Manning's comeback heads to NYC after win over NE

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 20, 2014 at 2:45 am •  Published: January 20, 2014
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DENVER (AP) — Only three years ago, Peyton Manning could barely grip a football, let alone throw one.

A Super Bowl quarterback? Nobody had ever overcome those kind of odds.

On Sunday, he wrote the next chapter in one of football's most remarkable comeback stories, outplaying Tom Brady to lead the Broncos to the Super Bowl for the first time since John Elway took the snaps in Denver some 15 years ago.

Manning crafted yet another impeccable masterpiece, throwing for 400 yards in a 26-16 victory over Brady and the New England Patriots.

"Being in my 16th season, going to my third Super Bowl, I know how hard it is to get there," Manning said.

He'll try to become the first starting quarterback to lead two different teams to titles.

On his way out of Indy, Manning's comeback attempt began a while after his fourth neck surgery, when he tried to play catch with an old college buddy, Todd Helton, who then played for the Colorado Rockies.

The first pass left Manning's hand and fluttered to the ground. Helton thought Manning was joking.

He wasn't.

Fast forward three years and there he was, on a splendid, 63-degree day in Denver, winging it to the receiving corps Elway put together when he returned to the Broncos as a front-office executive.

One of those receivers, Demaryius Thomas, caught seven passes for 134 yards and a touchdown to cap off one of Manning's two 7-minute-plus touchdown drives.

"To keep Tom Brady on the sideline is a good thing," Manning said. "That's something you try to do when you're playing the Patriots."

After kneeling down to seal the victory, Manning stuffed the ball into his helmet, then ran to the 30-yard line to shake hands with Brady. A bit later in the locker room, he celebrated with his father, Archie, and brothers Cooper and Eli.

Asked what pregame advice he gave his younger brother, Cooper said: "Go ahead and pretend you're a 10-year-old playing in the front yard. That's what it looked like" today.

Indeed, Manning did whatever he wanted. And though he threw for 400 yards, it was more dink-and-dunk than a fireworks show in this, the 15th installment between the NFL's two best quarterbacks of a generation. (Manning is 5-10, but now 2-1 in AFC title games).

Manning set up four field goals by Matt Prater and put his stamp on this one with the long, meticulous touchdown drives.

He geared down the no-huddle, hurry-up offense that helped him set records for touchdown passes and yardage this season and made the Broncos the highest-scoring team in history. The result: 93- and 80-yard touchdown drives that were the two longest, time-wise, of the season for the Broncos (15-3).



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