to being Dan Marino, etc. But, for all the credit that was due, I could not help but chafe when he was named MVP. Hadn't they been watching the game? Dominic Rhodes and Joseph Addai solidified that victory: wasn't it obvious? Maybe he was awarded the trophy as a study in contrast. That is, he's not Rex Grossman, so he was a shoo-in.
Maybe this sounds like sour grapes, but it's not. Peyton Manning is a good quarterback, and the story of "will he ever win the big one" was getting so old it's not even funny. But nothing Peyton did in the Super Bowl screamed MVP, and his performances in the rest of the playoffs were even worse. Manning finished with 3 touchdowns and 7 interceptions after four games. That's just embarassing! If the Colts had lost, everyone would be publicly taking him to task for letting down his team. But thanks to the brilliant coaching of Tony Dungy, he's raking in the kudos. Serious, hats off to Dungy. Peyton hasn't changed a bit: he still sucks in the playoffs. His coach just figured out how to work around it.